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Five Blogcraft Projects for New Bloggers

Five Fingers?

Blogging can be hard.  Sometimes you don’t know what to say or how to say it.  Some days you shoot a zillion images, and you just can’t bear to do something comprehensive.  Maybe, you just don’t know where to start.  You might just not be “feelin’ it” one afternoon.  Here’s five fun “blogcraft activities” that and that are pretty fun and easy to do when you’re stuck:

#1 Share Your Place

We’re all in different places right now.  Normally, we have the Evergreen campus as a place of reference, a common experience.  Use images to make your new place part of our extended, distributed “place.”  Are there LCD taxi horses, gender-segregated parking lots, or tetrapod beaches in your new hood?  Sharing even the tiniest detail can get you connected to your project and keep us all connected together as a learning community.

#2 Opinionate! Opinionate! Opinionate!

Consider this a relaxation/stress relief exercise.  Stretch your opinions a bit.

Say there’s a terrible piece of Andy Warhol-inspired street art in your Field Study site.  Let loose your irritation, people will relate to it.  Exorcise it and move on.  These should be short and to the point. Brevity is the soul of wit.

#3 Find a Goofy/Novel/Macabre Theme and Run With It

This is a good way to make a whole bunch of fun posts.  Early on in your Field Study you find some quirky thing about your museum and you post about it a lot.  This thing should evoke, and maybe be a little strange.

My theme for a while was “severed heads”.  Every time I find one in a museum, I shoot it, do a little research, write about it.  Little things like this keep people coming back.  They want to know what the next one in the series will be like.  Maybe you’re at a zoo.  Once a week, maybe you post an image of the weirdest thing from the cafeteria and review it.

This is also a good way to show how Flickr can work for you.  All my severed heads are in a set together.

#4 Peggy’s Musings

When I was on my ILC in Thailand, I kept sections in my notebook for musings.  Some were about language, some were about food, some were about insects, some were about music.  Let these things accumulate, like a hairball, and then unwrap the hairball and lay out the strands. Weave them back into something.  They don’t have to thesis, but they should illustrate relevant streams of thought.  Calling out a post as a musing is giving yourself license to think, publicly, to share those loose thoughts that you might have in the shower.  Stretch out your writer’s voice.

For example, I was inspired by a Thai art book I found in my friend’s bathroom to ramble about Thai and American curatorial/exhibition organizational methods.  It’s not a great piece of writing, but it helped me get past some writer’s block.

#5  Make a Movie Out of Something (An Object?) That is Not a Movie

A few years back art writer Tyler Green threw out a challenge to other arts bloggers to make their top five paintings into movies.  I ran away with it.  It’s some of the best fun I’ve had online.

This “blogcraft project” has two parts.

Part One.  present an image of the object and some background, maybe just a sentence or two.  If it’s in a museum, you can use the text from their site to get you started.

Part Two. “realize” the movie.  This part of the recipe has two ingredients.  The first one is presenting a short narrative based on the object, or featuring the object, or making the image contained in the object come to life.  The second ingredient is to contextualize the narrative.  Is it a noir film?  A documentary?  Is it a B movie?  Anime?  Horror?  Dramedy?

Put the pieces together and you’ve probably magnetized your readers with a good story.

Hopefully, the above creative blogging exercises might get you started, or get you out of a rut. Blog early, and blog often!

One Response to “Five Blogcraft Projects for New Bloggers”

  1. Sarah Williams wrote:

    Thanks Marshall. Here’s another technique and examples from a recent post by Sophie, an TESC student doing an ILC in China this quarter. It’s a form of blog writing based on impression or gesture drawings. sw

