Hello guys !
A little over a month ago, I made a post about What Makes People Come Back to a Blog and I promised back then that I’ll start doing helpful 101 posts for new bloggers or just bloggers who want the extra little help. So here I am today with a post about discussions, to hopefully break them down and give you a tip or two that I gathered from my own experience as someone who has been writing them almost weekly for a year, which doesn’t make me a professional, it just gives me one more excuse to ramble. Also, this is in no way me saying that you *need* to write discussion posts to be a good blogger or some nonsense of the sort, this is just me sharing my personal thoughts that I hope will be helpful to someone.
I know discussion posts seem a little daunting and intimidating, I know, it took me a few months to finally take the plunge and start writing them but once you get into the rythme of writing them and find a system that works for you, they become a lot more manageable. You can break the discussion post process into 2 parts essentially, the “getting an idea to write about” part and then the actual writing part, and those are essentially going to be the sections of this post.
I’d hate to break it to you but… there’s no magical well. It’s more like several random ponds from which you have to fish ideas but you most likely lose half of them as soon as you think you have them. Or maybe that’s just me? Anyway, what this means is that I get my ideas from various places and lose most of them before I can write them down. Sigh, why am I so scatterbrained?
This is the most obvious one because we get most our inspiration from other bloggers which is a good thing, with the condition of drawing a line between copying and getting inspiration. There are two case scenarios here. The first is that you see a topic you find interesting but that you want to add more to, maybe because your opinion is different, maybe because you feel like the blogger left things out that matter to you, whatever your reason is, just make sure you’re not saying the exact same thing the other person said, add some of your personality and opinions in there, it’ll take you a long way. The second is that you read a post that sparks another idea for you, it may be just reading one sentence in the post, or just one idea you’d like to develop on, this one gives another post entirely but.. it’s still inspired from another blog.
This is kind of *my* thing and where I draw most of my ideas from. I’m very involved in the book community on Twitter. Consequence? I get most my inspiration from the conversations on there, the people I surround myself with are really thoughtful (although not infallible, none of us are) so I always love getting their perspectives and they’re part of the reason I can have decent posts, because their points of view make me see things more roundedly, if that makes sense. Sometimes it can be something as small as a single tweet of someone just voicing their opinion on a matter or another, like someone complaining about girl friendships in YA made me write a whole post about it.
Your own experiences
It doesn’t necessarily have to be something deep. For example, both 12 Things No One Tells You about Book Blogging and Why Don’t I See myself? are drawn from my experiences, where one is fun and light the other is deeply personal and something I’m very passionate about. All this to say that you can get a wide range of posts from yourself, what are things you love? Things you don’t? How do those things link to books? or to blogging? It’s fairly easy to create those links once you know what part of you you’re getting inspired from. Going back to the Why Don’t I See Myself? post, that one I wrote during a fairly tough week for the muslim community, I was sad, angry, frustrated and in need of an outlet. My outlet is naturally my blog so I tried channeling my feeling into talking about Muslim representation in books.
Well, ain’t this the most obvious things. We are running book blogs after all so it’s only normal that books would inspire us. Did you read a book that has a romance trope you like? Write about your favorite tropes. A book that you found harmful to your own minority? Write and discuss a list of things you don’t want to see anymore in your representation. A book with an amazing siblinghood? Write about what that means to you. There’s so much that can be sparked from your books if you just pay enough attention to what goes on inside your brain when reading.
A tip I have for you is write ALL the ideas you have right when you have them on your phone or a notebook because from personal experience, if I don’t do that, I am sure to lost the idea. And most ideas I get I don’t write about right away, most of the time, I need to let it sit and mature and maybe even do a bit of research before venturing into my writing journey. Speaking of which, that’s what we’ll be tackling next.
Get a first rough draft that you can work on
Just write away, let every thought you have on the topic out, no filtering, no second-guessing, nothing. Whether you end up with 500 or 5000 words doesn’t matter, what matters is that you let your thoughts flow as they come. Once that is done and if you’re anything like me, it will most likely be overly rambly (believe it or not what you get has a lot of useless rambling cut out) and some points might be repeated or misplaced, fret not IT ALL CAN BE FIXED.
What I usually do is read through it until I hate it (would NOT recommend) then delete things that don’t fit with the rest and move some paragraphs around until I’m satisfied again, I ALSO try my best to get rid of all typos but yeah that doesn’t always go according to plan. Granted, it’s not the best method, but it works for me so it might for you too.
Format the post in which ever way works
You might have noticed that for me the best and easiest way to go about this is to break my discussions into smaller “more manageable sections” because my ideas tend to scatter and that way I can recenter myself and know I want to talk about, that also helps a lot when I’m rearranging my ideas to know which idea goes where. I mostly do this while writing my first draft because it helps in having some kind of outline.
I generally have titles and subtitles (like here) sometimes only titles and more rarely none at all. It depends on what works for the post, sometimes I really CANNOT break into sections and that is fine, as much as I like my posts to have the same structure, I don’t stress myself over it and just go with the flow.
The length doesn’t matter
Do not compare the length of your post with the one of others, BAD BAD IDEA. As long as you say what you have to say and get your point across and *you* are satisfied with it, that’s what counts. Make sure you are clear and precise in what you mean and where your post is going (I sometimes am afraid my point gets lost in the midst of ramblings) and if you’re able to achieve that in 700 words great, but if you need 3000 words that’s great as well, don’t fall into the pressure of what the norm is, because fact is, there is no norm. Some of my discussions are 700-800 words while some are 3500-4000 and that doesn’t make some better than the other, they’re just different.
- Write the post a few days (or weeks) before it is supposed to go up so that you give yourself enough room to get the post the way you want it, especially if you don’t work well under time pressure, AND to have some room for rereads and edits.
- Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion but keep it respectful. Sometimes discussions can get too heated and we get carried away in our own opinions, leaving no room for other people’s or even erasing them completely.
- Ask questions at the end of the discussion. This way people can engage with you and give their opinions on the topic.
That’s pretty much it for this post. I think. I hope I didn’t forget anything. In any case, if you have questions feel free to shoot them in the comments.
That’s it until next time.
Where do you get inspiration from ? How do you write your posts?
Also, I’m curious, how much time does one discussion post take you?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.