This is a guest post by Katheryn Rivas.
Rebecca Chelsey’s recent post on ways to spark our creativity got me thinking about the next step: how to take that creativity and turn it into meaningful sentences on the page. In other words, what we do with that spark of inspiration will determine the success or setbacks we face when we blog.
I’m a firm believer in the importance of pre-writing as a great way to take advantage of our inspiration. Pre-writing helps us bloggers to get down onto paper the ideas in our head. It helps us use language to explain our ideas. Through pre-writing, we can figure out exactly what it is we are trying to say. We can think of pre-writing as the laboratory in which we can test out and refine our ideas before we share them with an audience.
What follows, then, are a few of my favorite pre-writing exercises that help me figure out what exactly I’m trying to say. I hope they are useful to you as well, and if you can think of others, please share them in the comments section.
Perhaps the most basic of all the pre-writing strategies, brainstorming is a good way to quickly populate a list of ideas related to your main concept or subject matter. While it won’t generate solid and well-written content, it will give you a list of ideas that you can go on to further elaborate upon.
Make an Outline
Outlining is a great way to organize our thoughts. For example, if we have a series of loosely related ideas, we can use an outline format to help us figure out how the exact relationships between them. One idea might be subordinate to another. One idea might cause the existence of another. The hierarchy of an outline allows you to figure out those relationships and then create the order in which you think you should explain those ideas to readers of your post. Once you fill in the parts of the outline, it’s just a simple matter of applying that to a post with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Envision Your Ideas
This method of pre-writing asks you to envision your ideas through idea-mapping or web-mapping. It’s a great form of pre-writing if you have a large list of ideas, but are not sure at all of how they are related. When you can sketch them out on a big piece of paper and form a map between them, then you’ll better be able to see which idea clusters are more important or need to be explicated more thoroughly than the others. Although this won’t help you get some strong sentences down for your post, it will help you understand the nature of the subject matter in a more situational way.
Profile Your Audience
If you have a good grasp of the idea you’d like to turn into a post but are unsure of how to write it for your audience, you should try to write a profile of your audience in relation to the subject matter of your post. When you write the profile, try to ask yourself questions about how you think the audience would respond to your post, especially an audience that is at first resistant or skeptical to your content.
For example, if they might disagree with your main point, think of ways you could encourage them to lower their guard. Or, if they might not at first understand your content, think of ways to make it accessible to them. You can use this profile to help you write your way into the post.