From the newsroom
Fighting off a drought of ideas when you are expected to blog regularly can be troublesome, but a few tips could help.
When all of us are home, a popular refrain heard from my mum is ‘I don’t know what to cook today’. Apparently, feeding a family can be a trying task when you rarely get a day off and don’t want to be labelled monotonous. Blog writers might face the same problem from time to time.
When you started your blog, you were probably bursting with ideas and wrote with some regularity, probably even daily. Having set a routine and acquired diligent followers, you also managed to establish expectations. What happens when the ideas seem to peter out and maintaining that routine becomes difficult? Using the analogy of my mum’s meal management practices, allow me to offer some suggestions.
Diversify: Cookery shows and online recipes — mum swears that these are near inexhaustible sources of information for trying something new. Similarly, research — lots of it, don’t be miserly — will help bloggers unearth new topics of discussion or even stay abreast of the Twitter buzz and thus have something to talk about. So, leave your comfort zone and surf the Net or flick TV channels until you find something you don’t usually watch and then write about it. For instance, you are probably not a soap-opera kind of person and your blog has a more socio-political bent. You can experiment by watching a soap/some soaps for a week and then penning your sociological observations. Or you are an avid commentator of non-English soaps but take a week to watch English equivalents to offer some sort of parallel or just because you want to take a vacation from your soaps. Make the experiment interactive and ask your readers for suggestions, thus ensuring that they will be back to read the results.
Resurrect an old favourite: Sometimes, we arrive at the dinner table to discover that mum has decided to go back in time and cook something that’s tedious and therefore not often attempted but is a unanimous favourite. That is really the best kind of surprise. It’s possible that you have been writing for years now. Go back to your archives and unearth an old post that elicited a lot of discussion among your readers. Evaluate if enough has changed for it to be resurrected on the blog, maybe in a new avatar. Or maybe you have changed in your opinions and beliefs and now have a slightly different viewpoint. In which case, present your old post and list how your opinions have changed and why. Whatever you decide to do, don’t short-change your readers by trying to pass off an old post as a new one. If they have been following you diligently, they’ll recognise the scam and you will lose credibility and following. Be honest with them. Tell them you were feeling uninspired and decided to revisit past triumphs, if you can call it that.
Take a break: Sometimes, the thought of us waiting to be fed like little screeching chicks in a nest is too much for mum and she abandons us to our fate and takes a break from cooking. We usually don’t complain. However, your readers might not be as understanding about being deprived of their regular fix of your writing. So, tell them you are taking a break to tune up the engines and come back roaring. Share bits of your life you are comfortable sharing and explain why you feel a little run down in the creative department. If you have an arrangement to notify them through email of your energised return that would work even better. It also strengthens the sense of solidarity that your followers share with you.
Outsource: Of course, if you feel bad about leaving them hanging because you haven’t a clue when the Muse will revisit, there’s another fail safe: outsource. When mum decides to outsource, we order home delivery. You have similar options for your blog. Feature a link to another blog post that is in sync with your sensibilities (or not, if you are democratically inclined and want to feature every side of the coin) as your post for the day, with a short introduction. You could also feature something that might not seem like a regular feature of your blog by stretching the boundaries a little. If you write a cookery blog and typically discuss ingredients, recipes, and techniques but are not feeling the zing, look up the Net for celebrity cooking idiosyncrasies. It makes a nice change, requires little actual writing on your part and takes care of having something available for when your readers log in. It doesn’t hurt to explain to your readers that while you are bingeing to get your creative juices flowing, you thought of adding some variety to spice up your blog. If you have friends who are as effusive as you are, get them to write for you as guest writers. If you make this is a recurring arrangement you needn’t bother about blogging block because you will find that someone else taking responsibility ease the pressure on you.
Longer term, a blog in partnership with a friend or a like-minded colleague or a parent or spouse is also an idea with merits. That way, you have more human resources to dedicate to the enterprise, the ideas of two or more people rather than just one and someone to cover for you when the block sets in.
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