Wish you always had fresh new ideas at your fingertips?
I do. I’ve usually got ideas for posts and articles flying around my head when I’m in exactly the wrong place. In a meeting, in the school pickup line, at the playground, in bed when I don’t want to get up.
No matter how hard I try, my most interesting thoughts always seem to disappear by the time I sit down at the computer to actually write them down.
Remembering all those ideas is impossible for me. And let’s face it: I’m never going to be the person who remembers to write those new thoughts down.
So here’s a blogging exercise I use, when I need to jog my brain for bright new ideas, beliefs, and actions. I call it The Flip Side Blogging Exercise.
Full disclosure: I always do my best to credit where I learned my writing tips and tricks. The original idea for this exercise was from Jon Morrow’s Blog Launch Formula course. Sadly, the course is no longer offered, but I took his Guest Blogging Course and that changed my life, too! I’ve modified it a bit to make it my own over the years.
Total sidenote: Be sure to grab Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks: A Cheatsheat To Writing Posts That Go Viral. It’s a gamechanger, even if you’re an experienced blogger or writer!
How The Flip Side Blogging Exercise Works
Okay, so you have a deadline and no brilliant idea(s). Or you finally have some time to write, but when you sit down at the keyboard, all you can think of are points that have already been made. Everything you go to write is just too obvious.
Here’s what to do, so you don’t fall into the trap of writing the same old thing as everyone else. You can choose to blog with a fresh perspective by using this blogging exercise.
Easy Does It
No lie, this exercise is so simple that I’m not sure I need an entire post about it. But I want you to understand that this method works.
Example: I was writing an article on anti-bullying. I had thought of one point that I wanted to share (gossiping in front of kids promotes bullying). It’s why I wanted to write the article, but I knew that to get published in a major media publication I needed more. More points, more information, more interesting tidbits.
I focused on my reader’s reason for reading: What causes bullying behavior that I might not know about, as a parent? Am I doing something that might be raising a bully?
Everything I thought of was too obvious. We all know that bullies grow into bigger bullies by being perceived as more powerful. Everything I came up with was boring and repetitive.
Enter the blogging exercise. I split my paper into two columns: Expected Advice and Flip Side Advice.
Expected vs. Unexpected
On the Expected side, I listed out everything that the readers expected me to say:
- spoiled kids become bullies
- bullies become bullies through exerting their power,
- kids with bad homes are more likely to bully (not true, btw)
- bully parents raise bully kids (not true either)
Blah, blah, blah…
Now Flip It Around!
The other column was Flip Side Advice, and this is where things got interesting. I listed the craziest, most out-there ways I could think of to encourage bullying, like:
- Talking on the phone
- Watching My Little Pony
- Ignoring your child
- Feeling powerless
The Flip Side list contained a lot of behaviors that you would not associate with a bully.
Most of the ideas were ridiculous and scratched out immediately. But by sifting through each idea, I discovered solid gold hidden underneath.
- Talking on the phone—>gossiping—->verbal bullying and power manipulation
- Overscheduled kid—->feels like he has no control over his life—–>takes it out on others
- “Funny” YouTube videos—->routine exposure—–>compassion fatigue
Do you see? By listing out what people expect to read, you can set those ideas aside. Then you have room to make room for what readers want to read: new information that you can blog with a fresh perspective.
All with a simple little blogging exercise.
The Flip Side Blogging Exercise:
- Select a topic (Remember only one message per post)
- Make two columns on a sheet of paper
- In the first column, list out everything your reader thinks you’re going to say.
- In the second column, start brainstorming! What crazy, seemingly unjustifiable ideas pop into your head? Write ‘em down.
- Examine the second column and search for the best connections!
A word of warning: Not all ideas are good ideas. Most ideas are bad ideas. Be sure to take time for a reality check. What Flip Side Advice best helps your readers? More importantly, what is true?
It’s All About A Fresh Perspective
Give your readers something new, interesting, or different, and you’ll have readers for life. Use the Flip Side Blogging Exercise to grab readers and pull them in. List out what readers expect you to say about a topic, then make a list of all the unexpected points you could make. The points that can be backed up are keepers!
Choose the points that are unexpected and helpful. You’ll find yourself writing refreshing posts, no matter what the subject.
Because the last thing you expect to read is the first thing you’ll remember.
Pass it on. 😉