Monday, January 29, 2007

On finding ideas for blogging

I am always looking for new blogging ideas. Given that the librarians' sector of the blogosphere seems to focus on a few common things, finding something different, at least in that area, is not easy. So I pretty much decided early on to go with what interests me professionally or personally. I am also on the lookout for ideas about blogging: where to get ideas, how to write better, etc.

This post then is a small collection of good posts I've seen about blogging. It is kind of a list of things I am jotting down for myself with a musing or two thrown in.

Darren Rowse, of ProBlogger, often features things I find useful. His focus is for the professional blogger, but he also has many ideas of interest for those of us who just scribble. He points to Randfish's post on "10 Web Tools to Help Generate Blog Content Ideas." Mr. Rowse then adds his own nine ideas, making it "10+9." From the Rowse's list of sources:

  • "Other blogs." At times, I find that I read an interesting blog post that sparks some thinking. However, I try to avoid using other blogs for inspiration at times mostly to avoid the echo effect. If it's been beaten to a pulp elsewhere, I don't see a reason to cover it.
  • "Books, newspapers, magazines." I can definitely agree with that. I read voraciously. Most of my news and periodicals I read online via alerts and feeds. Reading a lot of different things opens a blogger to some degree of serendipity. There are things I read that I would not want to blog about: books I started and dropped, articles that were not as interesting as I thought, etc.
  • "Brainstorming." I probably should try this out a bit more.

One thing I do is collect items in my feed reader's folders. This I have to admit is something I have mixed feelings about. I don't always get to some ideas right away. However, I am not always aiming for timely, so I don't feel a need to rush. I can let some ideas simmer. Also putting things aside means that once in a while I drop things. I may look at a clipped item weeks later only to say, "what was I thinking?" If it does not spark a light after some time, out it goes.

  • "Archives." I have not done this. I know I probably have a share of unfinished ideas and possible updates. I may have to explore this a bit.

Here's my addition to the list:

  • Teaching. Reflecting on teaching gives me some good prompts. An interesting lesson. A technique that worked out well or maybe one that did not work so well. This is one of the reasons I started my professional blog.

So, where else can we get ideas? Now and then a news item gives me an idea. I usually use a news item for commentary, just to express an opinion or maybe work out where I stand on an issue. On using news for blogging ideas, I found a post by Tony Hung, guest blogging at ProBlogger. Mr. Hung tells readers "How to Find News for Your Blog." He suggests news can give bloggers an opportunity "to demonstrate your own thought leadership in a given category." As I understand from his post, this is based on what the blogger adds to the news item with good commentary and insight. Mr. Hung goes on to explain how to keep track of news sources, organize them, and share them.

And for me, another source of ideas is observation. Taking the time to look around. I often get a couple of ideas from what I see around me. Sometimes just sitting and watching, turning off the computer, that might provide a nugget for later writing. And by the way, not all of it has to end up on the blogs. Some of it may go into my personal journal, or nowhere at all. And that is just fine as well.

I found a few other posts of interest, but I just threw them as odds and ends together into my scribbling pad over at Alchemical Thoughts. Feel free to take a look or skip. Alchemical Thoughts, what I named the blog over on the Yahoo 360! page I have, has kind of become a scratch pad of sorts. I started using it mostly when Blogger had one of its Maalox moments, but I find that when I just want to toss something quick, I put it there. It's not perfect, but oh well.

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