13/06/2016

NBI: Five Sources of Inspiration

This month is NBI month - if you don't know what that means, you can head over to Rav's blog here and read a bit about it. The short version is that NBI stands for "Newbie Blogger Initiative" and is a time to encourage people who've been thinking about starting a blog to do so and to give newbie bloggers who've already made the jump useful advice and an opportunity to promote their writing. In the spirit of the latter, one of my guildies has started a little blog project where he makes news stories out of NPC background conversations - check out the SWTOR Journalist.

I've previously also used the NBI to dish out unpopular advice, such as that it's perfectly OK to have a blog that limits itself to a very narrow subject, such as a single MMO. I thought this time I'd take the opportunity to talk a bit about how to find things to write about when your blog has a narrow focus, though some of this can definitely be applied to multi-gaming blogs as well. Incidentally, I don't actually think that giving yourself the option to write about anything necessarily makes it any easier to come up with things to write about. Science has shown that too much choice can be crippling, as I'm sure many gamers with Steam libraries full of unplayed games know all too well. Anyway, on to my suggestions for what to write about when you're struggling for inspiration:

1. What you've been doing in game

I would've thought that this would be the first and most obvious thing on anyone's mind when they start an MMO blog in particular, yet I continue to be surprised by the amount of gaming blogs I see that hardly ever talk about what their writers have actually been up to in terms of gaming. I suspect that some might be afraid that mere descriptions of their latest online adventures might sound too mundane or even boring, but part of the fun of practising your writing skills is making the mundane sound exciting. Making your way to a new zone can turn into an adventure of exploration and a bad pug run can become an epic tale of overcoming adversity.

Talking about what you've been playing also helps your readers relate to you ("man, that PvP match she describes sounds just as bad as the one I had last week..."), shows that you're actively engaged with the game and gives you credibility. Like in all walks of life, you sometimes run into people who enjoy passing themselves off as absolute experts on a game (and its many design flaws, usually) even though they've barely played it, if at all. By writing about what you've been playing, you show that this is not you. And this sort of leads us nicely to...

2. Thoughts and Analysis

Point one posts are relatively superficial, but under point two we can go a little deeper. What does it all mean? You look at what you've been doing in game and pick it apart. Which bits did you enjoy? What could use improvement? Why? How does it make you feel? There are so many questions to ask, and I think this is one of the parts that many MMO bloggers enjoy the most - getting to play armchair developer and feeling all insightful. It's all too easy to run out of inspiration for these though - which is why I feel they tie in extremely well with posts from the first category, because once you've written down what you've been doing, you can always analyse that.

3. What's new in game?

I think one of the biggest stumbling blocks for many a gaming blogger are times when they don't actually play their favourite game(s) very much, whether this is due to burnout or simple lack of free time. But you can still continue writing!

One of the nice things about MMOs is that they are always receiving updates and that they involve so many different people that there is always something to talk about if you look hard enough. When's the next patch supposed to come out and what new features will it introduce? Have the developers made some interesting statement on the official website or in a livestream? What about the community? Maybe a new fan site has opened up or an old one closed? What about that big roleplaying event that's coming up? If you have even a little time to do things like read official forums and fan sites, you should still find plenty of material to share and have an opinion on.

4. Past and Future

If you don't even have the energy to read up on what's currently happening in game, you can always resort to wallowing in nostalgia or daydreaming about the future. Admittedly the former requires the game to have been around for a while and you to have played it for about as long, but there are no real limits on the latter. Remember back in the day when we had to walk everywhere? Look how far we've come in terms of convenience! Anyone remember back when [class] didn't have [iconic ability]? Wouldn't it be great if we could do [thing]? I can't wait for the day when they introduce [feature]!

5. Make your own theme

This last point isn't really connected to any of the previous ones but is more about making your own rules for your blog - self-imposed structures can be a great help when it comes to coming up with things to post about. For example you can pick one activity that you really, really love doing in game and that you could talk about all day... and actually allow yourself to talk about it regularly. If you love taking screenshots, you could have a "Screenshot Saturday" where you post some screenshots that you took that week and talk about them, every week if you like. Instantly recyclable post idea! My Flashpoint Friday series is pretty much the same thing and has provided me with a regular topic of discussion once every two weeks for over nine months now.

Got any other great sources of inspiration to share for those days when you kind of want to make a blog post but it's not quite coming to you naturally? Feel free to leave them in the comments! If you don't have your own blog, maybe you can share what you'd like to see people write about more often instead.

3 comments :

  1. The very last point is sort-of why I've done so many "Top 5" Lists; it's something easy that lasts a couple of posts and gives time to come up with something more 'unique', if you will.


    I want to say that a significant part of the reason that people don't talk much about what they do in-game is not because it's boring or mundane, but because for the majority of events it isn't "worth" dedicating a blog post to. A lot of in-game 'goings-on' are over-and-done with relatively quickly and only a few of these (such as recurring or one-time game-wide events) have any salt to them that people want to write about.

    Alternatively, the subject could be one which the blog's readership would potentially already be very familiar with, and so they mightn't see the point of adding their own perspective to the proceedings for fear of people taking one look at the title and saying "been there, done that".

    I dunno. I agree we need more posts about such activities, as any amount of new perspective helps keeps things fresh and interesting.


    As Red said above, well said. :D

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    1. I dunno, to me saying it isn't worth writing about sounds more or less the same as saying it's too mundane. :) I suppose there's also an art in seeing something you've done before from a different angle. While I've played the levelling game many times by now, it still inspires me in new ways all the time though.

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