Wit and wisdom for wordsmiths

How to Find Killer Blog Post Ideas – and Why They Matter

FindIdeas How to Find Killer Blog Post Ideas   and Why They Matter

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The other day a friend of mine told me his English professor father refused to go to a certain restaurant because the menu used “it’s” for “its.”

One of my favorite bloggers objects to using “impact” for “affect” on the grounds that “only two things can be ‘impacted’ – wisdom teeth and assholes.”

Which proves, I guess, that English lovers can be as obsessive as anyone else.

Good Writing Doesn’t Equal Good Grammar

But here’s the thing: good blog posts, like all good writing, are not about perfect grammar. They’re about getting people engaged and excited.  And getting people engaged and excited means blogging about ideas that get you engaged and excited.

Two days ago I published the 50th post on this blog, about whether scientists are getting an F in communicating. I didn’t notice I’d passed a milestone until I started to write this post.

The reason, of course, is that I was having such a good time I didn’t look at the WordPress Dashboard.

I have two objectives with this blog.

  • One is to help scientists who are specialists in their fields to communicate with the lay public either by coaching them or writing for them.
  • The other is helping science writers who interpret what’s going on in science for general audiences, again either as writer or coach.

To meet those objectives, I need a constant stream of new ideas — preferably provocative ones.

Where Do The Ideas Come From?

Where do ideas for new posts come from?

For me, they originate with curiosity.  If I’m not curious about enough by a subject to want to know more about it,  there’s not much chance you will be.

So I’m an obsessive reader, online and off.

I read books like Rebecca Skloot’s  “The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks.

Essays like Pulitzer Prize winning science writer Jon Franklin’s “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster” , as gripping as any fiction.

I subscribe to Discover magazine’s 80 beats blog.

I read MIT Technology Review and Science News .

I follow top science writers like Ed Yong, Carl Zimmer Jonah Lehrer,  and  David Dobbs on Twitter — and follow their links to see what they’re reading.

Choosing Your Territory

Science covers a lot of territory, some of which interests me more than others. I’m fascinated by medicine, evolution, paleo-anthropology and the human brain.  The galaxy and the cosmos, not so much.

Fortunately, as a science writer I can focus on whatever interests me most.  But it wouldn’t much matter which territory I chose; they’re all wide open to discovery.

On an all-interview website called “Big Think,” MIT linguist Noam Chomsky made the point that in the sciences “all the big questions are open.”

The job of the science writer, in blogs, articles, or any other medium, is to convey the excitement of those big open questions to people who might never have known to ask them – much less cared what the answers could mean.

What could be more fun for a writer than that?

If you’re a blogger, where do you find your ideas? If you’re a blog reader, what makes  you read and subscribe to a blog? Do you care more about the subject or the writing?

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2 Responses to How to Find Killer Blog Post Ideas – and Why They Matter

  1. Jean Gogolin says:

    Glad you liked it, Deborah.

  2. Great post! Thank so much — and thanks for the links!

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