Friday, October 5, 2012

Pish Posh Challenge - Week 5

The Pish Posh Challenge is still going strong. This posts marks the completion of the fifth week. Pish Posh challenged her readers to pick something about their lives they would like to change and start working on it over the course of the next eight weeks. She also challenged us to give a weekly update and link back to her blog. In my first post, I challenged myself to blog at least five times a week in order to challenge myself as a writer and hopefully improve with all the extra practice.

I have been able to meet my goal each week so far and this week I did it without all the whining I subjected my readers to last week. This week the challenge has been much easier. On Monday I started a new job as a security guard at a homeless shelter. I work the midnight shift, so I have plenty of time to write while I am at work. I also use that time to do homework, read and catch up on my favorite blogs.

Here is a recap of my posts from this week:

Monday, October 1
Fortune Cookie #4 - Fruitless Argument
I have gotten into the habit of using the advice in my fortune cookies as writing prompts. This one made a ridiculous claim that I had to call to task.

Tuesday, October 2
Silence Speaks Volumes
The kids next door inadvertently work to make my life hell and I reflect on the parental quest for silence. I share a story from my youth to illustrate. My baby brother almost got dry roasted in our attempt to not disturb our father.

Wednesday, October 3
Learning Curve
I try out a few new Blogger and HTML tricks I learned and examine some of the search terms that led people to my blog.

Thursday, October 4
Blog Traffic OR Fifty Shades of Grey
This post is an expansion on the search terms from the day before. It's an experiment to see what kind of traffic I can bring to my blog by using key words in the post. I focus on the recent presidential debates and expand into entertainment, sports and try to capitalize on Fifty Shades of Grey. In fact, Fifty Shades of Grey is inserted between every paragraph in white so the reader can't see it, but the search engines can.

Last week I offered a few blogging tips and it seemed to go over pretty well, so I thought I would try it again.

I have been asked where I come up with the ideas for my posts. This is a problem most regular bloggers are familiar with. What am I supposed to write? Since my blog does not follow any type of a theme, I can write about anything, but some days the ideas come easier than others.

It took me months of blogging to get into the blogging mindset, but once I did, I was always on the lookout for blogging material. I carry a small notebook in my back pocket that gets pulled out when something happens that I think might make decent blogging fodder for later. Sometimes I just write down a few key words to remind me about it later. Other times, I start taking notes when I am in an ongoing situation, so I don't forget any of the juicier details. I also keep a notebook by my bed for late night ideas, one in the backpack I keep in my car, and one in my computer bag. This way, I should be able to get my ideas to paper regardless of where I am at the time.

For ideas that are less developed, I have a Word document on my computer. This file is just for topic ideas that have not been worked out yet. Here's a peek at what is in that document.

  • My philosophy on the root cause of people’s problems
  • Photo montage of the ever-changing Kirsten
  • The story of Susan and Heather
  • My life as a nerd and my transformation into society
  • Funerals vs. Weddings
  • My fear of growing old and plan for retirement
  • My strange allergy
  • Modern Art (especially the trip to NY)
  • Spring Break with Christian (Cleveland)
  • Love for travel & trips I (we) have taken
  • Food I have eaten and want to eat
  • My wonderful childhood and upbringing
  • My time at LCC (Married Student Housing & friends)
  • Me and video games
  • TiVo - Love it and having to live without it
  • High-speed Internet
  • Netflix vs. Blockbuster vs. video stores
  • Teens and texting - my battle with
  • The perfect grilled cheese, fried egg, tuna salad
  • The Crew - Road Riding
  • The search for awesome food
  • The genius of J.J. Abrams
  • Puerto Rican customs and food
  • Asian Horror Movies
  • Adventures in Tattooland and MC-ville
  • Car and Travel Games
  • Years of back pain - my bicycle accident
  • The wisdom of Mr. Feeny
  • Trip to Texas
  • My first date (Jennifer W.)
  • Naming the Server every time
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Kirsten turning 16 and driving
  • Stunts - Picnic Table - Rope Swing in Radom - Ladder Balancing
The size of this list is continuously fluctuating. I pull a topic off this list for a post at least once a week. I add to it just as often. Notice that it is a simple list. These are not developed ideas. Many of them may not even make sense to you, but each one has meaning to me. They are just topics that came to mind to serve as a springboard for days when I don't know what to write. This list has saved me many times when I was determined to put a post out for the day, but didn't know what to write.

At other times, I really try to challenge myself. Back in February, I decided that I would build a post around every fortune cookie fortune I received. When they bring me the check and the cookie at the end of the meal, I know it will be a post by the end of the week. I just have to figure out how. Some fortunes are easier to work with than others.

