We’ve spoken before about generating ideas for blog posts, and how one of the crucial elements in the process for me is capturing an idea when it arrives.
It’s all too easy to come up with an idea (or have an idea spontaneously appear in your mind), think that you’ll remember it next time you sit down to write, then forget it entirely a minute later.
Sometimes you forget not just the idea itself, but even that you had it in the first place!
How many ideas fall by the wayside, never to blossom, because they’re never captured by their creator in that initial state of blooming?
This is why for 20 years plus, I’ve noted down ideas in some way when they arrive, either in a notebook, on a scrap of paper, or as a text draft or note on my phone.
What’s evolved from this habit in recent years is being able to then write the majority of a blog post in my head.
Now I don’t mean I have the ability to perfectly retain a sequence of five or six hundred words in my head.
But if I talk out the words in my mind, I can start to build the structure and content of the post.
Once I have the title (or a working title), I then think about the opening line. Then the main direction I want the post to go, the main point(s) I want to share.
All of this can be talked out (in my head) as if the post is already complete, and I’m reading it back.
By doing this (and repeating it a few times), I can fairly quickly have a new post formulated, without having typed a single word.
Then when I do come to type (which I ensure is soon after, or too much is forgotten), it’s not like writing a new post completely from scratch, with that fear of the blank page many of us have.
It’s now more like recounting a familiar fairy story to a child.
Of course it will never be word for word identical each time.
But the main elements and characters and point will be there. Because this time you’re telling it is not the first time you’ve told it, it’s the third or fifth or fiftieth.
Once the blog post is written, I can return (either immediately or at a later date) to edit, correct any errors, and polish up some of the more bland vocabulary and clumsy grammar, before sharing it with you.
But going through that process of writing the post in my head a few times first, makes it hugely easier when I do put fingers to keyboard.
Do you write blog posts in your head in a similar way? How do you capture ideas for the creative pursuits you’re involved in, so they don’t get lost and forgotten?
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23 thoughts on “How To Write Entire Blog Posts In Your Head”
I have plenty of ideas, as do we all, but I find that my favourite way to.write is in response. I seem to need a trigger.
I have started a couple of blogs in the past and they take me forever to set up, and a matter of weeks to whither on the vine.
So I congratulate you Dan on keeping on track and maintaining a pretty good standard along the way, it is not easy.
Thanks Stephen. You might be amazed at how many new blog posts of mine come from an idea I got from someone’s comment on a different post.
I can relate to this! Like you, my blog posts are mostly built in my head before I actually write them… but nothing really seems to happen until I at least put a key sentence on my laptop screen, look at it for a while, and let it prompt me to expand upon the idea/statement/question.
Yes it’s all too nebulous and vague in the mind, once you get even a few words down there’s no going back, you can’t put the idea toothpaste back in the tube!
Thanks for reading and commenting Darius.
I never start a post (website/socialmedia) without, at least, a semi-formed idea. The blank page is not my friend. More or less I do the same things that you do, note down an interesting idea, develop it a bit in my head… only I’m a bit fast in sharing. This is because I know that if I dwell too long on a draft then I tend to never feel like it’s finished, and I may not even share it all. Also, I noticed that lately my posts are born as Instagram posts, short and to the point. I then find myself wanting to add on them and the website is the perfect avenue to do that. Thank you for sharing your creative process, it’s such an interesting topic!
Yes, very interesting. In the past I was involved in creativity coaching and it was incredible how many people considered they never had any good ideas, simply because they didn’t have a reliable way of capturing them. And nothing sophisticated, just a notebook or sketchbook or voice recorder.
I’m a bit of a mix I think. For my silly blog – I won’t link drop – I (try to) have a couple of regular features responding to prompts, which are largely ‘as I go along’ (it’s amazing how starting to write is the best idea generator for further ideas, I note those down if they strike me and if I don’t want to use them on that post) but I do also keep a notebook for ideas that strike me, screenshots of headlines, phrases or conversation snippets, some weird wordplay/rhyme ideas. I use Microsoft OneNote as it’s an flexible mobile capture method on the phone app, write note, picture, voice note etc, that then syncs reliably when you want to refer to, or have a browse of them, with the main app on the PC.
Weirdly, a lot of ideas do get ‘planned out’ in my head in that ‘woken up but still a bit dozy’ mode in the morning… noting those down ASAP is a habit that wakes up the other half fairly often.
For the photography one, it’s more like a simple few words to describe the place, time or feelings… I’m trying to knock back my tendency to go on mad tangents with it… ahem.
Yes, agreed on how many good ideas come just from starting to write, and nearly always the idea that arrives is better than the one I start with, so I scrap the original and go with the new one. But if I hadn’t started with something, I wouldn’t have got to the new idea.
I love that halfway place between dreams and wakefulness, and for some years I trained myself to sleep so I could experience this virtually every day.
These days it’s rare with a baby in with us, and a six year old that rarely sleeps past 7 and nearly always wakes before we do!
https://erickimphotography.com/blog/2019/01/03/how-to-blog/ this is eric kims take on this theme, i like his first sentence: “I think I’m one of the greatest photography bloggers of all-time”.
Thanks Pavel, plenty of sound advice in Eric’s post. I would clarify his opening statement by defining “greatest” as “most prolific” and “all-time” as the more accurate “last six or seven years”!
Always makes me laugh when people say “of all time” about things that have only been around a few years!
I agree. Very prolific. So many posts that everobody must be lost in them. He is also prolific on youtube. But probably it works for him. Probably sells his wrist straps (100 USD) and expensive workshops (1500 USD for 2 days).
Just start pecking (keyboard) away and once I’ve strung a few sentences together I know what I feel like writing about. Or sometimes I’ll be in the mood to pick out an image and start there and build my thoughts around that.
