[beginner + intermediate] When you search for material to write about, do you bookmark stories of interest? If so, do you use folders, or even nested folders? Do you apply any structure to your folder scheme?
For power blogging like Om Malik and others, knowing more than you write is wise advice. The best summaries come from reading as much as you can on a topic and condensing it into a single post. Not easy if you’ve never done it before, but you can turn it into habit. Here are a few suggestions:
- Get the right tools:
- Use Firefox. They’ve got a great bookmarking system, and you can “bookmark all [open] tabs” in one fell swoop.
- Get the All-in-One Sidebar plugin for Firefox and keep it open to the bookmarks. It’ll appear at left of your browser window.
- When you browse with your fave RSS reader (e.g., Bloglines, Newsgator Online Edition, or Google Reader), you can drag and drop links of headlines into your folders.
- Browse through your feed subscriptions and save links into a single bookmark folder. The overall objective is to collect more than one link for each topic so that your summaries have depth.
- When you’ve collected links, you can start grouping them in a single pass:
- In your current “check this” (or whatever) folder, create some nested folders: trash, later.
- Now, as you click on each bookmark and glance at the web page, without reading the article past the headline and first paragraph, if you were to write the same thing, what would your post title be? Make a new sub-folder with that name (sibling folder to trash and later).
- Continue through the list until you’re finished, but if you come across a related piece to something you handled earlier, drop it into the existing folder. If there’s a bookmark that you can’t use, drop it into the trash folder. Or if you can’t think of an angle, put it into the later folder.
You now have the basis for writing a whole bunch of original summary articles. When you’re ready to write:
- For each story folder, browse or read each bookmarked page.
- Write a summary of each page, if necessary, or make a note in your mind of how that story differs.
- Write up a summary of the topic in your own words and link to your references in the body of your post.
This only one method I use to write summary posts, but I find it not only helps me structure my writing time but helps spark inspiration.