Wrangling Those Blog Post Ideas

I Miss Oklahoma, ink on paper, 2009 by Sarah Atlee. Some rights reserved. I Miss Oklahoma, ink on paper, 2009 by Sarah Atlee. Some rights reserved.

I'm learning in the Blog Triage course that ideas beget other ideas. How to keep track of them all?

Following is a cross-section of my own blog-writing process.

Ideas are slippery. Capture them.

If I get an idea for a post and I'm not at the computer, I write it down in in my Hiptser PDA. Then I say to myself, "Captured - huzzah!"

Since my Hipster is a series of to-do lists, incomplete tasks stay on top until done. Post ideas stay on top until I store them in the Blog directory on my flash drive, which I carry everywhere.

Ideas want to wander. Park them.

At the computer, I open a new file in a plain-text editor (NoteTab or TextWrangler) and type in one or two sentences describing the idea. Example: "Flat Stanley, cheap markers."

I save the file with the date in ISO 8601 format. Example: "20120501 flat stanley cheap markers.txt"

Because computer operating systems like to sort files alphabetically by default, this date format automatically keeps files in chronological order. Handy.

In a web browser window, I open all the web pages that relate to my post in separate tabs. Oh, how I love tabbed browsing! Each url gets copied and pasted at the bottom of my plain text document. This is just to park them until I turn them into links.

Maybe this won't turn into a post today. I move the plain text document into a subfolder on my flash drive called "unpublished." It's a great place to go back and browse when I'm looking for new content for my blog.

Now, to the WordPress dashboard. I create a new post, put ONLY the title in, and save it as a draft. It is very important that I do not fiddle around with any of the shiny WordPress buttons at this time.

Ideas want to be polished.

Back in NoteTab, I finish composing my post.

Using the bits of html code that I know, I put all the link URLs into place.

I run through my preflight checklist, checking all links, spelling and grammar, and taste-testing for maximum zestiness.

I copy and paste the whole text into WordPress. I save the draft again (!) and preview it to check my links again (!).

Then, and only then, do I click "Publish."

Last step: eat some chocolate and go to bed.

Are you having trouble deciding what to write, or how to write it?

Keep your eyes peeled for Alyson Stanfield's next Blog Triage workshop.