Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to Create Successful Blogposts: Part 1, Planning

Ideas tend to fly all around me. When I don't write things down, I get frustrated because I forget really great writing material. It can disappear in a second.

That's where drafting comes in handy. On both my blogs, at any given time there are 8-10 drafts in the works. They start out as outlines of topics I'd like to write about like the numerous balloon stories I have on Mr. Busypants or a list of possible Tuesdays with Jorie topics.

For example, when I came up with the Tuesdays with Jorie column, I immediately started brainstorming catchy blog titles. I already had Jorie Costanza (George from Seinfeld) and Jorie Balboa (aka Rocky) titles, but I knew there were a lot of themes that worked well with a name like Jorie.

As I type, I have an entire draft of titles just waiting for stories to match. I'm certain I will come up with great posts to go with "Jump for Jorie," (we do have a trampoline) "Jorie Gilmore," (the mother-daughter relationship) and "Give me the Jorie Details" (which I may just tie in with my recent viewing of the mystery event Harper's Island and my love for the film that resurrected teen horror genre, Scream. This I could somehow connect to Jorie's recent bout of blood-curdling screams).

In fact, I will often review this list and write notes of stories that might just go with the title. It's how I came up with my latest Tuesdays with Jorie column, Jorie Spelling: Fashion Diva. The drafting process went like this:

The Initial List
Recently I've noticed that Jorie has strong feelings about wardrobe. It's the basis of most of our arguments. As I saw these battles increasingly occurring, I started making notes on which outfits created the most drama. Eventually, I decided that because of her role as Donna Martin, fashion designer, that the Jorie Spelling title would work well with this subject.

Notes and Connections
One thing I'm constantly looking for as a writer is connections. The kid stories generate throughout the day as those writable moments occur; I write them down somewhere--anywhere. I try to carry a small notebook in my purse. Other times I have a larger spiral in my work bag. I've also been known to jot ideas down on tiny pieces of paper that I pool together into a master list. And now that I have the iPhone, as I drive, I create voice messages. I get some of my best thinking done in the car.

When looking for connections, I look for similar themes or symbols, pop culture references that work well with the subject, and timely events that pull things together well. For example, it's really rare that I would go over a day in the life. While a story that chronicles the days events can work, I prefer to look for a specific theme (like fashion and fighting), symbol (like megablocks and the toilet), pop culture reference (like my favorite teen dramas/dark comedies), or events (like the Fourth of July).

Tune in tomorrow for How to Create Successful Blogposts: Part 2, Drafting, and then again on Friday for How to Create Successful Blogposts: Part 3, Revision.

1 comment:

Beth L. Gainer said...

Great posting. I find that my process is similar to yours. If I don't write something down the moment I think about it, it goes into never-remember-it-again space.

The point that really hit home was the one about connections. I think that's the key: it's in finding connections in themes, etc. that we can put together a nice piece of writing.

In my writing, I often try to connect ideas that aren't normally connected. It's our job as writers to make the connections for our readers.