Bloggers, great ideas happen by accident, great art does not

Sistine Chapel ceilingThe Echo Conference took place in Dallas last week.  I would have loved to have been there but the OCC marketing retreat was already scheduled for the same week. :(

Fortunately, note-taker extraordinaire Tim Schraeder was there and he posted some great notes from the session Scott McClellan did on blogging.

In all of Tim’s 6,000 pages of notes (slight exaggeration), one line in particular jumped out at me:

Great ideas happen by accident, great art does not.

It stood out to me because every remarkable creation, including a blog, requires both inspiration and intentionality, and that’s something a lot of bloggers have a tough time with.

Artists

During the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series, several of the exercises included planning, such as “create an editorial calendar for your blog.”  Some bloggers balked at these exercises, (I think) because like many artists, they dislike structure.  Even though there are mountains of evidence that show having a consistent rhythm to your blogging helps build readership, they preferred writing and posting when inspiration hit them.

Christians writers like to take this a step further and spiritualize it saying they “write as the Lord leads them.”

Preachers

I don’t know how much the Holy Spirit is involved in inspiring bloggers, and I really don’t want to debate that here.  But I was thinking the other day, if there was one group of people that ought to write “as the Lord leads them” it’s preachers.

And yet, most pastors preach one message a week, on Sunday mornings, like clockwork.

I’ve never heard of a pastor calling everyone in on a Tuesday for an extra message because God spoke to him that morning.  I’ve also never shown up on Sunday only to hear the pastor say, “Sorry folks, no service.  God didn’t speak to me this week.”

Intentionally seeking inspiration

I say that half joking, but the reality is preachers have to be consistent and so they’re intentional about seeking God’s guidance for their messages.  There’s no reason why bloggers can’t do the same thing.

Three ways bloggers can be more intentional are…

1) Schedule time in a quiet place where you can pray, think, and write.

2) Get ahead. There’s no reason why you should publish a post as soon as you write it.  If you’re goal is to post 3 times a week, write a few posts at a time, work a week or two ahead.  If you do that, your writing schedule can be erratic while your publishing schedule is consistent.

3) Do the work. Most great blog posts can’t be written in a few minutes.  If they could, someone would have already written them.  They almost always require research, planning, and/or contributions from other people.  The best posts we’ve ever done here at Christian Web Trends were a part of the online church series, the 20 ways to share your faith online series, and the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series.  All of them started as ideas weeks or even months before they were published and then involved reading, research, and recruiting other bloggers to make them happen.

There’s lots of other great blogging insight in the notes of Scott’s session which you can read here. (Thanks Scott and Tim for making this post possible.)

Are you naturally stronger in the inspiration or intentionality side of blogging?  What do you do (or will you do) to strengthen your weaker side.

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

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