What to Write About on Hive ~ How to Generate Ideas for Posts

So you've committed to writing a Hive post every day (or at whatever frequency you've chosen). Great! As I talked about the other day, showing up is one of if not the most important step to being successful on Hive (and in life). Congratulations on making the commitment to doing just that!

But, I hear you cry, what should I write about?

Indeed, grasshopper, indeed. That is the question, isn't it? I've seen variations of this question many many times, most recently in this post by @dagger212. It's a good question. What should you write about...?

I have some theory here to play with. Some theory based on my Zen Buddhist practice of twenty years. But it might be too philosophical for you so before we get to that let's look at a practical example of what I do.

The Dbooster Hive Idea Writing Method

Image by Firmbee from Pixabay

I long ago made the habit of jotting down all ideas I have. Any time I find myself thinking of an idea for more than a few minutes, I write it down. If I'm reading an article and my brain starts running with an idea in that article, I write it down. You get the idea. I may write down just a word, a sentence, or maybe a few lines. I don't judge the idea. They might be bad ideas or good ideas, brilliant or stupid: I don't place any value judgement on them, I just write them down.

Then later when I sit down in front of my PC or in front of my paper (because I often write drafts of my posts with a fountain pen on paper), I look thru the notebook for ideas. Bad ideas get crossed out, good ideas get circled, and any of those good ideas that jump out at me, they become the topic of my writing.

And... well, that's pretty much it. Simple, eh? Guess we can end the post right here really. Short post for today.

Naw, let's keep going!

The Hipster PDA

Photo from Wikipedia

I got this idea years ago from fellow named Merlin Mann who created a system he called the Hipster PDA. That's kind of a joke name. PDAs—personal digital assistant—were all the rage at the time. These were handheld computers that had calendars, notepads, contact info, and that kind of thing. The idea of a PDA may seem quaint today, but in an era before smartphones they were pretty revolutionary. Instead of carrying around a big planner full of stray papers, you could just carry around this one device which wasn't much larger than a smartphone.

The Hipster PDA then was a stack of index cards held together with a binder clip that you carry around with you. Such a simple, stupid idea, but so powerful. The ability to record random thoughts is huge, but the problem with PDAs—and this is an even bigger problem with smartphones—was that as soon as you turned it on you'd get distracted and start doing something other than what you had turned it on to do. You waste ten minutes doing this other thing, turn off the PDA and put it in your pocket, then realize you forgot to do what you had intended to do.

The Hipster PDA fixed that problem. You can't be distracted with a small notecard. I mean, I suppose it is possible—you could make a small paper airplane or some other origami—but mostly a notecard is boring enough that it isn't going to carry your attention away so you could write down what you need without being distracted. Simple but brilliant!

I still use a Hipster PDA. Sometimes I use a rubber band instead of a binder clip, but the point is I still always have some index cards with me. This is where all my ideas get written. Then they get moved over to a small notebook, usually at night. It is during this movement process that I usually do the value judgement and circle good ideas or cross out bad ones.

Anyway, that's my method. And it's worked pretty well for me. I've written daily posts for the past 2 years, so that's at least 730 in a row. I had some absences in my 3rd year for private reasons, but my first two years were almost daily. That's a lot of posts. I've been using this method the entire time. Try it and see if it works for you.

How to Generate Ideas: Leave the Mind Alone

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Let's circle back to the question of what to write about.

There is a single question that just about every single writer gets asked so many times they start to get sick of it. Think about it for a few minutes and I'm sure you can guess what that question is.

"Where do you get the ideas for your stories?"

Musicians hear a version of this too, so they also know it well. It's a harmless question, but also a frustrating one because often we don't know. It's not like there is some special exercise we can do like a sit-up that gives us ideas when we do it. Oh boy—wouldn't that be cool?

Usually writers give different versions of "They just come to me". Writers more given to philosophizing may try to give techniques for making this happen or at least enabling it to happen. Usually this boils down to doing something that frees the mind to do it's own thing, and that often results in the mind giving an idea. Taking a shower or bath is a popular one. I've also heard going on a walk or a drive. The key here is something where you are relaxed and not thinking, or rather you are not trying to micromanage the mind and you are letting it free to do whatever it does, which sometimes results in ideas.

In my opinion, that's it right there. We stop micromanaging the mind. Heck, we stop managing it at all! We let it do its own thinking while we do something else. Stop trying to make it happen and let it happen.

I'm sure all of you have heard the eureka story or some version of it. It goes: A brilliant scientist is working on a problem. The blackboard is covered with super-complex equations and he's been working on this all day. The image here is Einstein, by the way, though I'm not sure if this story came from him or another scientist from that era. Anyway, he's working on the problem but he just can't figure it out. Finally in frustration he gives up for now and decides to go soak in the bath for awhile to relax. He sits down to relax, mind blank, then suddenly: Eureka! I have it! The solution just popped into his head.

Image by Andreas Riedelmeier from Pixabay

We've all had similar things happen. We can't remember someone's name no matter how much we try, but as soon as we give up and start thinking about something else, the name pops into our head. Or we can't remember that actor's name when we are talking to our friend about the movie, but as soon as we hang up the phone the name comes to us. Or there is some problem with our work that we just can't figure out, but as soon as we turn off the lights for bed and lay down, a solution comes to us.

In Buddhism we have this idea that we are not our mind. Meditate long enough and you will see this for yourself, but even without meditation you can get some hints of it. Every organ in our body has a purpose. The lungs breathe, the kidneys filter blood, the heart pumps blood, and so on. And the mind—it thinks; it works out problems; it filters thoughts just like the kidneys filter waste and moves them around just like the heart moves the blood. Some of those things are important enough that our body doesn't give us direct control of them, but some we do have control over, like our lungs. We can manage this or try to manage it. But it's also easy to screw up, like when we are trying to do some kind of special yoga breathing (such as Pranayama), and it tends to work best when we don't give much thought to it. The mind is often the same way. When we try to manage it we can screw things up. But when we let it go and let it work by itself, it can usually do a much better job.

Stop trying to make it happen and let it happen.

Ok, let's not get too far into the theory. I'll stop before I start to sound like Alan Watts.

You already know how to stop micromanaging the mind and let it do its own thing. Go take a walk and just enjoy your surroundings, take a jog, take a drive, take a shower. These kinds of relaxing activities are perfect for giving the mind room to work.

Try these and they might help let your mind work on the problem of generating ideas. Just make sure you carry some notecards with you so when the mind does throw some ideas at you, you can write them down!


  • Title image made by me in Photoshop from this photo by Pexels from Pixabay

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Hi there! David LaSpina is an American photographer and translator lost in Japan, trying to capture the beauty of this country one photo at a time and searching for the perfect haiku.

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