Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Developing blog post topics

Encouraged by Brian and Miguel, here’s a go at sharing how I select and develop blog post topics.

Honestly, it’s a very organic, unpredictable, and dynamical process. One key is obviously making the TIME to write. Traveling and being away from home certainly provides that, so as I’m on a trip at present, I’m blogging more. I used to be in a routine of staying up rather late to get most of my writing and blogging done, but my 40 day “evening technology use fast” at the end of last year has changed that considerably and restored some more balance (read SLEEP) into my life.

If I could identify five ways or characteristics of the ways I select blog topics, I suppose they would be:

  1. Issues and topics I’m passionate about. I suspect many of us do NOT live out our lives on a daily basis clearly focused on the things we find most important in life. Blogging helps me focus on issues I care about, and process what others are saying that influence my own views and even beliefs. I hope that in addition to focusing my attention on these “issues that matter,” my writing will positively influence others to do the same, or comment if they disagree or have a different view that will challenge my perspectives. Sometimes I blog to share a resource or instructional idea, but the posts I enjoy writing the most (and think may be the most important) are the ones I am moved by conviction and passion to write. A few examples are “Opposing ethnocentrism in schools and society,” “NCLB has been a destructive tragedy, not an accomplishment,” “Reservations about empowerment without accountability,” “Messy assessment instead of flogging with the standards,” and “Let’s fight for recess.” I think posts I put in my leadership and politics categories often follow this line of thinking.
  2. Topics I want to process and remix in greater depth. Blogging to me, at its best, can be a fairly transparent window into the mind of someone else. I love to read, discuss, listen to and share ideas. That is the essence of blogging. Blogging can be both a mechanism for as well as a window into a process of transforming thinking. When I see a topic of interest, I don’t always blog about it (because, of course, there simply isn’t enough time in the day or night) but if it is something I want to remix further, I’ll usually find time at some point to post about it. This is a theme I was driving at in my recent post, “Blogging to order and control consciousness.”
  3. Topics I can synthesize with other ideas and link out from. I have written before that hyperlinked writing is the most powerful form of writing ever conceived by humans on our planet. The ability to connect your ideas to the ideas of others (in various forms: text, images, audio, video, etc) is amazingly powerful. I love to sythesize and remix ideas, and when I can link them to other ideas I think it not only benefits me, but potentially benefits others who may read my post later and be interested in following those links to learn more. I think making inferential intertextual links explicit through hyperlinking is a major way bloggers add value to these conversations in the aether.
  4. Topics relevant and potentially useful for classroom teachers, professors, librarians and administrators. I am a pretty “rubber meets the road” type of educator and person. I do like big picture thinking, and I probably write a lot along those lines, but I also know as an educator myself that theory is nice but PRACTICES are what gets implemented. So when I see an idea, tool or resource that classroom teachers could likely put into practice pretty directly, I like to share those tools. I almost always add links of interest to my social bookmarks now, but if the resource is something I might be able to intelligently comment on (especially in terms of how it could be used for instructional purposes) then I’ll often blog about it also.
  5. Stuff that is cool and fun. I like cool technologies, especially ones that are empowering and transformative. I love digital storytelling, and the potential which exists today to influence the minds of others across previously untraversable barriers of time and space. When I come across a tool, resource, idea or game that is cool or fun I usually want to share it. I maintained a regular (and free) email mailing list relating to educational technology for several years, and those topics followed some similar lines to what I blog about now. When you find something that is cool and fun, I think you have an obligation to share it! So that is probably the fifth and final reason I can think of tonight for how I develop post topics. 🙂

Now, for the obligatory “tag you’re it.” I’d like to hear from:

  1. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
  2. Eric Langhorst
  3. Mark Ahlness
  4. Cheryl Oakes
  5. Ewan McIntosh
  6. Dean Shareski
  7. Darren Kuropatwa
  8. Doug Noon
  9. Vicki Davis
  10. Graham Wegner
  11. Bob Sprankle
  12. Stephen Downes
  13. Gary Stager
  14. Mike Muir
  15. Tim Wilson
  16. Andy Carvin
  17. Steve Dembo
  18. Will Richardson
  19. Scott McCleod

Jenn Wagner has already posted her ideas, I was also going to include her in my list.

