Worth a Try

When I first started this blog, I used to write a new post every four days. As time went by, posting that often became difficult, so I gradually extended the time between posts to a full week. And that’s where I’ve stayed for the past few years, more or less.

Even though it’s much easier to keep up with weekly posts, I have run into a problem. I tend to get what I think is a GREAT idea for my next blog post a few days before I’m actually due to write it. I’ll plan the basic outline and even think of a title. But by the time I actually sit down to write my weekly post, I can’t remember a single thing about the post I intended to write other than I thought it was a really terrific idea.

One of my favorite authors, Andrew Taylor, believes that writers should never write down their story ideas. He believes that if an idea is strong enough, you’ll remember it, whether you want to or not. Maybe he is right, and that great idea I had last Thursday wasn’t really so great after all, since it managed to completely slip my mind by today. Or maybe I just have a truly terrible memory, and therefore am capable of forgetting absolutely everything, regardless of its importance. (Most people who know me would vote for the second theory.) But whatever the reason, I’ve realized that if I’m going to come up with a new post every week, I have to figure out a way to remember the things I actually want to write about.

I tend to resist change, but there comes a time when we have to be willing to set aside the things that don’t work for us, and trying to remember the ideas I get for posts days before I actually want to write them doesn’t work for me. So it’s time for me to admit that, and move on to something that does work. Like, say, writing down my ideas as soon as they come and putting them in a file marked “ideas for blog posts.”

And this is a lesson that goes far beyond blogging. It’s hard to let go of our old ways, even when common sense tells us it’s past time to do so. Sometimes the only way to move forward in life is to shed the habits and beliefs that no longer work for us and be willing to at least try something new. Because often there is a better way, if we can just find the courage to look for it.

I don’t know if my new system of blogging will work or not, because I haven’t tried it yet. (Face it, I could easily forget where I put my idea file.) But I do know that my old way was definitely not working, and that it’s time to try something new. And I also know that if I can keep an open mind and persevere, I’ll find something better eventually.

87 thoughts on “Worth a Try

  1. Different strokes for different folks, as they say, but I can’t imagine not writing down ideas for blog posts. My system is pretty simple. When an idea comes to me, I begin a new draft. It might be nothing more than a title or a link, or it might be an outline or some “thinking points.” Then, I save it. When I’m ready to go back to it, there it is — happily waiting for me in my WordPress draft files.

    Right now, I have two hundred potential posts in draft. Not all of them will survive, of course; about every six months I go through the list, remove the ones that no longer interest me, and decide which ones I want to move to the top of the list for development. It works especially well for poetry. I can start a poem with a phrase or a couple of lines, put it in draft, and then go back from time to time and work it until it’s done. My oldest drafts are about five years old; those stories are more complicated and have required more research, but having them immediately available makes the process easy.

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    • That’s a good system! I used to keep old drafts with Word Press, but when they moved to the blog editor, I couldn’t find them. Now that I can, that’s probably the way to go. Like you, I often just deleted drafts that were no longer relevant, but I sure was glad to see others when I needed them.

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  2. If I come up with a great idea for a Post, I immediately create at least a Post with some notes. It then shows as a draft, and has some notes to guide my thoughts when I decide to write it in detail. It has only failed once when I went into finish it and decided to trash it instead! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Depending on your age, short term memory loss may just be something you are going to be working with in the future. I have to write lots of notes in order to stay on top of the various things I get involved in. My calendar is invaluable, as are many specific files, and I use my phone to remind me of things! Such is life at 73, but one must just accept it and work around it as best as one can. Life goes on!

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    • You’ve got that right, Colin! Sadly, I’ve always had a terrible memory, and it’s just gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. When I was posting more regularly, the pressure to come up with enough ideas made me write down ideas and outlines for future posts. Then when I started posting only once a week or so, I decided that I’d always have enough to write about, and that if I thought of an idea a few days before I was going to post it, I’d just remember it. Ha! That didn’t work out, so it’s back to writing down notes.

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  4. I get it, Ann. I’ve actually learned to use the “note” section on my phone – it’s very handy for my grocery list and also for things I want to remember later on. And it’s likely your phone is nearby you most of the time.
    I understand about things sticking if their meant to. I feel that way about composing music. If I remember the chords for something new, they are the best ones.

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    • That’s a very good idea, Judy, thank you! Because you’re right, I almost always have my phone with me. Even just a sentence or two would trigger what I wanted to write about. And I can see where composing music would be the same way…it’s the things we can’t get out of our heads that we need to express, and I think that’s what Andrew Taylor was talking about. He writes novel (historical fiction) and you need to really be committed to an idea to write several thousand words about it!

