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How Do You Generate Ideas For Blog Posts?

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Ideas are gold. As bloggers, we “live and die” by them. So much so that we can look at that picture and caption it one of several different ways.

  1. Where the heck did all the ideas go?
  2. OK. I have to come up with an idea to write about.
  3. Here I am, God. What do you want me to write about next?

At some point, we’ve all probably hit all three of those. So, where do ideas come from and how do we capture and use them?

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV) The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

That verse should probably be tacked up on every Christian writer’s wall, right over their writing area. As much as we’d like to believe that every idea we have is new, fresh, and unique with us, that’s just not true. Sometimes, it can seem that ideas are like apples hanging on a tree, just waiting to be picked.

Except, after awhile, there don’t seem to be as many apples as we thought there were. Still not a huge amount of fresh ideas. And not all ideas are equally important, not all ideas are good, and ideas don’t necessarily come when we want them. So, maybe there’s a fourth possibility.

All Of The Above

Number four is “All of the above”. The ideas are there, we get to pick them, the ones God gives us are not often unique. More often than not, the things that God gives us to share aren’t unique because there are only certain things that need to be communicated often. The rest are just a sidebar.

Think of the song about The Potter’s Clay. We all start as clay, but the Potter makes some into bowls, some into candlesticks, others into bowls. And our own personality and imperfections will make each different. When you or I write, it’s not the same as what someone else creates. Because we’re each the part that’s different.

To be the most productive, it comes down to another three points for me.

  • Get out of the way and let God give me the idea.
  • Let God select when and how to share a particular thought.
  • Be ready for every idea, no matter where we find it.

Those are the foundations of my writing, in a nutshell. By not worrying about having to come up with an idea, I’m not blocking it with my own anxieties. So, how do I get the ideas and how do I handle them?

I Steal

How’s that for an answer? But think about the verse we quoted. No matter where I find the kickstarter, the subject’s been done. But not necessarily with the slant God is giving me. There are all kinds of sources:

  1. Bible passages – if one speaks to me, I put it in a post, add a tentative title. If I get nothing more, I save it as a draft. The rest will come, when it’s time.
  2. Quotations – there are a ton of sources. If a quote grabs my attention, it’s likely to do the same for my readers. I use Evernote for lots of things. Among them is saving quotes and writing ideas. We’ll get to that later.
  3. Other posts – sometimes my own, sometimes from others. They can be a starting point for what God wants me to share, it may be that something someone else has said is so blatantly undoctrinal that I can’t help but respond to it, or I may say something that, on reflection, I need to correct or modify, or just continue the thought.
  4. Books and magazine articles – both are good sources of starting material.
  5. Tweets – I promote my blog via Twitter. Several tweets a day linking to the latest post, mixed with retweets of quotes, usually relating to the subject of my post. If I see other tweets I really like, I’ll favorite them so that I can go back to them, either to retweet when it’s more appropriate or, if they’re too long, to use to seed a blog post.

Always Be Prepared: Carry Something To Save Notes

I said we’d get back to talking about Evernote. Let’s start by talking about using other things. A writer or blogger should always have something handy for taking notes. A pen and pocket notebook will do. We never know when someone will say something we want to quote correctly. And the longer an idea for a post isn’t documented, the more it evaporates away, crowded out by other things. At least that’s my problem.

As I said, a pocket notepad and pen will do, but I’m a techie. I prefer electronic versions. There are a lot of electronic notepads Some require typed input, others will do handwriting, a few can handle both. What’s available will depend on what smartphone or tablet you have. The Android apps I use that have a lot of great features and will use cloud services to make output accessible on other Android devices. Every major mobile OS has something like that. That’s where Evernote shines like no other.

What’s The Big Deal With Evernote?

It’s been around longer than its competitors. Instead of growing old gracefully, Evernote keeps revitalizing itself with new features and functions. And it keeps adding to the army of apps that support it or make use of it to add ways it becomes more useful. What I collect is organized into notebooks for easy access. And it can be categorized further with keyword tags.

There are Evernote mobile apps for all the major platforms, software for both Windows and Mac, and ways of clipping web material on all computer platforms (plus Android) and getting those into your Evernote account. For linux and maybe one or two other platforms, there’s still a web interface via browser. So, no matter what you use for input into Evernote, it’s accessible on some device no matter where you are.

I spent more time on Evernote than intended. It’s, by far, the most flexible of all the choices. But you may have something you already use and like. There’s a lot to be said for having a tool that’s familiar and comfortable. It eliminates learning curve issues. For some, it’s important to have every bell and whistle possible. For others, that notepad and pen can be the perfect solution.

What do you use to make sure there’s fresh material to write about?

[Photo Credit: From Moya_Brenn on Flickr]

About Bill Kraski

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6 Replies

  1. I share your sentiments. I also share some of your similar reflections on selecting content for blog posts. One additional point, is considering the need of my target audience. We know that ultimately the Lord Jesus is God’s solution for all man’s needs. But in what aspect? From what approach? The Lord reached people according to their need. Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman both had a need but He reached them in different ways. I’m still endeavoring to listen to people in whatever way I can to know better how to help them.
    Also, like you recommended, when I get inspiration for a post, I immediately put it into a file in Evernote.

  2. This can be really challenging. I like to write and I usually have some time each week to do it, but what to write about can stop me in my tracks. I think you’re right – praying about it and asking God what He wants you to write about should come first, then we have some real direction.

    We can also see what’s being talked about on Twitter and maybe write a post, coming at the subject from a unique angle.

    1. While I put a bunch of stuff in Evernote, I also, as mentioned, favorite tweets that make good seed thoughts. I don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s popular. That isn’t necessarily what God wants highlighted.

  3. Bill – this is such great advice. Thank you for responding with this post to my query on Google+. I will be saving this for future use. I might even get an idea for a blog from it! 😉

    Admittedly, I never thought to tweet my blog link throughout the day. My concern was always flooding my friends inbox with my blog tweets and coming off as corky with self-promotion, as well. I guess I’m kinda leary about doing so…I don’t want to come off as conceited or self-absorbed. We’ll see.

    Again, thanks for the post. I appreciate it. Grace and Peace to you, sir.

    In Christ,
    John

    1. Hey John, Chris here. I think there is a perfect balance between letting people know what you’re doing (people actually like it! I’ve had friends ask me why I didn’t promote these things MORE!) and over promoting. I like Michael Hyatt’s 4 to 1 ratio (or 80/20 as some say) where for every strongly self promoting thing you do (new blog post, request to check out your books etc) with 4 things that aren’t so self promoting (links to other peoples stuff, bible quotes, etc). That seems like an easy to remember and good principle. I hope that helps.

      (BTW I agree, Bill has some great tips)

  4. Hey Trevor. I know that you are in LA lot and on your WKUK tour you went all around Southern Calirofnia, but I am from Sacramento and I know we would really appreciate it if you did some shows here or anything. Also I can’t wait for the new album!!

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