Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Idea Lists Revisted

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

In a blog post I wrote before, I discussed listing ten ideas to write about, and then picking the one that most interests you and writing it. Then you take the five others that most interest you, and put them on a new list. Then you come up with ten more ideas for the new list so that you have fifteen ideas. Then you pick the most interesting one, write it, and then pick the other five most interesting ones, and so on.

I need to start doing that – more for the purpose of writing the posts that interest me than for idea generation, though that’s part of it. I have ten ideas that I wrote as follow up ideas to that post, and I have ten ideas on the newsgroup (though some of these I’ve already written). The point is that I have my list well on its way, so why not keep at it?

1. How does this [the lists of ten and fifteen] apply to bigger projects like novels?
2. An examination of industries that use good sales to prop up bad sales and why sometimes that’s necessary.
3. Auto-tuning.
4. Online chat pros and cons.
5. How I wrote 365 poems in 2010 and what was good about the idea and what was bad. 6. How this method [the lists of ten and fifteen] is similar to prioritizing to do list activities.
7. What if you saved one dollar for every ten you made like you write out one idea for every ten you think of.
8. How this is similar to the three minutes of usable footage a day thought.
9. TV shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled and shows that should have.
10. The plan to have two weeks of posts ready for our vacation at the end of next year.

Looking at this now, I would choose the one that is most interesting to me. Number 10 is the one that catches my eye, because it is the most blog/ATW related, and where possible, I would like to prioritize things that are related to ATW projects. So let’s get to that now:

As you may know, Nathan and I created three reserve blog posts before the start of the year. The point was that three posts were to be considered zero posts. In order to post an article or schedule one to be posted, we had to write a fourth post. Further, if we wanted to post a reserve, we had to write a replacement for it. So far this year we’ve done well with this.

The act of having reserves and the act of listing of ten ideas and choosing the best have the same basic purpose. It’s an attempt to increase the quality of our blog posts. I have another thought about how to make the reserve part useful.

As you may know, we operate on five ten-weeks of goals each year, and we take two weeks off around Christmas. At least officially. We do take some of that time to get ready for the new year. My idea was to slowly build our reserve over the course of the year. By the end of January four posts will be the new zero posts. By the end of February, five posts will be the new zero posts. And so on, until the end of November when fourteen posts will be the new zero posts.

Before our vacation, we will each pick the six best from the reserves, which along with the two episodic posts on Saturdays, will make up our vacation time, and potentially give us a good start for 2012 since we’ll each have eight reserves, and only need three. It’s all about the long-term planning, yo.

The other thing I’d like to say about this is that it’s possible we might take another vacation at some point in the year. If we do, it’ll be when we have enough reserves to do it. The main reason I didn’t discuss this is because by my figuring, if we want to take another vacation, it really is as simple as having enough posts scheduled into the future that we don’t have to worry about writing new ones for a little bit. To maintain the end of year vacation though, I would still like to make four posts the new zero posts by the end of January, and so forth.

Ok, now that I’ve dealt with that, let me look at the other items on my list.

Numbers 1, 4, 6, 7, and 8 are possible ideas, but I need to figure out if they each work as a full thought, though 1, 6, 7, and 8 might combine well into one post. Numbers 2, 3, and 9 have enough possibility and I do like the ideas. I already wrote about number 5 when I discussed the problem with daily goals, and I just wrote Number 10 as part of this post.

So I would transfer the following five to my new list:

1. An examination of industries that use good sales to prop up bad sales and why sometimes that’s necessary.
2. Auto-tuning.
3. TV shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled and shows that should have.
4. How does this [the lists of ten and fifteen] apply to bigger projects like novels?
5. How this method [the lists of ten and fifteen] is similar to prioritizing to do list activities.

I can always combine those other ideas with the last two if I ever get to writing those. Now I will add the ten ideas I wrote in the newsgroup trying to get this method of brainstorming started with my cohorts, and this list of fifteen will be the new list to draw from.

6. Thoughts on Tron: Legacy.*
7. Thoughts on possible urban legend about Bono.
8. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2010.*
9. Jobs that increase hours at holidays.
10. Auto-tuning.
11. Thoughts about public access changes.*
12. I couldn’t see the moon for the eclipse… well, you know what I mean.
13. Ann Magnuson, Bongwater, and her starring roles in movies and TV.*
14. Trailers for new Transformers and Cars sequels.
15. Almost Famous – Is rock music really dead?*

Yes, auto-tuning is on there twice, and interestingly, one time I thought it was interesting enough to move forward, while the other time I didn’t. In this case, auto-tuning being on the list twice is because I made two separate lists without transferring the five more interesting remaining ideas. It’s possible though that you might drop an idea at some point, and you might end up listing it again. This could either be that the idea interests you more than you originally thought, or it could mean that your path of brainstorming crossed the other path. Decide objectively if it interests you enough to write it now.

As I stated in the previous post, when you get a top five where you’re genuinely interested in writing all the ideas, you should perhaps write them all and review items that were previously dropped, but that’s up to you. Sometimes a dropped idea was only dropped because it wasn’t as interesting as something else listed, and sometimes a dropped idea should really remain dropped. Perhaps you can review old lists and find only those that interest you. Perhaps on a day that you can’t find ten new ideas, you can look through the old lists and complete your ten ideas for that day. And like I said in the previous post, if someone is willingly sharing their ideas with you the way that we here at ATW sometimes do among ourselves, or even various websites that do writing prompts, then feel free to use those ideas. Heck, if any of the ideas I listed today prompts a thought for you, go with it.

The asterisks are because the day I posted those to the newsgroup, I had already written a post, so those were the five I was going to move to the next list. Just for the sake of what I’m doing here, I will now take the five that moved on from the first list and four that moved on from the second list and round out the list with six that I came up with tonight. Why four? We already did a “Tron: Legacy” review as a vlog. I actually was about to start it as a joint blog post on the newsgroup. I even wrote the intro, but I’ve decided that I’ll post that when we get the video posted. I also did do the Ann Magnuson idea when I reviewed “Panic Room,” but that’s one of those that can be done over and over if I continue to watch movies she’s in. So my list looks like this now:

1. An examination of industries that use good sales to prop up bad sales and why sometimes that’s necessary.
2. Auto-tuning.
3. TV shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled and shows that should have.
4. How does this [the lists of ten and fifteen] apply to bigger projects like novels?
5. How this method [the lists of ten and fifteen] is similar to prioritizing to do list activities.
6. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2010.
7. Thoughts about public access changes.
8. Ann Magnuson, Bongwater, and her starring roles in movies and TV.
9. Almost Famous – Is rock music really dead?
10. Sarah Palin and the gun sights on the map (maybe done on the newsgroup to be a joint blog).
11. The pros and cons of tribute bands (that one website with combined names and the Jack ads).
12. Another car chase while I’m on post.
13. Joint Blog: The first three Thursday meetings of the ten-weeks.
14. Post about sleep that I started a while back.
15. A post where I reconcile my previous lists and demonstrate the process while I’m at it.

So now out of all that I have to choose the one that interests me the most and write it. I think I’ll do number 15. Hmm. It seems to be done already. See how easy this process is?

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