Already Out Of Ideas?


For a whole lot of people who made daily/weekly/regular blogging part of their New Year’s resolutions yesterday, many of them are going to be scratching their heads already, struggling to come up with ideas to write about.

And, yes, I am one of those people.

Here are three resources to use for blogging inspiration:

  1. The Daily Post @ The good folks at Automattic, which is the company behind, are heavily invested in getting you to publish on their platform. The first step to you publish on their platform is to get you creating content! What better way to get you creating content than to give you daily suggestions for posts?
  2. Plinky. Formerly a standalone site, now part of the Automattic family, Plinky is another source of suggestions. They operate differently from The Daily Post, in that the Plinky model is to provide you with prompts that can be responded to directly within Plinky. That being said, you can use the Plinky prompts as inspiration for a blog post in lieu of a Plinky answer.
  3. No One Cares What You Had For Lunch. Or any other number of books that have been written to form the cottage industry about bloging.

Or you can do what I just did, which is transform your lack of ideas into a post about how you’re out of ideas. How meta of me.

The First 100 Pages

From a recent Plinky prompt:

Do you feel obligated to finish all books you start reading?

I have a rule of thumb when it comes to the books I start reading.  If I get through the first 100 pages, then I have to finish.  I’m pot-committed after 100 pages.

Only problem with this is the Kindle (device or app), since not all books that I have through Amazon are sporting page numbers.

A Tradition Unlike Any Other One Shining Moment

Today’s Plinky prompt is:

What major sporting event do you get most excited about?

That’s a pretty easy answer for me… whichever championship one of my teams is in!

In the past decade alone, my teams have won six championships, so I’m a bit spoiled in this area.  Three Super Bowl wins by the New England Patriots (2002, 2004, 2005); two World Series championships by the Boston Red Sox (2004 and 2007); and one NBA championship by the Boston Celtics (2008).

Each of those championships is special to me, and I savor all of those wins.  They were exciting moments, and the runs up until those clinching wins were just as thrilling.


The losses are just as memorable.  When the Red Sox lost the ALCS in Game 7 in 2003, I was distraught when Aaron Boone hit a home run off of Tim Wakefield.  In 2008, I was crestfallen when David Price was throwing fireballs past Jason Varitek.  I still don’t understand how the Patriots lost the Super Bowl in 2008, when Rodney Harrison was mauling David Tyree and the ball somehow stuck to Tyree’s helmet, after Eli Manning  incomprehensibly escaped Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, Adalius Thomas, and Jarvis Green.  Last year, in 2010, with six minutes left, I was positive that the Celtics were about to capture championship #18, even with Kendrick Perkins out for the rest of the game — no way would Ron Artest hit that shot!

Side Note: That night, after the Celtics game was over, I had my first date with April. I’ll savor that more than any championship!

If my team is not directly involved, nothing beats the clinching game in the Stanley Cup Finals.  Jim Nantz might say that the Masters championship is “a tradition unlike any other“, and some people may prefer the March Madness “one shining moment” montage, but for my money, let me watch the Stanley Cup get lifted by the captain of an NHL team.  And then hand it off to the veteran on the team who hasn’t won it before.  My eyes were definitely glistening when Ray Bourque finally raised the Stanley Cup in 2001, even if he was wearing a Colorado Avalanche jersey instead of the yellow-and-black spoked B of the Bruins.


The girl who taught me what 'intangible' means.

There was a Plinky prompt the other day:

Name something intangible that you never want to lose.

For me, it was how I learned the definition of intangible — Kitty Pryde of the Uncanny X-Men.

As a kid, I discovered a love for comic books.  First it was comics that my father would buy for me from the newstand racks, usually Superman, who was a favorite of his from his own childhood.  I remember that I had maybe 25 comics that I’d read over and over and over as a kid, most of which I still have stashed away in spite of their poor condition… covers ripped or missing altogether, water damage, creases.

The condition of these books makes me cringe, but it also shows how inseparable they were from me.  Wherever I went as a kid, my comics were tagging along.  Anytime we got into the car to drive anywhere, my nose was buried in a comic book, or some other “traditional” book.  I read, and read, and read…

Unlike the “traditional” books, my comic books used bigger words than my grade level, helping me expand my vocabulary.  For instance, what book was school encouraging me to read that would teach me the word “intangible”?

Some of them explored more adult themes than good old Encyclopedia Brown or the Hardy Boys — Peter Parker was struggling with love and money; the X-Men were fighting against intolerance; Iron Man was an alcoholic.