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  5. Iโ€™ve never blogged to a schedule. Whenever the heart says write I write. I do often draft up posts that, for whatever reason, never see the light of day but itโ€™s a good way to keep our ideas alive. I think writing notes in general is a good idea to not lose track of those sudden bursts of inspiration. I often get them in the middle of the night! ๐Ÿ˜

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    • Me, too! Either in the middle of the night or while driving, or talking to someone who would be offended if I suddenly said “Wait a minute while I jot something down.” I try to post about once a week, but sometimes it’s a bit less or more, depending on what’s going on in my life. But you’re right, the best way is to simply post when inspiration strikes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Judy! The sad thing is, I’m already on the Do Not Call list, but it doesn’t seem to stop all the calls. Meanwhile, I’m working up the nerve to deal with the phone company. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. While I have the temerity to disagree with Mr Taylor, I have in my rather long, meandering journey through the arid lands realised it is more the moment than the idea that is key to writing a worthwhile post. How do I describe these moments that have hit me with the force of a typhoon as I have hung precariously to a handle suspended from the ceiling of a suburban train even as my meagre physical mass was ground and massaged by the fellow travellers, or struggled to keep my eyes riveted to the tarmac while driving down a highway infested by rogue Formula 1 racers. Worst are the ideas that hit me as I struggle to sit through day long videoconference monstrosities. So, even if I write down quickly the seeming crux of the idea, I find the heart missing when I sit down to pedal the ship further.

    But I do appreciate what you say about embracing new methods in blogging as well as in life. I have been a fan of things novel and adventurous all my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, inspiration usually hits when we can’t really do much with it, and even if we jot the idea down, we don’t always bring the same passion to the subject a few hours, or days, later. I think what Andrew Taylor meant was that if an idea is just consuming you so that you can’t forget about it even if you try, then that is the book you should write. It’s a good idea for novels, but not really so much for blogs, as that’s a whole different type of writing. Good for you for embracing new things! I tend to drag my feet a bit when it comes to change, but often find that the change is for the better.

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  7. I write down EVERY SINGLE THING that I want to remember! The best ideas come after dreams, in the middle of the night and during showers or swimming laps. I write the dream stuff in a notebook by my bed and then try to figure out what the dream means (usually too much ice cream before bed). I also am fond of sticky notes on the bathroom mirror. Anyone who does not have to write stuff down is still a child! You go Ann, and keep sending us your amazing thoughts and insights. Love ya!

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    • Thanks so much, Louise! I never thought of keeping a dream journal, but I can see where that is a great idea! Especially for someone with my memory. But you’re right, often our dreams are a manifestation of issues we’re trying to work out, and therefore worth exploring. I’m also going to start keeping sticky notes in the bathroom….. Love you and miss you!!!!

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  8. I wish I had a system like yours. I myself tend to juggle ideas and let them fight for attention in my mind, only to leave me without any specific subject when it comes time to write. Wishing you all the best with your journey!

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  9. when I get a good idea, and sometimes when I’m on a roll it’s three at a time. … then I write it up as a draft post. The only time I bother to edit is when I publish the draft ๐Ÿ™‚

    But you are so right, we need to let go of what’s not working and develop better coping tools …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I thought it was profound. Because the things we can’t stop thinking about are probably what we need to express the most. The problem with using only that system for blogging (at least for me) is simply that I don’t have enough of those “unforgetable ideas” to create a new post every week. He writes novels, so doesn’t have to worry about that. But as you say, we all have to create our own system that works best for us. Thanks for your kind words!

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  10. The other option is to write the post when you are thinking about it, if you have time, then schedule it to be published when appropriate. I have never used the schedule feature but I know several bloggers who do.

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    • That is a good point, too. Once, years ago, I tried to schedule a post but it didn’t work. That was also my first year of blogging, so it’s a good chance that I didn’t do it right. But if I could figure it out, that’s another good idea and a way to solve my problem. Thank you!

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  11. I, in my 60s, also disagree with Taylor – it could be that my memory is not as nimble as it once was, but I plead heavy reliance on the computer to store the data.

    I write most of my posts in an offline document and only when I’m ready to publish do I open the blog. I have a file called “Blog post ideas”. I also write for the historical society and have a file called “newsletter ideas.” It works for me.

    You might find it works for you, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Maggie! Those are great ideas! Sadly, I no longer have a word processing system on my computer, as Apple has decided I need to pay extra for that. But I do know I can write them on Word Press as a draft, and then either publish them or trash them, according to how I feel about them later. I’m going to try that!

