Friday, August 05, 2005


Back when I used to be an assistant editor of a local free weekly newspaper, I always surprised my senior editor with how many months in advance I would plan my article series. This urge to plan helped me when I published my own free monthly magazine, Chaos Review (defunct since 1995). On the other hand, planning is something I was not doing for my 7 (and counting) blogs, and it shows in the ramblings of some of my recent postings. Keep this up and it spells the end of a blog. But as of a few days ago, I've let old habits kick in and started sketching out ideas for near-future blogs. Of course, it helps that I am currently working on 3 books on RSS (marketing, developing, and metrics). [Shameless plug: the book on RSS Metrics is Rok Hrastnik's baby, he of rssdiary.MarketingStudies.net fame; I am co-authoring this book with him. If you are looking for a great book on how RSS can help you as an Internet publisher and/or netrepreneur, check out his comphrensive, acclaimed e-book, "Unleashing the Marketing and Publishing Power of RSS", available at his web site.]

Now while writing a book forces you to organize by coming up with a table of contents, you can apply the same idea to your blogs. Use the technique of mindmapping(R) to help you. (You may be tempted to use mapping software, but I recommend pencil and paper at first. There's actually something about the tactile stimulation of a pen or pencil against the palm of your hand that activates creativity.) Start with a single word or phrase to represent your blog's topic, then draw a circle around it:

This is called the "primary node" or "root node" of the map. Now you want to add the 1st level of sub-topics to your map. In a radial pattern around the primary node, add one "child node" for each topic that you want to write about (or possibly just the titles of the blogs if you're not sure what they'll be about just yet). These are called secondary nodes:

[Note: I've used FreeMind, a free Java app, to draw the above maps. This program, as far as I can tell, does not allow child nodes to be placed radially around the main node. You will have to do this yourself.]

Notice that the secondary nodes are "children" nodes of the root, and that they are drawn in a different shape. The reason for this is simply to visually differentiate between topic levels. (You can use any shape you want, including no shape.) For blogs with complex levels of topics and sub-topics, your map will have many layers of branches.

Use a map both for organizing your thoughts and to decide what to write about in your next posting. This mapping technique, if you approach it properly (i.e., with pencil/pen and paper, using different shapes for each level) helps you brainstorm. I have been using mapping techniques with great success for nearly 20 years (and teaching it for almost as long), but I do go for long-periods without using them. Like any technique, you have to discipline yourself to use it. It's simply a tool for helping you organize your thoughts.

If you plan to write frequent blog posts or are planning more than one related blog, organizing your topics is of utmost importance, whether you do it in your head or on paper. My guess is that very few of us can do it in our minds. The problem in my case, and no doubt for many of you, is not a lack of material to write about. It's not knowing what to write about next because of the jumble of ideas in my mind. I'm repeating myself, but a road plan/map for each blog is a necessity for all but the most experienced of writers (unless you are just blogging about some daily musings or a diary, where you write about whatever events you've just experienced). Road-planning serves to focus your mind to the topics you have in mind. Once you've organized the clutter of ideas, you will find it easier to come up with future ideas - some of which you may need to start researching now. Not organizing means lost time, especially when you suddenly realize that you don't know enough about the topic you want to write about next.

(c) Copyright 2005, Raj Kumar Dash, http://blogspinner.blogspot.com

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BlogSpinner-X serves two primary purposes. Firstly, it houses the original version of my Blogspinner blog, and contains the full-text of my older entries. Secondly, the more recent entries are excerpts of the full-text entries posted over on Blogspinner V2.0. In other words, the "X" stands for "eXcerpt".

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I'm a geek/ philosopher/ composer/ artist/ cook/ web programmer/ consultant/ photographer/ blah-blah-blah who is also a published writer and author. This is one of several blogs that I write.

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