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May 20, 2008

How To Plan A Month’s Worth Of Posts In 30 Minutes Flat

Working to a monthly theme helps me to plan ahead – and planning ahead helps me to write with a greater sense of purpose.

I tried a new planning technique this month, using one of Chris Garrett’s productive blogging tips: using a mind map to generate ideas and topics for posts.  His suggestion was to brain-storm or mind map around the focus of your blog (starting with a circle in the middle, and working outwards).  I applied this to the theme of writing with purpose and started to doodle ideas.

Within 30  minutes (tops) I had 18 posts mapped out – more than enough for the month ahead, given that I don’t want to blog every day, and other things are bound to pop up as I go along.

I then ran through the list of topics and made some notes about the sort of posts they might turn into.  I haven’t done this before but it’s a natural extension of writing with a greater sense of purpose, and tying my blog writing more tightly into my coaching and business purpose (one of the key messages to come out of SobCon08).

My overall purpose is to help people realise the power of their words.  To convey my belief that our words count.

But I realised as I did this exercise that there are sub-plots going on in terms of my blog writing purpose:

  • To use a variety of methods to keep readers engaged and interested
  • To establish myself as a credible, authority blogger
  • To generate material that I can use for some books I’m working on
  • To create some audio content that I can transfer to courses I’m setting up
  • To have some posts that I can write quickly, without too much time and effort

Getting clear on those sub-plots helped me to plan the month ahead – working out what kind of material I was going to produce and why; how much time I was willing to put into it (or not) and why; how to discount some things that looked like ‘good ideas’ because they don’t fit into the bigger picture of what I’m trying to do.

I’m not claiming to have cracked it, but this is the most purposeful approach to planning the month ahead that I’ve tried so far.  I’ll let you know how it pans out, but meantime I thought you might be interested to see the results of the mind-mapping exercise:

The code at the bottom was how I mapped out the type of posts:

*material with a  shelf life – pillar content, or material to use in courses or books

W writing tips

A audio material

P popular and linking out – popular might be the wrong word here! I was thinking of posts that are more explicitly linked to blogging, that link to other bloggers and attract people back here

check: short and easy to write ( I think the "check" signals I want and need some more of them!)


What other methods could I use to plan my writing? Have you got any tried and tested techniques that have worked for you?

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

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Comments

Joanna, you are right about doing it on paper for bigger items. I was thinking of how I used it for coalescing the elements of a single news story or column in my head between the interview and the writing. Before I started my blog, I had tons of ideas swirling around in my mind and this type of exercise helped capture them into more usable forms.

I was taught this process relies on first letting the mind relax and flow with right-brain creativity as you quickly write down ideas that will naturally pop into your head. After a while, the left brain wants to get into the act and starts to make you see patterns in the form of more connectivity between ideas and more solid structure to how they can be applied.

Is this how mind mapping works for you?

Rick, it's a very simple and easy technique to use and I think you might find it quite creative - it'll build on the work you've already been doing I know to clarify your ideas and sense of purpose in your blog (and beyond!)

I look forward to seeing where it takes you :-)

Joanna

Hi Space Age Sage, I guess my answer is 'kinda' - it probably happens more quickly and subconsciously than a deliberate right / left split of activities... but I would normally start with a mind map and then use it to construct an ordered list

One of the things I like about mind maps is that it gets everything down and out of my head... then I can relax about the thoughts, knowing they're somewhere on paper. Hope that makes sense!

Joanna

Yes, it does. Thanks!

Great idea - I'll try it with one of my blogs today. I have a cool mind mapping software program that I've used with other projects. "Freemind" . . .

Hi Linda Jo

Thanks for stopping by :-) It's a nice simple idea isn't it? That's why I like it so, and why it works so quickly for me.

Hope you have fun generating results for your own blogs!

Joanna

Excellent article! I got some really useful tips that I will use.I write a blog post almost every day, and it get´s more difficult as time goes by. By planning ahead the "theme" for the month it will get a lot easier.

Hi Joanna,

What a great idea this is. I could also do with some advanced planning so this method will come handy for a test. I can see it would work because I often use mind maps to brainstorm but have never even though about using them for blog posts.

Duh. Thanks so much for helping my aging brain get into the right checkout line. :-)

That's one of the greatest ideas about blogging I've ever read. Thanks!

Tom, glad you found the article of interest. It's a good way to open up new possibilities - and contain our material within what's feasible to get written in a month.

Monika - I'm sure your brain is doing just fine :-) But it's good to share ideas, tips and suggestions to help each other along the way. Glad you enjoyed this one.

Friend from Browse Design: glad you found this of value.

Thanks all for stopping by

Joanna

Hi Joanna,

Found you today via Chris Guillebeau in this post: http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/how-to-retire-the-day-after-tomorrow/#more-250

Great piece that gave my husband and I - blogging podcasters with a pending BlogTalkRadio show - a jolt of excitement as we saw in a second how we could not only 'map' out our blog/podcast topics but tie in our radio show topics as well.

Hi Lissa

I'm glad you found me! Couldn't follow how the link pointed here, but I'm glad it brought you here anyway.

It's v. satisfying isn't it when you can see how it all maps together... Good luck with the forthcoming show.

Joanna

Jonna, this is a great discussion and one filled with ideas that will assist me in becoming a more productive leader. I'm breaking out the pen and paper now.

All the best

Ron

Hi Ron

I'm glad you found it of value. To my mind there's nothing like pen & paper to help us be both imaginative and productive...

Joanna

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