Blapril and Figuring Out What to Write

We are deep into the second week of Blapril.  If you’re not sure what Blapril is… welcome I guess… go here and read all about it.  I would argue that even today it is not too late to join in.

The Blapril commeth

It is not too late because because there are six weeks worth of Blapril planned, having started in March and not finishing until May and, as I noted, we’re not even done with week two.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

This week is Topic Brainstorming Week and I am going to declare myself both good and bad at that.

On the “good” side of that statement I offer as evidence this blog.  More than 13 years and 5,400 posts down the road I think it is safe to say that I can come up with things to write about.  My basic goal is have a post for every week day, which would be about 250 posts in a year.  Looking at my stats, I have not fallen below 350 posts for any full year.

Arguing against that is the fact that I rarely, if ever, do anything that one would consider brainstorming.  Part of my systems studies minor involved trying to be able to find different ideas and points of view, which left me with all sorts of techniques for approaching problem solving and idea generation.  The books from that are some of the few I have hung on to for all the years that have passed since college.

But I don’t really do any of that.  Not usually.  In fact, I do what one might argue is the opposite of creativity, which is structure.  This blog has a system as to what gets posted and even when it gets posted.  For example, Blapril posts are something that mostly happen on Thursdays here.  today’s post got bumped by something time sensitive.  The instance group posts are a Wednesday thing.  Patch notes for EVE Online releases tend to be on a Tuesday, the month in review is on the last day of the month, SuperData is on the Thursday before that, and so on.

This is all because my blog is not so much to inform or review as it is to remember and create a timeline.  I went over this last Blaugust if you are interested in more detail.

So now that I have argued that I cannot really help you with topic ideas, let me turn around and try to help you with topic ideas… at least in a general way.

  • You don’t need a big finish

Early on in my blogging I felt that every post had to come to some sort of epiphany as its conclusion.  This was no doubt left over from school essays and such.  But not everything has to be a teachable moment or change somebody’s mind.

  • You don’t even need a big topic

I have at various times questioned whether or not a given topic is important enough to be worth posting about.  It is fun and fulfilling and feels good to take on big topics of the day.  But, in doing so, you may feel that your lesser achievements, your personal tales, your odd observations, might not stack up.  Don’t worry, they do.  I have found that a year or five years down the line it is often the little things I wrote about that end up being the most fun to rediscover.

  • You don’t need to be first

The truth of the matter is that no matter what you write about, somebody else has covered that topic before.   But it is also very likely that somebody will hear about that topic first from you… news doesn’t travel in a straight line… and even if you don’t have a radically different perspective on a given topic of the day

  • You don’t need a fresh new topic every day

After some time you may, like Alexander, weep when looking back at the breadth of your work, thinking that you have no new topics to conquer.  You may worry about repetition or covering old ground again.  Trust me, as you get older you’ll get over it.  And it isn’t necessarily repetitive to go back to a topic if something has changed, some experience has altered your perspective, or if enough time has passed that you want to explore a topic once more.  And by “enough time” I could me a day, a month, a year.  Whatever.

  • Every post doesn’t need to be a victory

It is always nice to celebrate wins, and some people can be reluctant to talk about failure, but after years of this I often find that disaster makes for a more interesting story.

  • This is all just my opinion

If you’re blogging goal is to tackle big fresh new topics first, drawing grand conclusions out at the end of each, who am I to tell you no?  But some people will worry about the above, worry if it is alright to cover a topic that might have already gotten a lot of play or express an opinion that aligns with somebody’s earlier post.  It is fine.  Nobody will mind.

In the end, the only advice I have that I will stand behind is the bit I trot out every year, which is to make the blog you want to read.  If you’re not happy reading it, or re-reading it as time goes by, I think you might have missed your core demographic.

Anyway, how about a few others with some better ideas or insights about actual topics this week:

Voice your opinion... but be nice about it...

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