Plinky Prompts? No thanks…

“Overcome Writer’s Block With Plinky Prompts,” says WordPress, and “Each weekday, Plinky provides a prompt — like a question or a challenge — and you type in an answer. To keep it interesting, prompts are a mixed bag of fun commands (“Write a haiku about the last meal you ate”) to more thoughtful questions (“What is your favorite summer memory?”) ”

To which, based on those two naff suggestion, all I can find to say is, for pity’s sake, what the hell do you think we are – 12? Anyway, my favourite summer memory really isn’t suitable for a blog, thank you so much.

If a person becomes a blogger, it’s not unreasonable to expect that they actually have something to say, and some talent with which to say it. That it’s worth reading would be a bonus, and, when it comes to inspiration, there’s a whole world out there to draw on, much of it available online, without running the risk of encountering that nasty fresh air. And – if you’re not actually 12 – you have a lifetime of experience to draw on too. OK, not if you’re 14, perhaps, but for the average adult, yes, certainly. And if you can’t derive even a little inspiration from all that, you’re probably doomed.

A good blogger is, first and foremost, a writer – a communicator – and what comes out of his or her mind should be coloured by their experiences, by their knowledge, by what they see, hear and read – by the totality of their lives. Not a poxy haiku about their last meal, for FFS.

OK, not every post can be like that, but a blogger worthy of the name should be able to get a couple of hundred words out of any subject at all. Hell, I once wrote over 500 words about can openers, just to prove to myself that – as I’d been saying in one of my “how to write” posts – the most unpromising material can be made to work. It’s actually useful, too, if you’re looking for one.

Plinky provides a fresh prompt each day, except weekends. So – a ballpark figure – how many bloggers, do you think, are going to be churning out posts on the same theme every day? The whole concept is just ineffably naff.

OK, I suppose I’m lucky, I’ve never been blocked – when I haven’t posted, it’s because I’ve been too ill, not because I’ve had nothing to say. I think, though, that some bloggers might just be trying too hard.

When I sit down at my computer, I know the subject I want to write about, but I have no idea of what I’m going to say – that just comes, one word logically (hopefully), following on from the previous one like bowling balls rolling down the gutter. Nope – no idea how it works – it just does, for me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t beat yourself up, trying to put a whole, perfectly polished, blog post together in your head, before you even hit the keyboard – just sit down, with a solid subject in your mind, and write. What you wind up with might be crap – equally, it might be a gem – if you don’t try, you’ll never know. Publish the gems – and anything that’s not actually crap – but don’t throw the bad stuff away. One day, you might come back to it, and fix what didn’t work.

And don’t try too hard – not every post has to be a miniature work of literature – and don’t edit and revise too much, your first instincts are often the best, I know mine are. Just remember, the best written blog post in the world is pointless if you’re too lazy to hit the spell-check button.

I read a lot, online and off and – paywalls notwithstanding – there’s still a wealth of news available out there, as well as a whole load of other stuff, and it’s mostly free. If you really can’t get at least one blog post out of the day’s news media – and I don’t mean just rehashing what they’re saying, but an opinion piece – you’re not trying.

Hell, it’s not hard – everybody has opinions; utilise them as I’ve done in my recent posts. Your opinions might attract flack – there’s always someone who’ll misinterpret what you write, or put their own spin on it. But others will agree with you, maybe expand on what you’ve written – either way, you’ll have made an impact, and that’s what matters.

So please, don’t get sucked into Plinkycrap, there really is no need. If you have any writing skill at all, all the inspiration you need is there for  you. As long as you have the will to see it, and the skill to utilise it.

And write. If something sparks, write about it. It might not fly, and you’ll stall 300 words in, or you might get a couple of thousand words, and realise you’ve painted yourself into a corner, and it’s going nowhere. Or it might be perfect – if you don’t try, you won’t know. I reckon that about 20% of what I write never sees the light of day, not because it’s bad, but because it’s not actually going anywhere useful, but I keep everything – one day I might get that little flicker of an idea that’ll let me take a tricky post in a new direction, finish it, and publish it. And the more you write, the easier it will get.

Authors get blocked because they can’t see where their book is going, but they are locked into the constraints of what they’ve already written (unless they want to start over). You don’t have that problem – if one subject doesn’t work, leave it and try another and, if needs be, another – something will gel. It always does, because blogging is about what, and how, you think, for better or worse, not some third party putting second-rate, juvenile ideas into your head.

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4 thoughts on “Plinky Prompts? No thanks…

  1. This is such sound advice, Ron. I’m glad you read that plinkyplonky stuff so I now don’t have to. I suspected it might be something I would regret wasting seconds of my life reading, and so had resisted clicking on it. Your post would be a much better read for all the people who do click on the plinkylinky. Pity we can’t hack in and do a swap.x

    • Hi Deborah,

      What galls me is the hordes of people who, totally uncritically, endorse every damn thing WP does – whether it’s something that’s actually useful or, like Reblogging,, something they’re doing just because they can. There were, as far as I could see, just two of us saying What the hell? among all the mindless adoration. It’s pathetic and WP think the praise of all these all these witless drones is a genuine endorsement, rather than the Pavlovian reaction it really is.

      And, of course, it’s ten minutes of my life I’ll never see again. 😉

      Ron.

  2. Most people wish they still were 12 though, guess that’s why this thing appeals to them so much.

    • I have a feeling, from the nature of the comments of those sucking up to WP, that many of them actually are kids.

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