Promise Yourself to Blog and Getting Ideas

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Welcome to a first of many regular installments from self acclaimed blogging "guru" Matticus. Learning about blogging techniques is one thing. Actually going through with them and carrying them out is another and that’s where I hope to help!

Several months ago, I wrote a public appeal to WoW blogs to keep blogging. I said that no matter what, writing is all that matters. What I failed to realize then is that I did not give specific ways to keep going. After all, it’s one thing for me to say to people to keep writing. But it’s another thing entirely for me to teach people to keep writing.

In other words, I explained what to do but not exactly how to do it. I’ve been extremely fortunate enough to have a balanced enough schedule to enable me to write as often as I can.

I can assure you, it is not an easy feat. I want to share with you a few writing and blogging techniques that I’ve used to help motivate myself to write.

Before I forget to mention it, blogging takes time. Some people take 5 minutes to write a thought provoking post. Some nut cases (like that Matticus character) spend 5 hours cranking out novel length posts. The bottom line is that blogging takes time to do. I can guarantee you that you will not be able to find time during a normal day between WoW, family and work (or in my case, school). In my case, I sacrificed WoW time during the day. During my fall semester, my classes would begin at 1130 AM. On those days, I would wake up, grab some food, and make it to school just after 930. This ensured that I would have 2 relatively free hours of time to write out an outline or a draft of a post. Sometimes I would just sit back and just mindmap my way into topics and develop them later.

I sacrificed my morning so that I could maintain my education, my raiding schedule and my blogging ability.

You have to make time to blog. Hand off your kid to your SO. Write on the bus. Do it during lunch or your coffee break. Even if you spend 5 minutes just scribbling something down on a set of Post-It notes, you’re still writing. It’s not something that automatically happens. You have to work at it.

The Mindmap

mindmap

If you’re ever stuck for ideas, I suggest giving this method a try. Start off with a few key words in what your blog focus is about. In my case, I lean towards raiding, guild business and being a Holy Priest. This is one of my earlier examples. From that point, try to think of a question or a difficulty that is apparent in WoW that you have some knowledge in dealing with. Even if you don’t have the smarts or ability, write about it anyway and illustrate the main issue. Maybe someone else will come along and address it or come up with a creative solution. Sometimes I end up abandoning the idea because another writer gets to it first. Other times, it’s because I end up having difficulty articulating what I want to get across and end up shelving it for the time being. You might recognize some of these both on my blog and on my Spiritual Guidance columns on WoW Insider.

So give it a try! Don’t reject any idea no matter how bad or lame it may seem. The idea is to use one idea to springboard yourself into another concept and to chain into another thought and so on and so forth.

What about the writing?

I continue to get questions all the time via email, private tweets and occasional comments. One of the most constant questions I get is how do I stay so motivated to write with all the affairs and responsibilities that I have to do?

I have a large variety of ways to stay focused and to keep writing. One of the methods I used early in my blogging career was the "Promise" method. The point hers is to make yourself publicly accountable to someone. It could be your girlfriend, your dad, your guildmate, or someone else important in your life.

I believe that promising someone else would have the desired effect. Don’t let them guilt trip you. However, a healthy dose of disappointment can go a long way into jump starting your writing until you get into a groove. Find someone who believes in you and your message. Have them call on you once in a while or message you online to check up on your status. Exchange E-Mails with a guildie or IM addresses.

Let me give you a case study.

A few weeks ago, Breana (yes this Breana) made a comment to me on how she hasn’t written on her blog in a few days.

Big mistake.

I told her right there and then that I wanted to see a blog post by her at some point tomorrow or else I would be disappointed. Alternatively, blackmail is also an option especially if they say something on Skype that’s not meant for public ears. Of course, this is just hypothetical. I would *never* blackmail any of my blogging colleagues. =)

Wording your commitments is important

How you word your promise is important. It can have a profound effect on your attitude.

The wrong way

  1. I would like to write 3 blog posts per week.
  2. I want to wake up at 10 AM daily to write.
  3. I hope I will never cheat on my girlfriend.

To me, all of those sounds like things you are not fully committed on. Think of the last one on that list especially. How the heck do you think your girlfriend’s going to feel?

The right way

  1. I will finish my blog post before dinner.
  2. I choose to spend 30 minutes a day writing after my raid is finished.
  3. 4 blog posts will be finished and published per week.

Don’t use words like want, plan or hope. In fact, lets make like Emeril and kick it up a notch. Here’s a few of my personal and outrageous promises:

  • I will not stop blogging until I become a writer for the New York Times.
  • I will keep blogging until I am well known enough to appear on the Tonight Show.
  • I will keep writing until I am noticed by WoW Insider.

Keep your short term goals realistic but keep your long term goals high. I never expected to meet any of them.

But you know what? 1 out of 3 ain’t bad.

This is a motivational guest post written by Matticus. What the heck are you even doing reading this footer? GO DO SOMETHING!

8 comments to Promise Yourself to Blog and Getting Ideas

  • […] I’ve started to hijack the TnB blogging space. I don’t have a set schedule or anything and these types of posts take an insane amount of inspiration to write. Anna’s been really good at covering the technical aspects of blogging. My role there is to be the coach and make sure you actually do it. […]

  • Matticus is totally gonna be on Larry King Live someday =P

  • So that’s the point of a mind map! Otherwise, great points. Interesting that solidifying your goals and plans applies to blogging, as well. I like the idea of writing up a storm until noticed by Wowinsider. However, quality above quantity, right?

  • Thanks a bunch Matticus!

    This is exactly what has been bugging me for the last week. I’ve got so much to do between more then full time uni and a part time job (not to mention actually wow-ing once in a while) that i started doubting if i could keep a blog up.

    This little “kick in the butt” was what i needed :)

    Thanks again! :)

  • Hey Matticus,

    You have some solid ideas here and I’m going to make note of them. The mind map is a good idea too. Just jot down anything that pops into mind and then start asking why this, why that. Connections get made and you have an post idea.

    Also, I don’t think one HAS to have an original post each time. If someone writes something cool then go ahead an write your thoughts on it, linking to the original. Join the conversation and relieve the stress. :)

  • Rav

    You kids and your sophisticated ideas…

    If you find yourself staring dreadfully at a blank screen, while your ideas run for cover, go around with paper and a pencil. Sure, it ain’t the most bleeding edge technology, but it can get the job done.

  • […] Following the advice given by Matticus on Twisted Nether, I’m going to give you guys my rough plan for […]