By: Marilyn L. Davis
“All the ideas in the universe can be described by words. Therefore, if you simply take all the words and rearrange them randomly enough times, you’re bound to hit upon at least a few great ideas eventually.
Sausage donkey swallows flying guillotine, my love assembly line.” ― Jarod Kintz, The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They’re Over
Convoluted or a Cohesive Blog Post?
For each of us, including Kintz, there’s a process for writing. I’m not sure that I can fully appreciate his method, but I understand the humor. So, beyond stringing random words together, what are some better ways to get to a finished post?
First, decide why you’re writing. Is it to educate, entertain, or enchant? When you know your motive for writing, it helps you frame each post.
However, regardless of the motive for writing, each writer I’ve ever known has ideas and images crowding their mind, and they simply must get them recorded. If you carry a notebook, pad, or laptop, you can capture those ideas and words that fly through your thoughts, your observations, your feelings at the sight, or your pain and joy in the remembering.
Expanding on these seemingly random words, thoughts, or feelings, that’s how we create a blog post.
What Did I Do with that Great Idea?
I have a special traveling idea notebook, only used for observations and ideas, and I record them when I have them. I know that memory is funny; it is fluid, and like all fluids can wash away my thoughts.
The short-term memory only holds about seven pieces of information and that information fades quickly; sometimes in as little as 15-30 seconds.
Obviously, that’s not long enough to retain all of the ideas that come to us, so writing them down is essential. Whether it’s inspiring enough to be included in your finished piece is unimportant.
Your job as a writer is to build upon the ideas that have merit, but you won’t have material to work with if you don’t record those random thoughts.
One way to build upon the word or idea is to Brainstorm. We usually think of brainstorming in groups.
However, there is solitary brainstorming, and house cleaning rolled into one.
Idea + Association + Questions
Write down every word that you associate with your idea or words and phrases that you connect to this topic or subject. Some people find this easier if they have categories for brainstorming, similar to having other people prompt or spark imagination in the typical group brainstorming. If you’re brainstorming by yourself, simply answer these questions to get you started on your blog post.
- What do you know about this topic?
- Why are you focused on this idea or topic?
- Where did this idea come from – a look, smell, a passing remark at Starbucks?
- Did you read a passage from a book that jiggled and nudged a memory for you?
- What are your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about the topic?
- What are the pros and cons of writing yet another piece about this topic?
Brainstorm for five to ten minutes; scribble away and jot it down. At this point, do not edit or judge the writing, and don’t go back and correct spelling or grammar. I know it can be distracting – all those red underlined words or the annoying green grammar alerts.
Learn to ignore these disruptions in the process if you are brainstorming on a laptop or desktop, or just turn off these features; they will hinder the process of free association.
Association into A Post
Free writing is your first attempt at your article. You have your brainstorming ideas and a general sense of what you want to write about; now it’s time to put your thoughts on paper or screen.
Now you put those words on the screen. Time yourself for five to ten minutes; writing without editing or stopping.
Whether you call this free writing or your first draft; it’s going to be disjointed, messy, and full of drivel.
You may end up throwing out more than you keep and you will definitely have to revise whatever you do keep, but you may end up with an excellent piece from this. And striving for our best writing with every piece should become a goal if you want to attract and keep readers.
Most people today read multiple articles specific to their interests, or for research. They do not have the time or the inclination to read every single thought or feeling that you have on your subject or topic. They want quality articles about their interests.
Looping and Looking for the Best Parts
Looping helps cull the valuable for an article from the rest that might work elsewhere. This process enables you to remove those parts that might have merit elsewhere, just not in your current article.
After all, it does not matter if you have a killer end sentence if no one reads it; save it for another article if it’s not germane to your writing.
Another consideration is word count; some sites restrict article length, so some material may not make a final cut. We use what has merit and save the rest for a prompt or portions for another piece. We use those other disconnected parts from one article in another which may develop into a series or even the book. Taking those parts and clustering allows you to think tangentially.
While tangential or divergent thinking is considered a thought disorder, it can work to a writer’s advantage. For instance, I’m cleaning a wooden table, then I’m asking myself what kind of wood is it, then I look out the window and see a maple tree, not the same type of wood as the table, but the leaves are turning, and I remember gathering maple syrup with my aunt.
Although it may look like a convoluted way to get to the story, if you allow yourself to think in this manner, you may find inspiration for that next article, blog, or story.
Association Run Amuck?
But what happens if you get side-tracked or stuck in the middle of the process? If you are stuck, look around the room, focus on the taste of your coffee, think about why this is an important message that you want to deliver.
It is important to us at Two Drops of Ink to publish informative, entertaining, and interesting posts for our readers.
However, we know that how something is said is just as important as what is said.
Therefore, we are looking for submissions at Two Drops of Ink, so our readers get a variety of tones, styles, and voices.Just read our Submission Guidelines if you’re interested in guest posting.
If you’ve taken your ideas and inspiration and published a book, consider submitting it to The Library Stacks.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing