This Blaugust is Promptapalooza where we spend the month chasing a series of daily prompts… if we so desire. I opted in, but only for the minimum effort, which meant writing about the prompt I had drawn on the day it was due. Mission accomplished.
It isn’t that I am against any of the other prompts on the list, but I am not sure I really have anything to add. But the prompt from August 9th prompt, led by P over at Nerdy Bookahs, felt like something I could address in some way. It just took me most of the month to get to it.
The pompt itself is:
Share the process you go through in order to create content, both mental and mechanical.
Which sounds a bit pretentious to me. I am not a fan of the idea of “content creators” as it is both over broad if you interpret it literally and often extremely narrow in the vision of some. A few weeks back somebody asked on Twitter for “EVE Online Content Creators” to speak up and be recognized. The person really wanted Twitch streamers and people who make YouTube videos. People who write stuff? Not content creators to them.
So I am a fan of saying what you mean on that front. I am a blogger. I write a blog. I do not “create content.” How does one even define “content?” How many units of content are created by a Twitch stream versus a YouTube video versus a blog post. Some of my posts are remarkably content free, so will likely not spoil your diet if you’re trying to cut back on content. You will not get your USDA recommended minimum amount of daily content by navigating to my URL.
In fact, I would argue that, 300 word in to this post I have created no content so far. Maybe I should stop grousing and move on, eh?
So how do I write blog posts, which is how I am going to interpret the prompt?
First, there are three types of posts on my blog. They are:
- I did a thing
- A thing happened
- I have an opinion about a thing
The first is the meat and potatoes of this blog. The instance group runs a dungeon, I write about it. I am in a big fleet battle in EVE Online, I write about it. I do something new in Minecraft, I write about it.
Easy. I generally write about it as a story, a tale of how I or we started in situation A and ended up in situation Z.
The second is the structure that holds the blog together. Weeks can go by where this is mostly what I post about. There are lots of these, an you probably recognize some of the common ones. EVE Online releases a update or the Monthly Economic Report. SuperData sends me their digital revenue chart. An MMORPG I am interested in announces, reveals, or actually launches an expansion. An anniversary of some sort arrives again. Something new and relevant to my interests launches. The last day of the month arrives. It is Memorial Day.
This is interrupt based blogging. Stimulus, response. These not only give a month structure… unsurprisingly, I am usually aware of when the last day of the month falls… but gives me filler to chew on when I haven’t done something I feel like writing about.
I have an opinion covers most everything else. Quote of the Day posts are generally vehicles for an opinion. Book reviews, movie reviews, posts about shows we have binge watched during the pandemic, those are all opinion pieces. They are not stories and, while they can be timely, they are generally not as locked into a time slot as, say, an expansion launch or the end of the month.
As for the mechanics of how I write blog posts, I wish I had a process I could share.
I tend to sit down and just start writing. If I am writing about something I did, I will generally at least go and look at any screen shots I may have taken along the way. You will find some early blog posts about the instance group where I talk about taking notes, but that fell by the wayside for the most part. At best I’ll jot a sentence or two into a Notepad++ document, usually some small tidbit I want to remember. Maybe I will write very simple timeline… we went here, A blew up, B said something funny, we went home… but that is about it. Screen shots are usually my reminder.
And then I write the story. I might revise it a bit, especially if I think about it over night, though that can be a mixed blessing. If you see a horribly mis-matched sentence in the middle of a post, that is usually the result of my thinking about the post in the middle of the night, obsessing about some phrase, getting up in the morning and adding it in, and then not checking to see if it actually made a damn lick of sense. There have times when I have tacked something on to the end of the sentence that mirrors a revision I put at the start of the sentence, but forgot about.
So it goes.
When I write about something that happened, those are the posts that involve the most research. I go back and look at how the SuperData chart changed since the previous month. I open up the .csv data files to get regional numbers to compare against past months. When an expansion launches I try to mention the theme, how much new content is being added, and if it is a WoW expansion, how long it was since the last expansion with a list showing other expansions for comparison.
I take “a thing happened” and try to apply some context. That is my value add, though the value may only be seen by me.
These posts not only give the blog structure, but also have structure themselves based on past posts, which also makes them easier to write. My Month in Review posts follow a pretty strict format. Even ones that change up a bit, like patch notes, generally have a formula that lets me put things together quickly. Practice and all that.
And then there are the opinion pieces. Aside from Quote of the Day posts, which tend to be quick and spontaneous based on something that popped up, these are usually things I think about in the shower or while trying to get to sleep.
I can hear an objection out there. Yes, these three post types are not mutually exclusive. I have written, as an example, about an event the CCP launched for EVE Online, told the story of my own experience with that even, and given my opinion about said event, all in a single post. Rare is the post that does not have an opinion, stated or implied.
But the posts generally are written for one reason, and the other two may or may not tag along. So that EVE Online event post example would be “A thing happened” primarily. But you can tell which is which by what the theme is based on; a story, some facts, an opinion.