If you're new to blogging, it can sometimes be difficult to put your ideas into a post. How do you get from an idea to a fully fledged blog article? Here are a few pointers to get you started.
Create some ideas
Brainstorm as many ideas as you can. Think about the subjects you want to write about, and the titles of articles that you'd want to read/write about. The important part at this stage is to get as many ideas down on paper as possible, and not to criticise them. Quantity is the important factor at this point.
Refine an idea
Once you have a nice long list of ideas, it's time to pick which subject you're going to write about. Pick the title that appeals to you most, and then take a new sheet of paper (or word processor document) and start brainstorming ideas about it. As before, quantity is what we're going for here.
To get you started, ask yourself the following questions whilst you're brainstorming:
- What do you want to teach? – If you're writing an instructional post, ask yourself what you want to teach? What knowledge do you want your readers to gain?
- What idea(s) do you want to spread? – Do you want to plant the seed of an idea in your readers' minds? What possibilities do you want to open their minds to?
- What issues do you want the reader to think about? – Are you trying to draw attention to a current world issue? If so, what is it? Do you want your readers to take action about it?
- Do you want to stir creativity? – Do you want your readers to take creative action about something? Do you want poems or drawings?
- What comments do you want to receive? – If you're trying to get feedback on something, what kind of feedback are you looking for? Sometimes the best way is to ask your readers and see what they come up with. If you're wanting to cause a stir, what hornets nest are you going to poke with your stick?
These questions aren't appropriate for all blog posts, but they give a good idea of where to start.
Create an outline
Now that you have a list of what points you want to cover, it's time to create an outline. The outline is the framework which your article is based around.
Create headings from points that you want to cover, and think about how much text you want to devote to each particular point.
Write it (finally!)
Now all the planning is out of the way, it's time to get writing. Hurrah!
At this stage, you are still concentrating on writing. Don't be tempted to edit what you've written, as it slows down the creative process and can induce writer's block. You may end up repeating the same sentence several times in a paragraph, but leave that for the editing stage. Writing and editing are two separate activities, and they should really be done at separate times.
Take a break
Once everything is written down, take a break from writing and do something completely different. Go out for a walk or whatever, but make sure you take a break. This gives you time to think about what you've written, and you'll come back more refreshed and ready for the next phase.
Editing can be broken down into two phases:
- Initial reading – Read through your article, and highlight any parts you think could use a rewrite. You can use the note taking option in most word-processors, and leave notes around items you wish to revise. If it's a big article, it may also be beneficial to have somebody else proof-read it for you too.
- Rewriting – Rewrite any of items you noted in the first instance. This can be quite a difficult process, so be patient with it.
You may want to repeat this process several times for important pieces, but once is generally enough to catch most problems.
Make it look nice
Check everything is formatted nicely. Have you broken the text up with headers, bullet points, diagrams etc? Does the article appeal to the eye? Formatting is often overlooked, but a well formatted article can be a real benefit to the reader.
If you're not sure about your formatting, try looking at it yourself from a reader's point of view. What areas are your eye drawn to? Would any of the text benefit from being broken up with a picture, or split into a new paragraph entirely?
Create your title
Now that you're happy with how your article reads and looks, it's time to think of a title. A good title should be:
- Clear – Make sure the reader knows what the article is about
- Concise – Avoid making the title too lengthy.
- Emotive – The more emotional the title, the better.
If someone has subscribed to your RSS feed, the title may be the one chance you have to convince them to read the rest of the article.
This methodology is probably too long for shorter articles, but if you're wanting to write something a bit longer than it is very beneficial to break the process down into manageable chunks. As well as making the process simpler, it will also make your final article more readable, and that's a big benefit for your readers.