My love for comics increased exponentially when I was away at summer camp when I was 10 or 11, and a fellow camper gave me his copy of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe trade paperback, issue #3.  There were so many more characters than I knew existed!  There was so much technical detail in these handbooks!  Here was how strong The Hulk was compared to Hercules.  Here was how Iceman’s powers worked compared to the Human Torch’s powers.  Why would the Invisible Woman’s costume also go invisible?  How many different kinds of arrows did Hawkeye have in his quiver?  Heck, even Howard the Duck was in it!

The one that got me hooked.

When I got back from summer camp that year, I started buying comics on a regular basis, truly collecting for the first time.  I set up my first pull list at Newbury Comics, back when they actually cared about selling comics.  Once I was old enough to get a job, my paychecks went to two things — comics, and saving for a car for when I would turn 16.  It’s not like I was getting girls!

I put my comic book collecting on hold  in 1993 when I went off to college.  In 2000, I was re-introduced to comics, and started collecting again in earnest.  The big difference now was that I was an adult, with a real income, and a completely different perspective on what I was reading.  Over the next four years, I filled in my collection, going back to buy entire series that I missed, picking up the more expensive issues in the runs, even issues from before I was born!  Every issue of Uncanny X-Men from December 1975 to July 2004, for example.  When I lost my job in 2004, I went cold turkey and stopped collecting once again.  While I went back for trade paperbacks for a couple of years, my monthly issues collection stopped for good in 2004.

Today, I have nearly 12,000 comics packed away in a storage unit.  As a collector, I’m quite proud of that collection.  More importantly, though, comics was a big part of my education and the fuel for my imagination. That feeling of wonder I get when I look through the covers, remembering all those thousands of stories, that’s the intangible feeling that I never want to lose.

Is Prompting Necessary?

I’m reading the news about Automattic acquiring Plinky, and it has me wondering if it’s something that I would need.  From the blog:

Each weekday, Plinky provides a prompt — like a question or a challenge — and you type in an answer. To keep it interesting, prompts are a mixed bag of fun commands (“Write a haiku about the last meal you ate”) to more thoughtful questions (“What is your favorite summer memory?”)

It’s an interesting concept, helping people in conquering writer’s block by getting them to write about something, ANYTHING, every weekday.  Seeing as how I’m trying to get back into a more consistent blogging rhythm myself, on the surface, Plinky sounds like something I’d find useful.

PlinkyNever mind that there is a distinct gap in the Plinky prompts, from April 6th until today.  I assume that can be chalked up to Things Labs focusing on other things, like Brizzly, and letting Plinky go stale until Automattic came into the picture.

My issue with Plinky is not the concept, but the prompts themselves.  I would need something a little meatier to write about, especially if I was stuck for content.  I really can’t see myself writing anything more than a couple of lines on any of these topics.  I know that a service like Plinky is looking to appeal to a mass audience, and with over 11 million blogs on alone, that certainly qualifies as a mass audience.  There’ll be SOME pickup of these Plinky prompts, but not enough to make me think the prompts will become compelling to me.  I can’t imagine writing 500 words on “What’s a good place to get fresh produce?”, unless I gave you turn-by-turn navigation from my house to a farmer’s market several towns away.  And, really, who wants to read that?  I know I sure as hell don’t want to write it.

Similarly, Formspring prompts you for questions that I really don’t find particularly interesting — not that anyone bothers to ask me questions on Formspring, mind you.  Hint, hint.

Although, for today, it’s kind of fun to throw a bunch of them into one blog post…

Don't you just love Cape Cod? It's sooooooo relaxing.

What’s your favorite summer memory?

Driving over the Bourne Bridge with my father, for Cape Cod summers, with Dad waxing, “Don’t you just love Cape Cod? It’s sooooooooo relaxing.”

Share a time when the end of one thing meant the beginning of another.

Changing over to this blog.

You’re in charge today. You make the rules.

Chocolate pudding for everyone!

What landmark did you find disappointing when you saw it in person?

Plymouth Rock.  It’s just a rock.  No, really, it’s a frigging rock.

Could you live without a car for a year?

I’m pretty sure I’d survive. I require oxygen, food, and water. Everything else is bonus.

It’s the last day of middle school… will you sign my yearbook?

No, but I’ll write on your Facebook wall.

Which animal makes the best pet?

Turtles. I can outrun them if they escape. Usually.

You only get three crayons to make your picture. Which do you choose?

Red, Yellow, Blue.

Write a haiku about the last meal you ate.

Lunch today was yum,

I had a slice of pizza,

Just cheese, no toppings.