As an undergraduate in the Newhouse school’s print journalism track, I once received some great advice from the chair of the magazine journalism department, Professor Melissa Chessher. I sat with my classmates around the dinner-style table in the magazine lab room one day for a session of MAG 406: Magazine Article Writing, when she exclaimed we should all be carrying an idea notebook everywhere we went. Better yet, we should regularly take clippings of articles, pictures, even phrases that we loved or wanted to follow up on, and that we should keep a binder of all those juicy tidbits closeby our writing desk. I’ve now received this advice twice – most recently, from blogger Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net, as part of our readings for CMGRClass.
Rowse recommends keeping a journal of titles or phrases that could be made into blog posts someday, as a method of fending off the apathy which can set in when you’ve been blogging regularly for a long time. In addition, he suggests varying the kinds of stimuli bloggers turn to for information. Reading a book, subscribing to new sources of information and news, flicking through TV channels for relevant clips (whilst consciously resisting getting “sucked in” to the tube), and even taking a walk are methods I’ve found helpful before. However, he adds that it can be helpful to start a content series, which sounds like it will become a second battle to keep up with. Still, whatever helps you chip away at the writer’s block!
Bringing community and conversation to your content stream sometimes sounds difficult, but many of this week’s readings address this concern. Whether it’s through recruiting bloggers and retaining them through a rotating editorial calendar (and showing how valuable they are by providing them tangible rewards), or involving the community by addressing questions, putting out a survey, sharing suggestions, or holding a competition/project (see “Meme it Up” in Rowse’s post) interactivity is the way to attract participation. Most importantly, interacting with people – other bloggers, professionals and fans within your niche can provide both the ideas, motivation, and support to achieve more on your blog. It’s as we discussed on Google+: get out, try the one-hour challenge to produce content quickly, and just write something – anything. Sometimes breaking through a writer’s dry spell is as simple as deviating from your personal norm.