What do you do, as a blogger, when you feel dry for content?
I was asking myself this question. A little while ago, I began a weekly posting schedule for myself on my blog. I had a great first few weeks. I posted on Thursdays, as per scheduled. I uploaded multiple pics on Instagram. I attached numerous hashtags.
And that’s when the quitter in me pushes to the front of the line, calling out, “Alright, that’s enough! We’ve done quite enough now. We deserve a rest. We are tired. It’s time to relax. We have drummed up plenty of interest from the blogging community. We can hang out and enjoy our popularity.”
I must confess: it felt so good to entertain these thoughts. I got to stroke my ego, and slack on my chores. I marveled at the magnificent house I built – when it was only just framed out – and pushed a couch into the open-air living room to take a nap.
But this blogging business is about building something: something great and connected and enduring. This is about being a presence in the community of voices that offer help and hope and connection – through stories. This is about showing up around the campfire for all of you.
Which means, this is not about me.
Which also means, I have work to do. You do too. We are in this for each other. I need you words to pull me out with your words and remind me of Christ’s redemption for my pitiful, quitting self.
So, what do I do when I feel dry for content? My own brain factory only churns out a set number of ideas a day. So, instead of beating up the machinery within the factory, I turned around. I looked out the door. And I began to notice things. I began to gather content for my craft, the raw material, the clay from which to sculpt masterpieces or play-doh spaghetti. It all takes gathering. Which for our craft of writing, is the practice of noticing.
I’ve head that good noticing makes great writing.
When my brain is dry, it’s time to feed it nourishment. It’s time to serve up appetizers of details, entrees of perspective, and aperitifs of other peoples’ unique observations. It’s time to stock the pond. It’s time to gather wild herbs. it’s time to pour that second cup of coffee so that my eyes can draw open from their squints. It’s time to fill so that I can pour. There is enough fodder around us to feed good material to whatever blogging niche we are in. We simply must notice. I’ll make it personal, to convince myself that I am right: there is enough fodder around me to feed good material to me about hope, help, and God’s good grace, for Mom. There, I said it. It doesn’t have to be a fantastically developed idea yet, or ever, just things around me that are noteworthy. Now let’s notice…
My noticing kick, thus far:
The wind tosses the tender tips of my jasmine vine, like my daughter’s hair from the open car window.
Everywhere I look from my perch on the front porch bench, shows signs of a family dwelling here: faded blue chalk lines on the cement in the walkway. Wine-colored rain boots drying atop a rack of wire shelving. Our moving dolly and a rectangular frame on casters propped against the railing. Two (why do we have two?) vacuum cleaners standing guard at either end of the porch. A turquoise child’s lawn chair scooted backwards against the side railing, presumably for little feet to stand tall enough for little hand to grasp the top railing. A potted rose bush beside the steps, doubling in size from the spring sun. An orange 5-gallon bucket for firewood. A galvanized aluminum ash bucket. A faded yellow ladder leaning against the house, with a “Made in the USA” sticker peeling off the second-highest rung. A sparkly pink pair of sunglasses with the lenses popped out, lying upside-down.
This is the practice of noticing. It may not make it into any meaningful blog post, but it will get my brain into the mode of noticing more and more of the world, the details, and the connections therein. It’s like after I do sit-ups (that is, WHEN I do sit ups), my belly feels tighter for the rest of that day. The muscles were in practice.
It’s time to gather tools to help us do our jobs. And if you’re a blogger like me, the post schedules are helpful, but if we don’t stock our ponds, we will just be filling boring quotas. Nobody wants to read boring quotas. If we have fun noticing and writing, people will have fun reading.