Sometimes I find myself with absolutely nothing to say and yet decide to write a post anyway. Do you ever have that problem? I sure do – and I thought it might be fun to share some secrets with you about how you can salvage the day when you decide to write a post, and have nothing to say.
I found this quote of a quote by Jeff Atwood to summarize nicely my feeling on blogging and inspiration:
Consider your writing a natural extension of your spoken conversations. If you aren’t comfortable reading it out loud, rewrite it until you are. In the words of Elmore Leonard:
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Secret #1: Find a good quote, quote it, restate it, and revolve your post around it. For added effect (in case you feel like you really can’t get your/their point across), make sure to (Secret #1.5) simply bold the summary of the sentence, which gives it a weight of summarily representing the original quote in a different manner, rendering the initial thought yours.
Make sure to follow up the initial quote (which should establish the point of the post) with another quote/summary pairing that supports it and allows you to be clever – even if it ultimately distracts from the original point. Rob Conery states this very concisely:
Make sure to follow up the initial quote (which should establish the point of the post) with another quote/summary pairing that supports it and allows you to be clever – even if it ultimately distracts from the original point
Secret #2: Inject a completely random image of something that’s supposed to be symbolic:
Secret #3: Should you lead off the following paragraph with a question? Probably not – but if you’re worried about this you can always answer yourself with a bolded sentence, thus creating and disposing a nice recursive black-hole paragraph in one pass. For good measure, make sure you follow this up with another long quote from someone who’s books you read a lot of:
Now wait a minute, Mr. Socks Fox!
When a fox is in the bottle where the tweetle beetles battle
with their paddles in a puddle on a noodle-eating poodle,
THIS is what they call…
…a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled
muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir!
Fox in socks, our game is done, sir.
Thank you for a lot of fun, sir.
Secret #4: Lotsa Links. It’s important after a quote (especially one with the magnitude of Fox in Socks) to pick up the thread and carry it forward to the next idea: Make sure you have a plethora of links to other important things you’ve written. Especially if they’re on the topic at hand. Self-linking is crucial to driving more hits to your blog. Jeremy Wagstaff of loosewire puts it very well:
It’s a nuisance more than a crime, but to me it still undermines a central tenet of the web: links should be informative and not misleading. If you are linking to anything other than what your reader would expect, then you’re just messing around with them.
Clearly Jeremy understands the impact that proper self-linking can provide, when done properly.
Secret #5: The finish of the post is your money shot – the thing that your readers will remember as they warm up their keyboards to tell you that your blog is starting to suck and your writing has become stultifyingly formulaic and boring. Make sure that you restate what you’ve said, and (keeping in mind Secret 1.5) finish up by confirming that the previous 5 or so minutes were a complete waste of your readers time. Or just ask them what they think and be sure not respond to comments :).