If you’re not on this list, please don’t take it personally. (Doing this sort of feels like selecting your “top 8” friends on Myspace. Don’t take it this way.)

I think we need a special technorati tag to track this meme. Any suggestions? I’m using “howdoyouwrite” based on Brian’s original post. Perhaps someone can suggest something else?

Technorati Tags: , ,

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On this day..







26 responses to “Developing blog post topics”

  1. Miguel Guhlin Avatar

    Wes, you’ve hit on many of the reasons folks blog. I often think that bloggers are knight-errants seeking to bring justice to the chaos of human expression.

    You do admirably well.

    Best wishes,
    Miguel Guhlin

    P.S. Your tag “howdoyouwrite” works. I’m going to add it to my posts.

  2. JenniferW Avatar

    You made my morning — in many ways.

    Thanks for your post. Thanks for the link.

    Hugs to you
    Jenn Wagner

  3. Vicki Davis Avatar

    This is an excellent post! I am working on my response this how do you write meme, but as my new years resolution, I have determined that I will do a more thorough job and write less but more quality posts, so it is taking a few days.

    I am saving this!

  4. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach Avatar

    Deeply hurt I didnt make the list. (wink)
    It is an interesting topic. Over on my blog 21st Century Collaborative I am hosting a series of podcasts on creativity.
    After listening to Will Richardson’s podcast with Steve Hargadon I began to think about how the process of creation relates to learning. In the interview, Will describes how blogging should be the result of creative inspiration from reading the ideas of others and then synthesizing your thinking into a blog post.

    The connection between using the work of others as a springboard for creation gave me the idea of doing a series of podcasts with highly creative people to see if this strategy was common. I also am interested to see if there is anything to learn from this possible connection in reforming education, especially as it relates to digital and media literacy.

    The first podcast, an interview with Rob Sweitzer, the keyboardist from Capitol Records artist MAE. The second podcast, is an interview with my first born, Amber who has been an avid blogger for 8 years and is currently averaging 6000 unique hits per day.

    Tell me education doesnt have a lot to learn from digital natives who totally understand how to market their ideas online.

  5. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Ugh, sorry Sheryl! Now you’re at the top of the list! Sorry I left you off…. 🙂

  6. Brian Grenier Avatar


    Thanks for the post. I am finding that the more responses I read to this question, the more clearly I see that there are common threads we all share as to why and how we blog. Keep up the good work!

  7. andy carvin Avatar

    Great post as always. Here’s my response, which focuses on how my blogging work ethic is inspired by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Pete Townshend and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

  8. Gary Stager Avatar

    I’m trapped in South Florida in one of those senior citizen internment camps visiting my grandmother before I drive to FETC tomorrow. As you might imagine, there is no net access here except via my cellphone and it’s killing me.

    So, once I’m in one place for a few minutes with a decent net connection, I’ll respond to your question.

    All the best,


  9. […] Wasn’t really aware of this inquiry amongst bloggers but Wes tagged me so I’ll oblige. […]

  10. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    I know Sheryl, but I really did want to include you!

  11. Stephen Downes Avatar

    You’re only supposed to tag five people. Because that gives the people you’ve tagged lots of space to tag other people. When you tag 19 people, what do the next set of people do? And the next?

    Tagging many people = exaggerated power law (big spike) (broadcast thinking)

    Tagging few people = limited power law (long tail) (network thinking)

  12. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Well, sorry I violated that guideline, Stephen. You’re probably right, I should have just stuck with five. I had a lot of people that came to mind who I wanted to hear from on this, and I also was concerned that some people might feel slighted if I didn’t list them… Like I wrote originally, this sort of felt like picking “my top 8” friends on MySpace. Next time a meme comes around I’ll just tag 5.

  13. Cheryl Oakes Avatar

    Hello Wes,
    I think in this new digital game you tag as many people as you wish. In terms of blogging I usually blog when I have something to say and time. Blogging at has really made me think of international topics (and be on a schedule) which I normally wouldn’t write about. Blogging is about the conversations and I always leave the end of my blogs open ended so people can comment and continue the conversation. Hm, when someone leaves a comment is it blogging? Over and Out, Cheryl

  14. Gary Stager Avatar

    This tag discussion is interesting to me and suggests some things about the nature of blogging. Is the rule for blog tagging more important than Wesley’s question about how and why we write?