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  12. I have many great post ideas as I lay awake instead of sleeping, paragraphs of prose, poetry lines, etc. Unfortunately, they flee from my mind when I arise and I struggle to recover them from my memory banks. My best cues are from my photos and that is how it must be. Once I get the photos, I outline the post and may actually change the words several times, before hitting Publish. Guess, I am just a visual thinker. Good luck with your new system Ann. Seems just talking about it stirred the interest of many. Cheers. Allan

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    • I honestly think that bloggers who use photos or paintings have an advantage over those of us who concentrate on the writing, because you’re right: the illustrations can easily drive the prose. Sadly, I have no photography or art skills, so any photo I add to my post are just selected from my photo library in the hopes that they will somehow enhance what I’ve already written. And I have the same problem you do with inspiration that strikes at all the wrong times! So I guess writing them down as soon as I can is probably the way to go. Thanks for your input, Allan!

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  13. There are very few people who have been blessed with a photographic memory and they obviously don’t need to take notes. They also have the task to decide what is important in view of the mass of things they remember. For all the rest of the people, myself included, we need to write down the ideas that often mysteriously and suddenly pop up in our creative minds. With just a few keywords on hand, we are able to recreate our ideas to write our next blog post. When the MOMENT to write is not the right one choose another one. After all, you have given yourself a whole week to publish your post, Ann.

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  14. Ugh. Iโ€™m 64 and in good health, but Iโ€™m constantly walking into a room and forgetting why Iโ€™m there. My husband as well, which makes me feel a little better! I remember about ten years ago missing my friendโ€™s birthday lunch. It was on my calendar, but Iโ€™d forgotten to LOOK at my calendar. Time to look for some brain boosting vitamins, I guess!

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    • Don’t be so hard on yourself, Mimi! I think part of the problem is our age, but another part is the constant barrage of information we have to deal with nowadays….it’s no wonder we can’t remember everything. And if it makes you feel any better, I once went to a friend’s birthday dinner. Only I left her card and gift at home, because I forgot the reason we were getting together was for her birthday. I thought that was still a few weeks off, so I deliberately left them at home!

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  15. Oh, Ann. I’ve done what Andrew Taylor suggested. And, at times, it worked. I my playwright years, ideas of a scene would pop up in my head while driving down the freeway. So, I kept a little tape recorder in my pocket. That made it easy. However, now I do have an “idea file” just like you. We do what works for us. Your results show it.

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    • Thank you, Alan! You are always so kind. I do get what Andrew Taylor meant: write about what you HAVE to write about, and you will get your best result. But as a blogger who has to come up with a new idea at least once a week, sometimes I also need to search for an idea. And having a file of ideas for blog posts would really, really help!

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  16. My best ideas always seem to present when I’m arms deep in dirt, or I’m in the forest, collecting firewood, or, roller in hand, and paint up to my elbows. Another one bites the dust. Some stick around in my consciousness long enough to see print. Others go wispy and disappear with the next breeze. I’ve never kept a blogging schedule. Mostly I wait until I have something to say, or until I have a free moment in which to say it. I don’t agonize or edit–the blog is my most immediate form of writing. I give it a quick glance, struggle with the new format to include a photo, and publish. I rarely struggle with topics, because they are either there, or not. As I’m not bound by a timeframe, this sometimes leads to gaps in blogging. My apologies. Consider it a small price, in exchange for immediacy.

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    • Oh, no apologies needed, I think you have a good system! When I posted every three or four days, I was so worried about not having enough to say that I did write some posts ahead of time, just so I would have them. But when I switched to once a week, I usually just wrote about whatever happened to be on my mind at the time I sat down, and that worked too, for a while. But then the pandemic hit, and my husband got his cancer diagnosis, and I found that sometimes a week would come when I had nothing that I really wanted to share on my blog. I was too distracted with my life. And that’s okay, I think I just need to go back to writing down ideas when they come, and then using them when I need to. Life is about nothing if not change, and all we can do is adapt!

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  17. I always think it is fun to try something new. If one way is not working, why not mix it up, and try a different strategy. I do know this…I love your posts because of your honesty and integrity. I love your posts because you let your personality shine through. I always feel like I am at your house and you are talking about a given issue…or maybe, just talking about what is on your mind. However, you come to your writing, it seems to be working like a charm…but, I don’t want to miss out on any of your great ideas! So, whatever you do, keep being you…and I will pour the coffee and listen to the stories that come straight from your heart.

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    • Thank you so much, Linda! I really, really, hope you know what a blessing you are to so many of us bloggers. Your comments are always so encouraging and inspiring, and that is really appreciated by those of us who sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. You are a shining example of what Christianity truly is. And that you for that.

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  18. I was a daily blogger once upon a time. It was fun at first, but then got to be too much. However from that experience I learned to scribble an idea on a scrap of paper then toss the paper into a desk drawer. In other words I captured my idea literally, held them hostage, until I was ready to write about them. I still do this idea hostage thing even though I post maybe once or twice a week. We all find our ways, don’t we?