Most importantly, I get out of my house and live life. There is so much to write about. I just try to make sure that I am paying attention. Anything can be a blog topic. It doesn't even have to be interesting. It's all in how you tell the story. One piece I am particularly proud of was about me getting a good parking space. Not exactly an interesting topic, but I used it as a springboard to an older memory of parking insanity.

Of course, I also write about past experiences. Studies show that every person has been alive for the entire length of their life. That means that we all have years of experiences behind us. I pull a lot of my stories from my memories.

If you really get stuck for ideas, go to your favorite search engine and type in "writing prompts." There are hundreds of sites that will give you suggestions. I have used this technique many times.

Just like last week, I am not claiming any of this to be professional advice. It is just some habits I have picked up since I started blogging and they work for me.

Writing doesn't just happen. Be intentional and WRITE HARD!


  1. I should probably start carrying a notepad around. I always come up with brilliant post ideas throughout the day but by the time I get home I had forgotten all about them. I guess my memory isn't what it used to be!

    1. That's exactly why I started doing it. I would get home at the end of the day and couldn't remember what my "great idea" from earlier was.

  2. I'm impressed with your list, Brett. I have a notebook with a few ideas, but that's a list and a half.

    I'm impressed with the way you've been able to stick with the writing schedule that you've set for yourself. Well done!

    1. Thank you. Most of the items from that list were from a day when I just sat and brainstormed ideas. The list is actually about 3 times as long as what I threw up here.

      I have things to write about. This challenge just helped me get disciplined enough to get them out.

  3. That's it. I'm stealing this entire list! Be prepared for upcoming posts on my first date with Jennifer Weinberg and Kirsten turning 16. This is gonna be epic!

    1. I hadn't even thought about someone stealing my ideas. Although, I would love to here your take on these.

  4. So far I haven't needed a writing prompt but I've only been at this a year. Who knows, the time might come....

    1. Some days I'm just not feeling creative, but want to write something anyway. On those days, I have to cheat a little bit.

  5. Like you when an idea pops into my head or something happens I make a note, many of my posts come from past or present experiences, I like the no theme blogging because with this format the ideas are endless.

    1. I tried to decide on a theme before I started the blog and then decided against it. I would run out of things to say if I had to stay on one topic.

  6. I keep meaning to get a notebook to carry around, but I would probably never find it once I put it into my purse. Usually, I text somebody about what just happened, and that seems to help me remember, so it's not too bad. I'll have to remember the tip about Googling writing prompts though. That's really clever.

    Congrats on making it through another week!

    1. Thank you. There are tons of sites that offer writing prompts. Some even offer to email you a topic every day if you wish.

  7. I use the notepad app on my Iphone to jot down ideas for posts. has great ideas too, including making a blogging schedule for each day of the week if you blog daily. I've followed a daily routine for a bit, but find it hard to keep up with daily. One thing I do consistently is Q and A Day on Tuesdays.

    And congrats on another week of Pish - I came in late but am loving the challenge!

    1. I will take a look at ProBlogger. I don't think I have ever come across that one.

      Thank you on the congrats. It's been fun.

  8. Good job still sticking with it! I am happy for you that this week was easier.

    Congrats on the new job, too! It actually sounds like a really intersting one...I imagine we may hear a story or two from it :)

    I use the notes section in my ipod for ideas, although a notebook on the nightstand is a good idea, as I have trouble typing on my ipod when I'm half asleep. I have no shortage of ideas, its the turning them into a quality post part where I get caught up!

    1. I have a bad habit of throwing a couple of words on paper to remind me later about a post, but when I look at it later the words don't help me any.

      elephant inside voice

      What!? I wrote this yesterday, but have no idea what it means. I need to write a little more before I put the paper down.

  9. I need to get out of my house and live life. I'd certainly be happier and have more to write about. I'm trying to adjust to a commute and major life change and its been hard, seems like all I'm doing is working and trying to keep my lil blog afloat - barely.

    Thanks for the hilarious inspiration as always!!

    1. You have an excuse right now, but we'll only accept it for so long.

      Thank you. Hang in there, Pish.

  10. Proud of you! I love how many of us jot ideas down by various methods - iPhone notes is mine as well! It's so true, that there is SO much to write about out there, if only we change our perceptions to see them. Some of my favorite posts have been about people-watching in airports. So. much. material. :)

    1. I throw ideas in my phone when I don't have a tablet with me.

      While there is no lack of material, it is the turning of ideas into something worth reading that is the difficult part.


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