Spark Naked

You can’t start a fire, you can’t start a fire without a spark…

At times we grope and we strain against hope in “finding something to write about.”

That link leads to a Google search, which turns up more than a quarter of a billion entries.

You could read 100 of those links a day, every day, for the next 6,931 years, and still have 18,500 links left unread.

That’s a lot of reading to do, in order to find an inspiration.

Why not go outside and go for a walk?

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The Spark Still Shines

Want to know where I get inspirations? Let me strip them bare.

I get them from random moments.

I get them from juxtapositions.

I get them from my community.

I get them from my friends. Many times over.

I get them from thinking big thoughts. And obsessing over little ones.

I get them from suspicion. And more suspicion.

I get them from watching the news, with a critical eye. Often.

I get them from college classes.

I get them from working in the yard, and fixing things,and from cleaning my teeth.

Sometimes, I learn from what others are doing.

Sometimes, I sneak in a tribute in the form of a lesson.

Sometimes, I talk about process.

Sometimes, I get them from blogs and tweets.

Reflected In Another Pair of Eyes

There are a lot of links up there. I think only one of them goes back past September of this year.

That’s a lot of stuff. Some of it, I didn’t even remember I had written.

And notice that only rarely are those fires sparked by things other people have written.

This will be an exception. Chris Brogan wrote about “Cranking Out Content.” Apparently, it’s an issue for many people. How does one find the things to write about to draw the audience one desires?

Chris writes:

Topic ideas usually come up from thinking of what will be most useful to your readers and audience. For instance, my audience is heavily comprised of marketers and small business entrepreneurs, as well as a spattering of large business functionaries who long for the days when they are master of their domain. With that in mind, I try to write about things that will help you improve your day. This post, for instance, should be helpful to your blogging effort.

Other times, topics come from a picture you’ve taken, or a sign you see, or something you’ve read in a book or another person’s blog. If you’re not reading books and blogs, then there’s no wonder you’re having trouble finding topics. Most ideas don’t come from a vacuum.

Um, no, and yes, and what?

Digging Deeper Into Inspiration

Topic ideas usually come up from thinking of what will be most useful to your readers and audience.

Not exactly. I feel for the people who operate under an editorial calendar, and I know what that’s like. But if you’re interested in delivering quality and value, then you can’t force yourself to have an epiphany about “Subject X.” You either have them, or you don’t. Straining to write about something you don’t have a passion for is fruitless.

Other times, topics come from a picture you’ve taken, or a sign you see,

This is the part of his post I love. I wish he’d go through his posts and highlight from where those inspirations flow.

If you’re not reading books and blogs, then there’s no wonder you’re having trouble finding topics.

I would say that if you’re reading too many books and blogs, it’s no wonder you can’t find anything to write about!

Closer to the Heart

Here’s what it comes down to.

If you write online, your content will be indexed.

If people find it interesting, they’ll come back.

If they really find it interesting, they’ll subscribe. And they’ll share it. And they’ll comment.

And if you happen to go a week or two without writing anything, that’s okay. They’ll still be there when you post again.

My quibble with Chris isn’t in his advice. I think he should have gone further in giving examples, but he’s a busy guy.

My quibble with Chris is that he’s feeding a beast that is already clogging the internet with useless, passionless pieces of SEO foam.

Telling people how to fill their blogs when they don’t have anything to say — when they are not moved by a muse — is worse than pointless.

Topic ideas usually come up from thinking of what will be most useful to your readers and audience.

If that is your standard, then you’re producing a commodity. If your goal is to produce a commodity, there’s a good chance you can (and should) outsource that production to someone who is better at it than you are.

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Comments

  1. What a great post to start my Sunday reading, Ike. Thank you.
    I admire the way Chris is able to churn out stuff. But I think you hit the nail on the head with this:
    “Telling people how to fill their blogs when they don’t have anything to say — when they are not moved by a muse — is worse than pointless.”
    Even though I have not been blogging very long, I know that when I’m really moved by something, those are the best posts. Those are the ones that people share, comment on, etc. And invariably, I’ve gone through an internal process of questioning myself: will they like it? what if someone flames me on it? But I can’t quiet the little voice, so I have to get it out.
    Listening to one’s readers is important, of course. But it’s more important to listen to one’s self.

Trackbacks

  1. Ike Pigott says:

    Spark Naked (strip away your inspirations – are you proud of where ideas start?) | http://ike4.me/o157

  2. RT @ikepigott Spark Naked (strip away your inspirations – are you proud of where ideas start?) | http://ike4.me/o157 Great idea/great blog!

  3. RT @ikepigott: Spark Naked (strip away your inspirations – are you proud of where ideas start?) | http://ike4.me/o157

  4. Ike Pigott says:

    @RedheadWriting – Have you ever examined what sparks your recent posts? http://ike4.me/o157r

  5. Gyula Kovacs says:

    Reading: Spark Naked – You can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark At times we grope and we strai… http://ht.ly/19GOw5

  6. A Clearing says:

    Great blog. RT @dileeshus: Occam's RazR – Spark Naked http://bit.ly/cS62lM <= it's actually a post about where/how to find #inspiration

  7. How do you get inspired to write? Two takes from two smart dudes: @ikepigott http://is.gd/gwJJD and @chrisbrogan http://is.gd/gwJS5

  8. cdorobek says:

    RT: “@cheeky_geeky: How do you get inspired to write? Two takes @ikepigott http://is.gd/gwJJD and @chrisbrogan http://is.gd/gwJS5

  9. […] I know we all get stuck for ideas. Ike Pigott wrote a terrific post recently on writing and inspiration, and I strongly suggest you check it […]