Blog Squadron – Mission #2: Blogging Ideas and Motivations
Hello and welcome to Blog Squadron Mission 2!
The goal of these missions is to share the experiences of bloggers who write about Star Wars and shed a little light on the writing processes, quirks and routines.
Meet the Blog Squadron!
A few weeks back a call was given by Matt Applebee,@mapplebee7567, via Twitter to gather a group of bloggers, who write about Star Wars, to share our wring processes, quirks and routines. This call was answered by the following Star Wars bloggers:
Matt Applebee: Far, Far Away Radio.com
Jessie Stardust: TatooineDreams.com (Personal Blog, mostly Star Wars flavored) and PassionatelyCasual.com (Star Wars:The Old Republic podcast site.)
Patty Hammond: I currently write for my own EverydayFangirl.com and also for The Future Of The Force, StarWars.com and TheBeardedTrio.com. I have previously wrote for The Cantina Cast and The Detroit News Geek Watch Blog.
Bryan: I’ve posted on a few blogs along the way, but I’m exclusively on hyperspacepodblast.com nowadays.
Sophie: My personal blog is outerrimreviews.wordpress.com, here I am chronicling my journey through the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I also write articles for farfarawayradio.com
Johnamarie Macias: TheWookieeGunner.com
Saf: I write sporadically for ToscheStation.net, MakingStarWars.net, and TheWookieeGunner.com. I also write about Star Wars on my own site, NotSafForWork.com.
Together we formed the Blog Squadron with the mission to help those in the Star Wars fan community get to know us better, understand our blogging process and to give advice to anyone who wishes to join us!
In today’s mission, the Blog Squadron sheds a little light on how we come up with ideas to write about, what motivates us to write and how often!
How do you come up with ideas to blog about?
Matt: Besides the times when a new movie comes out, I’m given complete autonomy in terms of what I write about. I usually come up with ideas while my daughter is in her gymnastics class. As she’s trying to have fun, and I’m trying to ignore the hyper intense parents, I write down all kinds of ideas in a little journal. As far as the topics, I just try to write about either random thoughts I’ve had about Star Wars while driving, conversations/debates my wife and I have had, or fan debates on social media. Those are generally my favorites because I like to see if I can present both sides and try to broker some kind of peace.
Stardust: Coming up with ideas is the easy part! My difficulty is finding the discipline to work with those ideas to make a blog entry. Many of my articles spring forth from what I am seeing in Star Wars news, SWTOR updates, and social media. I read a fair amount of Star Wars books and each one of them opens up so many questions and reasons to talk about my favorite galaxy.
Patty: Some ideas just come to me, others ideas come in the course of watching the films or TV shows, reading the novels or comics, remembering something that happened in the past or by interacting with other fans through social media.
Bryan: Oh this would be a long list, but most of them come from thinking about Star Wars while: running, in the shower, commuting, or discussing Star Wars via Twitter or in person with other fans. To be honest, most of what I blog about now is actually more of a play-by-play of the comics, but I still use the same process to come up with podcast ideas…which are kind of stream of consciousness audio blogs…or something…
Sophie: I have a combination of muses. Sometimes I just get a flash of inspiration and think ‘I must write this down now!’ regardless of where I am or what I am doing! Other times, I’ll find I’m spending several days obsessing about certain themes and characters which I start to jot down notes on and slowly an article is born.
Johnamarie: When it comes to my site, I focus mostly on the animation side of Star Wars, so I think about things that I personally would like to read. That’s how I came up with a Star Wars Rebels roundup because so much news was being distributed, but there wasn’t a system in place to catch it all. I also read other blogs to get my creative juices flowing. Sifting through Twitter and Star Wars themed forums also have a way of giving me ideas. For example, my article about mother-daughter relationships in Star Wars was inspired by a Twitter conversation. I took that and made it into an opinion piece, while also finding a few sources here and there to support my concerns. Inspiration is all around you. You just have to keep your eyes open and ask yourself, “Could I write about that?”
