Two and a half years ago, I started blogging on a whim. Unlike many of the garden blogs I visit, I don’t chronicle what I’m doing in my own garden, although I do drop in on it occasionally. I write about design, though not with the single minded focus of some of my colleagues. Sustainability is often a topic, but I don’t like preaching, even when I’m the one doing it, so as a steady diet, it doesn’t work for me. I share what I see on my travels, but since I rarely go anywhere, travel doesn’t even warrant its own category.
As long as it connects to gardening or design, even in the silliest or most tenuous of ways, I’ve considered it fair game for a blog post, so I can’t complain that I’ve hemmed myself in. Despite this, I’m finding it harder and harder to come up with topics that are both interesting to me, and potentially entertaining or informative for others to read. My post frequency, always a bit random, has become even more unpredictable. And I can’t blame it all on writing a book, since my co-author Rebecca continues to cheerfully post once or twice a week on her own blog, while simultaneously writing a gardening column for Horticulture AND blogging for Fiskars. (Random thought: Some days, I don’t like Rebecca.) Lately I’ve been considering my options, and here’s what I’ve come up with.
There’s more to life than gardening
Recently, friend and fellow Lawn Reformer Susan Harris told me she was burned out on a daily diet of garden blogging. Four years after beginning Gardenrant and her own Sustainable Gardening blog, she’s not tired of gardening, but she wants to write about other things. Last month she started a new blog called Boomer Turn-Ons, and is having a fabulous time covering entertainment, music, health and fitness – basically, any topic that catches her eye as seen through the lens of where she is in her life today. I’m loving her blog – which actually ticks me off slightly as I am old enough to be a boomer only if the most liberal definition is applied. But even though she’s expanded beyond gardening, she still has a theme to tie it all together. Somehow, “stuff Susan Morrison is thinking about today” doesn’t quite cut it.
I participate in a garden writer’s forum on Facebook, and it’s made me realize how lackadaisical I am in my approach to blogging. Not only have I never maintained an editorial calendar for my blog, I had to Google the term to figure out what the heck one was when several writers in the forum were comparing notes on the best way to manage one. They also apparently have so many awesome ideas to keep track of that lots of them do something called mind mapping AND they’re always furiously debating the future of publishing in an informed and passionate manner. While my mind is not currently generating enough incredible ideas that a map is required, I have created my first-ever editorial calendar. (Although this post isn’t on it, so I’m not off to a great start.)
Learning to Love you More
My conclusion: I still want to write about gardening, but need to “look outside the garden” to reignite my creativity. From an article in a recent creativity-themed O Magazine, I learned about the now defunct website Learning to Love You More, which posted various creative assignments (such as draw a constellation from someone’s freckles). The responses were later turned into a book and are archived in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The article invited readers to participate in a series of “un-quizzes”, ranging from making a 30 second video of yourself doing something backwards to drawing a picture of the hair of anyone who stirred you up emotionally in the past year. I’ve opted for un-quiz #3 – take a family portrait under the table. This is what Nick and I looked like after a slightly muddy, post-hike lunch this past Sunday.
Do I feel more creative? I'm not sure. But armed with my editorial calendar and a commitment to regular un-quizzes, I’m hoping to re-energize my blogging. For those of you who have been blogging for a long time, many of you with much greater frequency than me, I’d love to hear your secrets.