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    • I love the idea of holding your ideas hostage! But it is all worth it, since you eventually share them with the rest of us. And I agree that we all fine what works for us. I think my mistake was to think that since I am only posting about once a week, I could get by with just writing about whatever is on my mind. But since Covid hit, I’m trying very hard not to just go on and on about how frustrating living under Covid is, so that means I have to figure out a new way to remember and organize my ideas.

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    • I’ve had that happen too, Lorie! Sometimes I’ll make a note of an idea, and even develop it into a draft. But when I go to actually write the post, I find I take that see of an idea and go in an entirely different direction. I think that is what happens when we try to write from the heart, and that’s okay!

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  19. I would go with your idea to write it down the moment it is still clear and present in your memory. If you forget an idea that you did not write down, perhaps it just means that your mind was busy with other stuff. At work, I also summarize things when it is fresh in my memory, and I just finished. And it is much easier if I need to go back and look at it, it is obvious to me what I was doing at the time.

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    • Thanks for saying that my horrible memory is just a sign that my mind is busy with other things! It may or may not be true, but I like that idea and I’m going with that! But seriously, I do see the need to write things down when they occur to us, especially at work. Even for a blog, those little notes can make all the difference!

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  20. I rarely know what I’m going to write about when I sit down to blog. It just comes to me, and I can”t tell you how many blogs I haven’t published because they’re not that great. I felt better about this after listening to a biography about Tom Petty and his writing style. He said he often wrote songs and then just decided to trash them. Amazing how everyone’s creative process is so different!

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  21. Andrew Taylor must be young. Lol. My brain is a sieve, Ann. I write down post ideas and book ideas and scene ideas, and dialog ideas. I often forget “where” I wrote them down… but I do write them down. Go for it, Ann. ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • Ha! I can relate! Even when I do make lists, I usually manage to lose them, or leave them behind when I go to the store. My guess is I’m going to need LOTS of idea folders, so I can always lay hands on at least one of them….

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  22. Your post gets down to the nuts and bolts of writing and blogging in general. I have the exact same issues and it often keeps me from getting anything posted at all. I’d be really interested to know if you think the process of saving ideas or bits and pieces works for you. Please let us know! Thanks Ann.

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  23. A nice post Ann.
    I take photos almost everyday but I don’t publish them right away. I think I am stubborn but if I don’t feel passion about something I can’t post. The reason I get late for my submission to various challenges these days. I don’t feel like doing it.

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    • I think that’s perfectly fine! I don’t ever want to publish something just for the sake of doing it, so only sharing what we’re passionate about makes sense. I know that certain subjects will be more popular with my readers, but I still tend to write about whatever is in my heart regardless. And when my life gets really busy, I do post less just because I don’t feel like blogging either.

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  24. Ann, I grew up playing tennis, and one of the things I learned early on was this: if something’s working, you don’t need to fix it, but if not, then try anything to make it work. I’m like Linda (above) — as soon as I get an idea for a post, I hit the Add New button and write as much as I can, then hit Save. Sometimes, later, the idea will need to be trashed, but if I still consider it viable, I can update to my heart’s content. It’s a bit more challenging with that stupid Block Editor now, but I’ve found that you can use the Classic Editor from the saved posts (win win!!)

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    • Honestly, I don’t know of anyone who actually likes the block editor, it seems that some people just dislike it more than others. That being said, your idea of saving post ideas as drafts is a good one. I did that for awhile, but drifted away from it at some point. But I think that might work well for me, at least when I get an idea when I’m at home. Thanks for sharing…one of the things I love best about blogging is that if I write about a problem, people share solutions that work for them. That’s incredibly helpful!

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  25. I think it’s a great idea for you to post only when you can. Like you, I posted every four or so days. Now due to life situations, I can’t post as much. Don’t overstress yourself with posting. You can do only do so much. Just do what you can.
    Good Luck

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    • Thank you! I do think that blogging is supposed to be fun, and when we worry too much about schedules, etc., that takes the fun right out of it. I hope you post when you want to, and don’t worry about it when you don’t!

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  26. One of my favorite questions to ask myself that helps me get real with myself is, “How is this working for you?” It helps be face the reality that what I am doing isn’t working and it is worth trying something new.
    I relate to the forgetting part.
    My thoughts about writing, (even thought you didn’t ask for advice) Write when you are inspired about what inspires you. No one else can say it your way.
    Take care, Ann.

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  27. Not writing down my ideas (or grocery lists for that matter) is definitely not an option for me!! And I’m absolutely sure it’s not the ideas’ fault if I forget them but my own, so that theory by Andrew Taylor wouldn’t work for me I’m afraid.
    Like you I tend to resist change quite a lot, and I think this has gotten worse over the years. Trying out new stuff, even if it’s something as small as a new filing system, makes me quite irritable. The only times I love trying out new stuff is in the creative sector like when I try out a new painting technique or a different crochet pattern. ๐Ÿ˜

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