Saf: This is actually something I get asked about a lot, and it’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I generally block out a day or two at the start of the month and spend the entirety of those days brainstorming for creative projects. I write down a list of any little thing I might have some interest in writing about, then extrapolate on those things until I have a page filled with different ideas that might be fun to cover. I’ll also often make polls on Twitter or Patreon to see what people are most keen to read from that point. I find that if I don’t make time to plan these things out, I hit a wall when I go, “What should I write about this month?”
How often do you blog about Star Wars? What factors/motivations help you decide when to write (deadlines, personal or otherwise, being “first” with a scoop, reviews, etc.)?
Matt: I generally blog about every other week mostly because that’s what I told the fine folks at Far, Far Away that I’d do. If I’ve particularly inspired, sometimes I’ll even get two out in a week, and other times I’ll get less. I’m really blessed with the amount of trust and freedom that the whole gang at Far, Far Away affords me.
Stardust: If inconsistency were a virtue, I’d be a saint. I tend to post in fits and starts; long periods of nothing followed by three pieces in ten days. When my blog had its second anniversary last month, that helped renew a spirit within me to write more consistently. Fear of commitment keeps me from quantifying that but I have been thinking about blogging a lot, which surely has to be the first step, right? Unless it is SWTOR-game related, I will never try to scoop on Star Wars stuff, there are a lot of people who have the connections and experience to do that, and I will leave that fun to them. (I am positioned to occasionally scoop on SWTOR due to my participation in an Influencer program with BioWare.)
Patty: I do not have a set schedule. Sometimes I can write everyday, other times it is once or twice a week, other times an opportunity may come up and I write something out of the blue. It really depends on what is going on and how much real life distracts me.
Bryan: I started out as mostly sporadic, then changed to a weekly format, and now I’m back to being extremely sporadic with “regular” blog posts while quite regular with my aforementioned comic posts. I liked having a weekly “deadline,” so to speak, when I was writing for another blog – it forced me to write rather than allow myself to be lazy about it (which I sort of do now, though I tell myself it’s because of the podcast…which it sort of is). If I were starting a new blog today, I think I’d go with a bi-weekly deadline for myself to ensure that I didn’t get too lax in posting, but also didn’t burn myself out too soon.
Sophie: I aim to upload a post to Outer Rim Reviews every other week (I need to have the time to actually read the books I am going to write about!) and usually aim to be about four books ahead of the posts. Far Far Away Radio is generally also every other week so I spend alternate weeks on each blog. Having this structure helps a lot to keep me motivated and because, for me, it is a realistic target I don’t crumble under the pressure of getting posts written. It’s definitely important to set yourself achievable goals because, at the end of the day, if it’s not your full time job then blogging should be something you do for fun – it certainly shouldn’t create stress!
Johnamarie: On a good week, I update the site a few times. On a not-so-good week, I update it only once. To be honest, though, it comes down to “I update when I get the chance.” TWG is my hobby, so even though I would like to keep it updated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I have a daytime job to focus on and other responsibilities outside of that. As for what motivates me, I’ve never been the “first” kind of person. For example, if news breaks, I don’t rush to the computer to post about it on my site. I take my time. Sometimes, I write about it a few days after the fact. Part of it is because I’m busy doing other things or I’m too tired when I get home, and the other part is that I like to think about what I’m writing. I like to provide a thoughtful and unique perspective and not just regurgitate what I see.
Saf: I definitely write about Star Wars a lot less than I used to—though not because I don’t want to! It’s just hard to find the time to write about things for fun when my fulltime job is also writing. These days I most often write reviews for new books, and sometimes opinion pieces on storytelling or diversity. I try to aim for at least once a month, but I’m failing a little at that right now because of life. Deadlines are my biggest motivators though, so I much prefer it when one of my siterunners tells me “I need this by this time” instead of being more lax with me. I’m definitely not a scoops kinda person though. I prefer in-depth discussions or features when I can, which is why I post about Star Wars way less frequently than others might.
As mentioned before, the goal of these missions is to share our experiences and shed a little light on our writing processes, quirks, and routines. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to visit the other #BlogSquadron Mission posts, continuing with Sophie’s post at Far, Far Away Radio.com on 09/29. We also want you to let us know what you think by commenting here or by interacting with us via Twitter using the hashtag #BlogSquadron!