    Bhava Caminante

    Chicken in a Box

    Posted: 12 Feb 2012 03:03 PM PST

    There is an exercise done in many art classes with a live model who will change poses about every 45 seconds, and the students complete what are called “impression drawings” or “gesture drawings” from these very quick moments. The idea is to capture the “essence” of the model, the energy of the posture. By moving in such quick succession of 45-second intervals, the analytic mind doesn’t really have time to kick in and judge, criticize, or even question; you only have enough time for acceptance.
    This can be a useful exercise in traveling, too. And while I’ve done my fair share and maybe more of analyzing and comparing, questioning and perhaps more judging than I would have liked, I’ve also truly enjoyed and reveled in the wonderful strangeness and fleeting moments of simple being. So for this post, I’m drawing a few impressions from my time in China.
    On the flight from Guangzhou to Kunming, I am reading China’s newspaper written in English, when the flight attendant rolls by and asks me, “Chicken or pork?” and I am glad that I let go of my exclusively vegetarian ways a few months back because I am getting the feeling that that would not fly here.
    zai jensuo (at the Clinic)
    I am sitting behind Dr. Huang Pu’s desk in an office that is about 4ft x 6ft; there is a patient sitting in a chair adjacent to me, with her wrists exposed on a pillow on his desk. The girl’s boyfriend and mother are standing behind her, and behind them are about 10 other people waiting to be seen by the doctor. They are sitting, leaning against the wall, on their phones, and walking in and out of the office. They are peering over the current patient’s shoulder, and looking somewhat curiously at Andreas, Liu Jin (our teacher/translator) and I. Patients wander in and out of the offices, interrupting with questions, and dropping their history books as a form of waiting their turn. As it becomes clear that these people are not part of the patient’s family, but other patients waiting to be treated, we are perplexed for a moment or two, and then chuckle to ourselves at the thought of the closed doors of doctors’ offices in the West. There isn’t even a door to close in any of the herbal doctors’ offices at the clinic in Kunming.
    In another doctor’s office, a mother brings in her 5 month old daughter looking for an herbal prescription after returning from the hospital where the baby received intravenous antibiotics (I cringe at how often this happens). When the baby gets anxious enough to begin crying, mom flips open her Smartphone and plays a cartoon on the screen which captures the baby’s attention so completely and quickly that I swear the tear stopped mid-roll down her cheek. It’s a strange juxtaposition of this old traditional medicine and this new-fangled technology. And then the next patient walks in.
    I get caught in a little language trip at the clinic when I realize that the doctor is speaking in Chinese, Liu Jin translates into English and Andreas is taking notes in German.
    We take a quick tour around the pharmacy at the clinic. But this is not at all reminiscent of Walgreens. Yes, there is a counter where patients bring their prescriptions, and there are pharmacists who go behind the counter and bring out the medicine requested, but the similarities end there. The prescriptions are a hand written recipe, specifically for the individual patient- a list of herbs and their amounts in grams to be measured and combined by the pharmacist, wrapped up in brown paper and given to the patient with instructions on how to boil the remedy, for how long, and how much and how often to drink it. There are three walls of drawers behind the pharmacy counter inside of which contain everything from chrysanthemum to donkey skin, turtle shell, scorpion, sandalwood and almond. I tasted the donkey skin. It tasted like donkey skin.
    -> I am reminded of a passage in Ballentine’s Radical Healing, in which he gives a homeopathic remedy to a woman with breathing problems and control issues. When she is pleased at how well it works, she asks him if she can give the remedy to her son, who also has asthma. He responds by saying, “The remedy isn’t for asthma… it’s for YOU.”
    When the doctor asks the patient how their appetite is, they measure in bowls of rice. Andreas, who is from Italy, turns to me and says, “In Italy, they would be measuring in pizzas.” I think… how do we measure appetite in the U.S.? In Big-Macs, or calories, in grams of fat or carbs or protein? Is that even a measure of appetite, or is it a measure of self control, or self worth?
    A woman walks into Dr. Yang’s office, sits down, and even though it’s not her turn, she says she doesn’t want to wait. He asks her what her symptoms are. She pulls up her sleeve, places her wrist on the pillow on his desk, and says, “Feel my pulse, and you tell me what’s wrong.”
    Sitting in the waiting area of the clinic, there is a man across the hallway with a 2ft x 2ft x 1ft box at his feet. There are small squares cut out of the sides. And a rooster’s beak pokes out.


    Monday, February 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

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