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From Mundane to Meaningful

For some of us, blogging is personal. Others are trying to educate or entertain; many more are hybrids. Yet we’re…

  • Ready to write? Each Tuesday, we’ll provide a theme. Publish a new post on your blog interpreting the weekly theme. Create a pingback to this week’s challenge to share your post with the community. Learn More.

For some of us, blogging is personal. Others are trying to educate or entertain; many more are hybrids. Yet we’re all storytellers. We all want to feel confident in what we’re offering when we hit “publish.”

No matter what your blogular target is, we want you to hit it, so we’re kicking off Weekly Writing Challenges. They’ll stretch you every which way, asking you to push creative boundaries, master finer points of grammar, and make the most of every WordPress feature.

How it works: Every Monday, we lay out a different challenge along with tips on tackling it, useful resources, and example posts. You read, think, ask questions (we’ll be here!), and get to blogging, tagging your posts with “DPchallenge.” We keep an eye on the tag and highlight the week’s best posts on Freshly Pressed each Friday.

Use the comments to ask questions about the challenge, get feedback, let us know what you think about this series, or share your own challenge ideas. Now: let’s blog!


It’s the rare blogger who’s never been visited by self-doubt: is my life really interesting? Does anyone else in the world care about this topic? Who wants to read about what I had for lunch?

Heck, I don’t even want to read about what I had for lunch, and I’m the one who ate it.

But people do care; if they didn’t, where would the blogosphere be? Just like each of us thinks that our own family is the weirdest and that our nose is the wrong shape, each of us also has something to share that others will gravitate to – and we secretly know that, or we wouldn’t have started releasing our thoughts to the wilds of the internet in the first place.

(Okay, maybe the nose thing is a personal problem. But the larger point still stands.)

The trick to creating that common bond: focus on the why, not the what. For this week’s challenge, we want you to take something you think isn’t worth sharing, do a little digging, and turn it into something your readers can connect to.

Allow me to explain. A post like this probably isn’t going to generate many comments:

What I Had For Lunch

I was pretty busy this morning and didn’t have time to pack a lunch, so I ran to the deli for a tuna sandwich. It was decent, although I think they use too much mayo.

But this post might:

Keeping Nana’s Memory Alive

This morning in my house was a zoo – fridge empty, shoes missing, homework lost, dog unfed – so I ran out the door without my usual yogurt and apple (AKA the lunch of champions).

I ducked into a deli around noon to pick something up. Even though my beloved strawberry Chobani was right there in the case, I heard myself order a tuna sandwich on rye, Swiss cheese, lettuce, no tomato. In other words: my Nana’s favorite sandwich.

As I took the first bite, I could hear her in my head, complaining: “Excuse me, but I like a little tuna with my mayonnaise.” “You call this lettuce? This is a limp dishrag!”

I finished the sandwich in a few minutes, but Nana stayed with me for the rest of the day. She wasn’t just particular about tuna salad; being picky was one of her hallmarks. I still remember…

Sometimes, a tuna sandwich can be a more than a tuna sandwich.

Now it’s time to find your own tuna sandwich story. Pick a random fact about your day, any fact – what color socks you wore, how you found your lost cellphone in the butter dish, how many times you hit “snooze” this morning. Anything, as long as it doesn’t seem that interesting.

Once you’ve settled on a sufficiently mundane fact, ask yourself some questions to see where you can take it. Our uninspired tuna blogger might have asked:

  • Why was I in such a rush this morning?
  • I never eat tuna for lunch. Why not? Why did I pick it today?
  • Did I like that tuna? Why not? Would grilled cheese have been better?
  • Why do I like my tuna light on the mayo? Where did that come from?

The goal is to get past the specifics into the story behind it – the why. It’s the why that will transform your fact into a story. Ask the right questions and Wham!, Nana’s in the room. (Metaphorically speaking.)

Need more of a boost? Start writing about your fact. Then, fill in details. What was I doing in the morning? Where did I find my shoes? What’s my normal lunch? What was the name of the deli? Where was it? Did I see anyone I knew there? How much money did I spend? Don’t just tell readers about your fact, show them. Fill out the scene. You’ll probably find that this gets things flowing, and you can dig into one of the details to flesh out your post.

Here are a few WordPressers who’ve done a great job going from mundane to meaningful:

  • Sweet Mother takes us from her morning slice of toast and coffee to her great grandmother’s elegant taste in shoes.
  • LostnChina traces her entire romantic history through gifts she’s received, starting with a lemon peeler.
  • A Rich, Full Life in Spite of It explores how her friends’ potluck contributions mirror their personalities, inspired by a cryptic note she found on her iPhone.
  • Shan’s Shenanigans “borrowed” a pair of her mother’s pants and used the experience to meditate on the lies children tell.

You might also want to revisit some relevant Daily Post tips:

Ready, set, go!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this. I’m mulling already. (Mulling as in: ponder, and mulling as in: to heat, sweeten, and flavor with spices.) Will tag it when it’s done.

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  2. I ended up writing a similar post before reading this challenge! Sometimes what’s most important is to be passionate about your own writing, and after that the content doesn’t matter as much.

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    1. Hello I have signed on to your site and think you have a very interesting story about Knight Pu-rhe tea .I really did enjoy reading about it and your personal story also maybe I can help get your tea recognized here in America .You and your family stay healthy Rebecca and Thank You for that story. You may , if you will send prices and details to my email. rbarksdale@mymillionairepeeeps.com .

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  3. Sounds like a great way to stretch those brain muscles..I’m in and yes do we tag it #dpchalllenge or dpchallenge?

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  4. Sounds like fun! Bear with me, I’m over 65 and getting more tech savvy. Looking forward to sharing all my thoughts with each of you!
    _SimpleFran
    Politics Straight and to the POINT people!!

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  5. Nice idea for those of us who get “blogger’s block.” I guess I’m lucky–I do a daily news analysis for Hawaii Island and have a lot of material to use. So, I rarely have nothing to discuss or answer for. I keep a notebook full of ideas, press releases, and reader suggestions. A valuable tool for the blogger in each of us is a regular schedule or time to write. I don’t consider my daily blog an ordeal–a madhouse, yes, but never a dull task. I follow this sage advice from an old news man: “It could be worse–I could be organized.”

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  6. Hey everyone – just checked out all the posts that have been tagged so far, and loving your stories! Keep ’em coming.

    If you’ve got ideas for a challenge topic, be sure to let us know. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to tackle in your blogging, there are probably other folks who’d like to as well.

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    1. I saw this post a few days ago in my RSS feed (and linked in the WP.com footer) and was really bummed when it turned up a 404 page. Glad to see it live finally; I think this will be a fun writing exercise to participate in.

      Looking forward to future challenges!

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  7. Hello all, as a new blogger, a grand total of seven posts so far, I have to admit I don’t really know what I’m doing. So I have tagged the post for Mundane to Meaningful with Dpchallenge and posted the short link here. http://wp.me/p2AtOu-1K Should it turn out, (and it probably will) that I am being a Muppet and have it all wrong would one of you kind veterans please shout at me as you see fit

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