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Quick Tip: Plagiarize Yourself

Feel like writing, but can’t settle on a topic? Realize that you haven’t posted to your blog in weeks, but…

Feel like writing, but can’t settle on a topic? Realize that you haven’t posted to your blog in weeks, but finding no water in the well? Mine your own ideas by going back through comments you’ve made, and you’ll soon be giving your writer’s block its what-fors.

As you visit your favorite blogs, leave them comments, click through links they offer, and browse the Reader, you leave a convoluted, zig-zag trail across the landscape of the blogosphere:

Yeah, kinda like that.

Yeah, kinda like that. (Longleat Maze by Nick Odolphie, CC-BY-2.0)

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to map those travels, so you could revisit older conversations and see what common threads run through your reading and commenting choices? You can, on the “Comments I’ve Made” page of your dashboard.

comments ive made“Comments I’ve Made” not only tracks your comments but contextualizes them — it lists your comment along with the one immediately preceding it (if there was one) and any follow-up comments from others. It’s useful for keeping track of the many conversations you’re involved in, but it can also be a great tool for generating post ideas:

  •  If you’re involved in an intense back-and-forth with some other commenters, you probably have the makings of a post on that topic.
  • If you consistently comment on posts that are nostalgic/darkly funny/beautifully photographed/politically-minded, you have fodder for a few different posts. You could write on the subject matter, pulling together the strands of all your comments, or reflect on why you’re drawn to these topics or writing styles.
  • If you find yourself often replying to the same person or few people, maybe there are opportunities for guest blogging on each others’ sites to explore.

“Comments I’ve Made” doesn’t just give context to individual comments, it gives context to all your blogular perambulations. Take a peek now and then to see where you’ve been, and let that influence where you’ll go.

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  1. Love this tip. I commented on another blogger’s post about meditation a few months ago, and ended up writing my own piece about how haiku saved me from a midlife crisis. I think I’ll take your advice and try that again. Thanks!

  2. Great idea. I have done this. Also, I keep a place for random thoughts on a general “rough draft” draft post. Sometimes I can pull together from that. Since my blog is a lot of quotes and photos I fill in with those. Love the Weekly Photo Challenge for this!

  3. I need to start posting more comments when I read blogs. Sometimes, I just don’t want repeat what others already said. I should just state it differently. Note taken! Thanks for sharing

    1. Sisyphus47, I’m able to see it — when you’re in the dashboard of one of your blogs, it’s the second option down from the top (in the left-hand menu). You need to be in one of your dashboards, not in the Reader.

  4. Hmm. I think I unintentionally plagiarise myself all the time, because there’s not much going on in my head so the same thoughts tend to come out again after a while. Oh well, I’ve always argued for consistency in all things.

  5. Awesome idea. I used to comment so frequently, in fact I never just liked I always took time to write comments on posts I read. Good to know that I can use them in some way now that I am finding it difficult to motivate myself to write regularly again!

  6. Some great ideas here. My only problem is that whilst my blog is mainly about crafting, I often comment on blogs that have nothing to do with this subject so not sure if I should digress too much into other subject matter.

  7. Good ideas. Unfortunately, I have the exact opposite problem. Too many ideas, not enough time to write them all. But if that changes, I’ll have a backup plan.

    1. That’s what post drafts are for! Get ‘em all down in drafts, and you can scan all your ideas when you sit down to blog and write about the one that strikes you.

  8. That’s a very good idea. My mind goes through phases of being completely blank, or perhaps its the other way round. Anyway your inspiration is much appreciated

  9. Reblogged this on Dad's Taxi and commented:
    I love this concept. There’s so many times, I look at my screen, want to blog, but my brain has a flotsam of ideas.. with not one idea better than the next… Why not steal from myself??