Pecking like an early morning bird seeking fresh juicy worms after a night of heavy rain…
As you know, I really enjoy how you write on your blog. It comes over as very spontaneous and almost stream of consciousness, beautifully rambling. Very much reminds me of Kerouac, who was a huge influence on my writing when I stumbled across him in my 20s. Not blog writing like on 35hunter, I might add, my more poetic stuff. Him and Dylan Thomas, plus a dash of extra Englishness mostly via Stephen Patrick, what a heady concoction!
Those are very kind words and it’s inevitable I’ll let you down at some point, leveling off into mediocrity (the mean, as it were) or just out-and-out revealing the total babbling fool (but honest and trying to at least be thoughtful and observe the golden rule as much as possible) that I really am but your encouragement means a lot and it’s all part of the fun and reward of being creative on here and getting to know each other in tiny parcels, so thanks Dan!
I remember a friend saying to me “everyone lets you down in the end” but explaining that didn’t mean in a way that would end a friendship, just that everyone’s human, even if they try their best 99% of the time.
I’m sure there will be many more enjoyable “tiny parcels” to come, nonetheless!
I only know what I want to write in the sense of the actual content of the post, if I’ve been able to research a photo sufficiently – then what I try to do (but don’t always succeed!) is write the post as soon as I have enough material, before I add the photo/s. The trouble with that is I, too, write posts in my head, but if I don’t type them up very soon after, I lose interest and get apathetic and they don’t make it into the blog, as I get so wound up about how to word them that I do draft after draft and can never work out what’s best! And this from an experienced blogger… bit pathetic really, sometimes! 🙂
I think the key is to not rewrite too much. There are posts I could have tweaked ad infinitum, but I’d rather get them out there and move on to another. I like Seth Godin’s CNP theory – make things as Close as Necessary to Perfect, rather than absolutely perfect.
This is so great! I’ve been jotting ideas down on cell/misc notebooks. I have more time for my blog now so I made a system where if I’ve jotted ideas down, I get them on a 3×5 card in the evening. I have my 3×5 cards organized into categories and I file the card after transferring the notes. There are 2 frequent post categories I don’t need to write in my head, but I’m increasing perspective posts. For example: Gen X being lumped in with Boomers and why didn’t we take care of the environment? NOW I’ve been online for 2 hours and STILL haven’t started the post draft! That’s a huge bad habit, not going directly to draft. BUT The structure you shared here is a great framework for me when I’m not home which is quiet-so I remember when I RETURN HOME. Please forgive my readings aren’t on recent posts because there are some I set aside when I can give proper attention.
I think it’s important to find a system for capturing ideas that works for each of us, and this of course will vary depending on the medium. A notebook for example might be great for song lyrics, but not melodies where you might prefer an audio device. And that audio device wouldn’t be much use for capturing a few sketches as a basis for paintings.
But if you can get as directly as possible to the final application or device you’ll be creating the work with, all the better, it eliminates all those potential opportunities for ideas to get lost and forgotten on the way.
If you’re traveling on a long journey by train, with a package to deliver, and there’s a train station close to your house, it wouldn’t make sense to put the package in your bag and walk ten miles, then hire a bike and transfer the package to the bike’s panniers and cycle the next fifty miles, then drop the bike off and put the package back in your luggage to get on the train, and so on. At every stage the package could get lost/damaged/forgotten. Just get it on the train as soon as possible!
I switched almost fully to WP for capturing ideas a few years back when their editing interface had an upgrade. I was using the lovely OmmWriter previously, but the WP interface evolved ever closer to that simple, distraction-free experience that OmmWriter gave, so decided to simplify and cut out another application and set of files.
I do use the notes app on my phone occasionally, if I don’t have internet access, but when I look at these now, there are blog ideas that have been sitting in there for months, even a year or more, because I didn’t then go back and transfer them to WP as a draft. And I rarely don’t have internet access these days. I think I’m going to go through the notes app, transfer any ideas I want into WP, delete the file, and not use it for this anymore. Thanks for the nudge!
Great analogy! I admit I’m still stuck using paper. Example: I take a copy of a paper instead of a cell pic. Then I have to keep track of the paper. I don’t know why but I prefer using 3×5 card files maybe bc I was 30 before windows? I’m a fast types but if I write it down, it seems REAL. I can recall it like a picture, but not pc typing. I’m frustrated with my mind’s limitations. However it’s so much more satisfying to be able to hold my card file, Journal, calendar-bc it’s an extension of ME.-creative evidence. I have had to think in New ways for my blog,which is good, but I’m certain it takes me 3x as long to do anything then most! I had to write ideas down on post- it’s in church, bc my phone was off lol, but at least I got them down this time….idk why but you & Jim’s photo blogs give me the freshest air for creativity! Thank you for “listening”. ( I’ve yet to meet any1 in my small town that has a BLOG .)
Melissa, I do agree that writing something by hand makes it easier to remember. If I need to go to the shops to buy a few things, I always write a list, and even if I don’t take it with me, I can kind of visualise the list and see what’s on it. That doesn’t really happen if I type the list on a computer or on my phone.
Actually just last week I bought a couple of new pens (I have a semi-dormant stationery addiction!) to use at work, as a change from standard Bic biros. There’s great pleasure in writing with a smooth pen… I could quite easily buy a new pen every day, I just stay away from sites like Jetpens – https://www.jetpens.com/ !
For blog posts though, it’s going to end up in WordPress eventually, so I might as well put it in there as a draft from the outset and eliminate any duplication and transferring.
Haha. Don’t even get me near the pen aisle or, not stationary, but planners/calendars and to-do list pads. 🕵
And oh and re local people with blogs, most of my social life is online (and I like it that way!)
I have no idea who in our village might have a blog!