How to organise too many writing ideas

weekend writing

The problem with not writing (and publishing) for some time is the enormous backlog of ideas to sort through, create some order and work out a way to start again. This post is for those who would like to start blogging, and those who like me, haven’t blogged for a while.

When first starting a blog, it’s a good idea to have a bank of topics and post ideas (about 10) to work with. Make a list.

Or for those wanting to pick up some lost momentum or get back into the swing of blogging, search, collect, collate the scraps of paper, post its or other notes where you’ve made about potential ideas but haven’t quite got round to yet. I’ve jotted down work experiences in a notebook, have attended events such as the LISRA webinar, read articles as part of project research, etc. Too many ideas.

The blog post ideas and workflow spreadsheet

The approach I took to solving this problem is a mix between a blogging workflow spreadsheet I’ve recently picked up and the ‘cab rank’ which I used with my NLS6 sub-committee about three to four years ago.

organise writing ideas

First, add all ideas under the second part of the spreadsheet (date added, status, title/idea, etc). Fill in the date, the title/idea and any notes that come with that idea. Then, once you can see all your ideas in the one spot, remove or place on the back burner the ideas that are no longer timely. Add categories (I really need to re-jig mine).

Finally, pick where you’d like to begin. Choose five to six post ideas that you think you can run with right now and over the next month or so. Cut and paste these to the ‘cab rank’ at the top, under ‘Upcoming’.

The purpose of the ‘cab rank’ is to not limit or stall your writing process by forcing what you’ll write about next. If you’re like me, there are times when you’d have good intentions or think for certain what post comes next, and then when you sit down to write it, you’re not ‘feeling it’. I might gravitate towards another idea because it’s where my head’s at. So having a ‘cab rank’ ready narrows down the choices to give focus but is still flexible enough to go with your mood and what you’re thinking about in the moment you begin writing.

The blog post ideas spreadsheet and ‘cab rank’ will work well for those starting out, as having a bank of ideas ready to go you can generate momentum. And believe me, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll see that list grow and how you develop the habit of finding a blog post idea in experiences, day-to-day work, what you read and attend. Also, you can use the topics and categories you’ve put against each idea as navigation for your new blog. 🙂

On a side note, a blog is a narrative. In little snippets, you’re telling a story. While some posts will go off this track, others will flow on quite nicely from each other. So I’ve included a column called ‘What’s next?’ to ask myself ‘What’s the next step here?’ I might just think of another post idea!

The spreadsheet also acts as a workflow tracker, so the thinking is taken out of the writing process and you go about each post in a consistent way. I’ve included steps such as draft, in WordPress, proofreading, published, (shared on) Twitter, etc. You may like to adjust these to suit your own workflow and blog set up. When I’ve published a post, I don’t delete it from the spreadsheet. I paste the post idea to the bottom of the spreadsheet so I can look back at my progress (even though I could just do this in WordPress).

Now, get writing!

Having organised all your ideas, now its time to set aside a regular time to write and/or set some goals. This step is often a difficult one but one can draft on the train, during lunch or a TV show on the couch, in a doctor’s waiting room….there is time to write. 15 minutes here and there is all that’s really needed.

How do you organise your writing ideas? Where are the places you’ve found to write?

 

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  1. Thank you for sharing this – a logical practical solution for creative block.

    1. No worries, Helen. I’ve also found Trello to be a useful tool for organising ideas and tracking a workflow, though I’m liking the spreadsheet approach at the moment. Might be worth exploring 🙂

  2. Thanks, will try that too.

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