Despite my admitted tendency to read books about reading and write blog posts about writing, I do think it’s important for writers—especially nonfiction writers—to expose themselves to other sources of information when they go online, if for no other reason than to have something to write about!
Today’s post was inspired by a post I read recently at Fuel Your Writing Blog, “6 Non-Writing Blogs You Should Be Reading.” I enjoyed visiting several sites suggested in the post, particularly PostSecret and Craziest Gadgets. I’ve decided to offer my own list of non-writing-centric blogs to add to their RSS aggregators, with an explanation of why each one might benefit you as a writer.
When thinking of writing topics or story ideas, it’s nice to have your finger on the pulse of what your friends and neighbors are talking about, so that your stories have some resonance for your readers. Open Culture bills itself as the “best cultural and educational media on the web,” and it never fails to stimulate my mind with links, videos and tips relating to arts, culture, education and history.
If you want to pick the brains of today’s “thought leaders,” or research high-profile story sources, visit the TED blog. Developed in 1984 as a conference to bring together leaders in technology, entertainment and design, TED has become a portal for spreading ideas through brief, information-packed presentations. It’s become an intellectual badge of honor to be invited to do a TED presentation, so whether you’re scouting sources or just fishing for interesting topics to write about, TED is a great place to park your eyeballs for an hour.
If your writing has an advocacy bent (either covering change movements or participating in them), you will want to check out GOOD, which bills itself as “a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward.” Covering design, the environment, business, food, people, politics and much more, the blog summarizes the best of the organization’s magazine.
The relationship between writing and other artistic disciplines can be a pretty tight one, and cross-pollination is highly likely if you’re paying attention.
Tammy, the author of Daisy Yellow blog, describes her site as “a vivid life with kids,” and her art projects prompts cover both experiments for adult artists to try and family art-making projects. Her site is always alive with color and creativity—if you’re feeling verbally dry, rest your eyes on her posts, maybe even try a few of her suggestions, and see if that doesn’t get your writing mojo working again.
Chris Zydel at Creative Juices Arts blog is a wild woman! And her blog can help you release your inner wild writer! She writes passionately about the creative process and the need to maintain a direct connection with the playful spirit inside each person in order to make living, authentic art. Her latest post (as of this writing) is “Abuse your art supplies,” and many of her entries are in that vein—intense, dead-on and incredibly encouraging.
If you have a passion for music, revive your writing by visiting Elaine Fine’s Musical Assumptions site. Her posts remind me of wonderful conversations I’ve had with other musicians after we’ve rehearsed together—and that sort of relaxed idea-interchange and creative intimacy is often just the ticket to get a writer’s mind flowing with narrative or wordsmithing ideas for their own work.
I’ve sort of fallen in love with infographics. In addition to being something that every 21st Century journalist should understand, they are terrific examples (much like Twitter updates) of delivering a message filled with impact using few, or even no, words.
Two of my favorite infographic sites are Information Aesthetics and Information is Beautiful. Each is set up slightly differently, but both link to dazzlingly beautiful graphics that take complex issues and boil them down to the basics one needs to grasp them and discuss them intelligently. If only our writing could do that more often!
In a related vein, I also love the Hand Drawn Map Association’s website. With maps ranging from blocking diagrams for stage plays to directions to church, I find perusing the site a very interesting study in how people represent spatial relationships and how they approach writing directions for something that must be done in real-time (i.e., navigating a 3-D environment).
Exercising your options
One other blog that I like to read for its quality writing on a topic many would consider a hobby (or perhaps way of life) is Jill Homer’s Up in Alaska blog. Jill works for a newspaper in Juneau, but the purpose of this blog is to chronicle her cycling and other endurance sports pursuits—which she does, lyrically and enjoyably.
I’m not a regular bike-rider, but her descriptions of days-long tours into the backcountry make me want to don my helmet and take off for parts unknown—on-road or off. She does a good job of capturing the intensity and satisfaction that cycling must bring her, and for that reason, it is a good blog to follow in terms of translating a visceral experience onto the page.