    If so, I won’t spend too much more time composing an answer to his question.

  15. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    I can’t speak for others, but I think sharing ideas and having conversations is what the blogosphere is all about. It was suggested that people “tag” five others, but I don’t think there are hard and fast rules about this. Stephen is suggesting that tagging more people will stifle conversation, but I tend to think that it would do the reverse. I am really interested in your response to this question, Gary, I wouldn’t have tagged you otherwise, so I’d love to read your thoughts on this. But the decision to write on this meme is, of course, entirely up to you! 🙂

  16. Eric Langhorst Avatar


    Great question! I will be responding but it will have to be next week – I coach and this week we have had 3 games so there have been several late nights.

    …and pumped by Sheryl! I’m crushed! (Totally joking) I was just thrilled that I made your list.

    Eric Langhorst
    Speaking of History Podcast

  17. Eric Langhorst Avatar

    Sorry – that should read “bumped by Sheryl” – too early for me this morning.


  18. […] This overview of my blogging habits comes courtesy of Miguel Guhlin and Wes Fryer, via Brian Grenier who’s using the tag-a-blogger system to find out more about the actual writing process. […]

  19. […] That being said, I think my comments about how I develop blog post topics reveals that my motivation for blogging goes far beyond striving for popularity. Yes, I want to be relevant, but I write for many intrinsic as well as instrumental reasons. I love to write, think, reflect, discuss, listen and read. Hence, the entire blogging “thing” is very natural for me. I would even go so far as to say it is a “flow activity” for me. […]

  20. Cyndi Danner-Kuhn Avatar

    I love this! I teach Instructional Technology to preservice teachers and require my students to listen to your (Wesley’s) Podcast each week and reflect (also a few others like KidCast & Tech Teacher). I am just about to do the lesson on blogging. Thank you (and everyone else) for providing me a ton of content and resources for this lesson. To this point in the semester, my students have been reflecting using the forum in Moodle, but next week they will learn about blogs, look at many examples and of course read this one and then create one of their own. From that point they will do their reflections each week using their new Blog. If you have any ideas or suggestion for these future teachers, don’t hesitate to send them my way!!

  21. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Wow Cyndi, that is really great– I take that as a great compliment. 🙂

    I remember meeting at MACE-MTI last summer, if you want to iChat videoconference at some point during one of your classes let me know. We can do some back and forth Q&A, it would be interesting to hear what your students see the potential of blogging and podcasting in the K-12 as well as university classroom is at this point.

    I think it is great your students will be creating their own blogs and reflecting and writing there. It is great to get experiences in Moodle, but also worthwhile to post things “out” in the real world outside a login screen. Teaching undergrads and grad students about blogging two years ago, I found students responded differently in a “public” context than behind the login of a course management system. The possibility of interacting with others outside the classroom is also a different and potentially beneficial dynamic. One of my summer students received a comment on her blog from David Warlick, whose books we were using as texts in our course. That had certainly never happened to me before as a student or teacher! We had a videoconference Q&A with David at the end of the course too, which was great.

    In addition to having your students blog, I would encourage you to have them gain experience contributing to WikiPedia articles, especially ones about the communities where they live. I just discovered WikiProject Oklahoma, and something like that for your state or region would be great to get students aware of and involved with.

    Best of luck, thanks for the comment!

  22. […] Bill Ives – Guidelines for Writing Good Learning BlogsWes Fryer – Developing blog post topicsVicki Davis – Becoming a Blogging Maestro: Composing Beautiful Blog MusicBrian Grenier – How Do You Write?Miguel Guhlin – Blogging Yin and Yang […]

  23. […] Moving at the Speed of Creativity » Blog Archive » Developing blog post topics  Annotated […]

  24. […] Web 2.0/Blogging: Fear of Blogging and Developing Blog Topics A couple of articles from two different bloggers about blogging itself.  The first looks at a few common fears of new bloggers (and how to overcome them), and the second is a great list of sources for blog topics.  If you blog (or are thinking of blogging), they’re worth a look. […]