I have really struggled lately with coming up with blog ideas – even just an idea for this post has not been particularly fruitful. So, I’m resorting to a post format that I’ve read before many times – the ‘banish writer’s block by writing about your writer’s block’ post. Other people might just decide to put their writing on the back burner until a good idea strikes but, as the custodian of a living linky I not only feel the need to publish at least this one new article a week, but I want and need to keep exercising my brain in this way. Columnists who are paid to produce a weekly piece can’t just drop a week or two (although paid columnists probably have a bit more thinking space than I do!).
Back when I was interviewing authors professionally for The Book Monster, the classic (and not particularly original) question was always “where do you get your ideas?”. I think one of the easiest answers to that question is “through reading”. Other peoples’ ideas can sometimes generate ideas of your own, but then sometimes, it can be a fine line between ‘having your own take’ and outright plagiarism. I’ll admit that last week’s ‘Truth about’ post Why I’m not a Homes and Interiors Blogger was directly influenced by a post from last year by Lisa of How to be a Domestic Disgrace called Why I’m not a Fashion and Beauty Blogger. I pretty much just used her idea as a format (I hope she sees it that way!). Anyway I’m a big fan of the expression ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ 🙂
The other day I came across another blogger’s idea which I loved. Hannah of Mum’s Days started the year with what she calls a ‘specific’ resolution – to visit each of the 45 castles in the county of Northumberland in 2015 with her pre-schooler, inviting other local bloggers to join them on their quest where and when it suits. Apparently Northumberland has the highest percentage of castles of any country in England, and I’m kind of jealous because I’m hundreds of miles away but I do love a good castle!
It got me thinking about the idea of the ‘high concept’ challenge. I’ve always thought this kind of thing is quite clever ever since I read Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks – which essentially took the bog standard concept of travel literature and threw in that comedy element which made the story less about Ireland as a landscape and more about human nature, or at any rate the nature of the Irish and how they reacted to this eccentric Englishman on his bizarre quest. Then there was I am Dave Gorman in which DG travelled around the world meeting up with other people called Dave Gorman (mostly men!) after which his sidekick, Danny Wallace, got in on the act and produced a series of high concept non fiction books from Yes Man in which he attempts to answer in the affirmative to every yes/no question that is thrown his way, to Join Me, in which he puts out a personal ad calling for people to simply join him – for no specified reason and with no end. I kind of loved this as it was unexpectedly a huge success and morphed into a kind of ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ army.
So, the point to all this is that I was reminded that I have always quite fancied coming up with my own little high concept challenge. But after brainstorming for about five days straight (on and off!) I haven’t yet found my niche. What has occurred to me is that the kind of people writing those books? Essentially young, single men who seem to have all the time in the world to devote to the task at hand. I can’t really commit to cycling across 7 continents in 5 days or starting up a cult worshipping misshapen vegetables (?) or, to be honest, even joining a book group right now. If Hampshire had 45 castles? I would probably struggle – Hampshire’s a pretty massive county (although Northumberland is significantly bigger so I’m guessing Hannah is going to be covering some miles!).
I would love to tune into the loves of my life – cinema, books, travel, cycling, tennis, kitchen experimentals, days out – but I am lacking in the time and resources and freedom to pursue even the most low concept version of most of these activities nowadays.
Maybe I’ll start that cult after all – anyone care to join me?