Posted: 24 Apr 2009 12:33 PM PDT
Joel Drapper asks:
I would like to know how you come up with ideas for posts, and also how you store, and organize those ideas.
Most of the times ideas will come to me naturally. Sometimes I am surfing the web, other times I am taking a shower, and the idea will just pop in my head.
There are times when I not particularly inspired, though, and on those occasions I need to use some exercises to get the creative juices flowing. Here are the exercises that I use:
1. Looking on other niches. Sometimes I will browse around websites that cover completely different niches, and I will take a look at the content that they are publishing and evaluate whether or not I could translate those ideas or concepts to my own niche.
2. Reading print stuff. The print industry is much older than the web, and those guys have a lot of experience. You just need to buy a newspaper or a magazine on a topic related to your niche and I am sure you will get plenty of ideas for new posts.
3. Doing something else. Sometimes it is useless to keep trying harder. Maybe you are stressed with the work, maybe you are tired. On those occasions, doing something completely different can help. If you work in your home, for example, you could go out for a bicycle ride or jogging with a friend.
4. Using paper to brainstorm. Jotting ideas down on a piece of paper is a very efficient way to organize your thoughts. It becomes easier, after all, to interlink things and to see what ramifications they could have.
That is pretty much it.
The second part is about storing the ideas, which is just as important. In fact, one common mistake that people do is to not store their ideas somewhere, relying solely on their memories. Then when they realize the idea is gone for good.
My process for storing ideas is the following: when they hit me I write them down as soon as possible. If I am outside of my office, I use any piece of paper that I can put my hands on. If I am inside my office, I will write it down on the notebook that is always on my desk or on the whiteboard. Then at the end of the day I will add that idea to my WordPress dashboard as a draft. Usually I just include the title and some central topics that I think could be covered on the future post.
As of today I have 30 or so drafts stored. Whenever I don’t have something to post on a given day I will just go through those drafts, pick one, and write it.
What about you guys? What exercises do you use to come up with ideas, and how do you store and organize them?