Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blog Improvement Project--Brainstorming

Our second assignment for the year-long Blog Improvement Project is brainstorming to come up with a new, unique feature for our blogs. Kim gave us some excellent resources for how to brainstorm, and I did visit them all. If you'd like to take a look, click on the graphic to the left to be taken directly to the article on Kim's blog. Now, as I've said before, I tend to be a bit contrary. (I can see the expression on my husband's face when he reads that sentence!) I can read How To articles but don't necessarily follow them. What works for other people often doesn't work for me. What I have to do is to come up with a way that works for me.

How do I brainstorm? A lot of times, I'll just start making a list. I could probably medal if list-making were an Olympic event. But that doesn't always work. Sometimes I just have to walk away from what I'm trying to accomplish and not think about it. When I read about the new assignment yesterday, nothing immediately came to mind. What did I do? I did the laundry. I listed some more books on Paperback Swap. I spent the evening with my husband watching television. I finished reading one book and almost finished another. I went to bed. Blogging didn't feature much in my day yesterday, but that didn't matter. Somewhere in the lumber room of my mind, I knew what my assignment was, and I think that the little lumberjack who works there was busy all night long . Why? Because when I sat down at the computer this morning and began reading email, the ideas starting appearing.

What ideas for new, unique features are percolating for my blog? Some will be easy, requiring little or no help from others. A couple will be tougher, taking me out of my comfort zone and having me ask for contributions from others. Who knows which ones I'll go with, but here's the tentative list:
  • A Family Feud-type meme. I've always liked the idea of that game show. Once a week I would ask a rather strange question and see how many witty folks respond with answers. This can be a lot of fun if enough people participate.
  • I could do a weekly feature in which I spotlight various reader's tools-- different types of book lights, bookmarks, book software, etc.
  • I'd really like to do something with an Arizona theme. (I have friends who call me an unofficial employee of the Arizona Department of Tourism.) This could feature books set in Arizona, movies filmed in Arizona...definitely something for me to think about!
  • One that would take me out of my comfort zone is something I'm tentatively calling "The Writer's Room". I got the idea from an article in The Guardian which showed a photograph of the room where an author writes his books. Things like that fascinate me, and I would like to see more rooms where other authors write. This feature would mean that I have to contact authors to see if they're willing to share photos of their "sacred spaces".
  • Another one that takes me out of my comfort zone is an extension of "The Writer's Room". What about a weekly feature that either shows fellow book bloggers' favorite reading spots...or their "offices" where they type up all the great content that fills my Google Reader?
That's my tentative list. All intrigue me. All enthuse me. I just don't know which ones I'll choose to actually do. What are your thoughts? Are there any in my list that you are more in favor of than others? Let me know what you think!


  1. Of the ideas you've listed, here are the ones that strike me:

    I like the idea of the question, especially if humor were encouraged. Could be lots of fun.

    I like the idea of bookish rooms & tools. Maybe your weekly post could alternate between the two. And the rooms wouldn't necessarily have be from people you know or from authors. I'm not 100% sure of copyright issues, but I'm wondering if a single photo from a magazine article (is Architectural Digest online?) might be ok to repost. How about public domain images from famous or just cool public libraries? From famous/historical people's homes? The White House?

    I guess I'm enthusiastic too!

  2. Thanks so much for the feedback, Beth. It really helps me to decide which way I want to go with these ideas!

  3. What great ideas. I love the Family Feud idea and the reader's tools idea. I'm trying to come up with a few ideas of my own.

  4. Thanks, Kathy. May inspiration strike you (gently & with brilliance)!

  5. Hi Cathy! I love the idea of the Family Feud type questions!

    You know, something else you might want to do is feature the books you add to PBS with links to your reviews each week. It would probably give people a good idea of what they could request from you, as well as introduce more people to the idea of trading/swapping sites.

    :) Can't wait to see what you do.


  6. Wendi--have you been mind reading long? Honestly! One thing I didn't include in my BIP post was the fact that I've been toying around with the idea of having a recurring series of posts-- "PBS Tips". (I need to find a jazzier name!)

  7. Wonderful ideas! Family Feud sounds like a fun thing to do.

    That paperback swapping I keep reading about here and there and everywhere...what is that? Is that an international thing or an Amercian/North American thing?

    I also like the Reader's Room photos and the Arizona-idea. I love US and US history, so I would love to learn more about Arizona (I've only been there once and that was en route to New Orleans from San Francisco).


  8. Your Family Feud idea tickled me the most. And piggybacking off that, I wondered about some other quiz show formats or quizzes. Loosely Literary - where you post a cryptic clue and see if your readers can match it to a book or book character.

    The tricky part is coming up with something that isn't too time-consuming, for you or your readers, I guess.

  9. Louise--Paperback Swap is a US-only book swapping site, but I've since learned that there are other similar sites in other countries. There may well be one in Denmark, although I haven't looked yet.

    I'm glad you liked my Arizona idea. I'm thinking about doing something once per month featuring a book about Arizona that might allow use of some of my photographs.

    Susan--I think I might start up the Family Feud post this Friday. If I do one question per week, that wouldn't be too much. I just hope people participate!

  10. "A Family Feud-type meme. I've always liked the idea of that game show. Once a week I would ask a rather strange question and see how many witty folks respond with answers. This can be a lot of fun if enough people participate."

    is my favorite. Although, I don't know how witty I am. ;-)

  11. I know exactly how witty you are, Mike! Good to see you back!

  12. I also like the idea of a Family-Feud type meme, though like Mike I doubt I'm witty enough to respond!

  13. I'm the same way with how to articles, I read them and think about them, but have a hard time disciplining myself to try any of the strategies and just sort of mix and match. I'm glad that you were able to come up with some new ideas, they sound fun! Sorry I took so long to get over here to comment, I'm behind!

    Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

  14. Don't worry about it, Kim. I know all about being busy...except for this week. I was out of town having fun!


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