This morning I am trying to knock a post out quickly before “Rainmageddon” gets here. While I don’t really believe it the neighbor across the street said we are likely to get “ten inches” of rain during the course of the day. That would be absolutely insane. My wife’s theory however is that she just misheard and the news actually said “two inches”. In any case starting at noon today we are likely not going to want to be out in the world. This is awesome because it means I can binge on video games. What is not so awesome is the fact that I need to get a post out quickly rather than my normal lazy Saturday and Sunday posting schedule. So I have a video game soundtrack on to block out the world, and am in beast mode! Sadly my beast mode is more like a sleepy kitten, but in any case… I am making things happen! For those curious I am listening to the State of Decay soundtrack that is available on Google Play.
Normally Storytime Saturday is the day when I tell you some tale about myself, and I try really hard to make it one I have not already told. The problem there is that I have shared so many intimate details of my life with you all, and that I have zero recollection of what I say on any given day. Hell there are days I get to work and I will see entire sections of a post that I don’t remember writing. In the spirit of the Newbie Blogger Initiative this mornings “Storytime” is more than likely going to be a free form rambling mess as I share indiscriminant tips and tricks I have learned over the years. The key to thriving as a blog is to be predictable in your posting schedule, and in order to make this happen it means you need to set aside specific blocks of time to write. How big of a block of time depends entirely on the style of post you make. When I write a post that requires lots of research those are usually done over the course of several days, with me keeping notes in a Google drive document. My “normal” style of posting however takes anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour of me sitting down at the keyboard and physically writing it out.
Finding Your Time
When I launched this blog in 2009 I spent a lot of my lunch hours writing posts. For the most part this worked great because it was a fixed block of time when I was not really doing anything else. The problem is as work got busier, and I started actually going out for lunch… my noon writing block evaporated. There were more than a few days when I was working on a problem that I could not set down long enough to write a post, and by the time whatever had been fixed… I was usually too drained mentally to produce something worth reading. I wont say this was the reason behind some of my larger lapses but it was certainly a contributing factor. When I started on my “Grand Experiment” I knew I was going to have to figure out something else to do. I had gotten in the habit of going upstairs with my morning coffee and piddling around in a video game for thirty minutes to an hour before actually going into work. This “boot up” time greatly improved my cognitive ability by the time I got to work, so it was actually something that turned out to be pretty beneficial.
When finding your own block of time you have to evaluate your own schedule. Where is a block that you are doing something every single day, or every few days… that you could tweak a bit to turn that into a time to write your blog posts? For me I happily sacrificed my morning game time in an effort to give myself a regular place to write words and things. This however has been a double edged sword. I literally cannot start my day without writing a blog post, and the days when I have to do something differently and stage the post the night before… I feel like something is off the entire day. I have incorporated this writing phase into my morning boot up routine and when it is missing, I am just not fully functional. Additionally the problem of writing while you are not entirely awake means sometimes entire blocks of text don’t really make much sense. Thankfully the frequency of my posting makes up for some of this. When you are posting every single day, your readers cut you a lot more slack for having an “off day”.
Keep a Contract
The other nice fringe benefit of morning writing is that you feel like you have accomplished some thing. No matter how south the rest of the day turns, you will have at least had a tiny victory that morning. For years my wife has done something that I just did not understand until I looked at my own blogging. When we clean the house we usually divide and conquer, meaning I take certain rooms and she takes certain rooms. One of the rooms she always wants to do is the Bathroom and I have never understood why she tackles it first thing. She has always said it made her feel like she had accomplished something, and I guess in a way gets those good vibe endorphins flowing making the rooms that are more painful a little easier to do. I can definitely see this whole process working because I absolutely see these same kind of benefits with my own blog posts. No matter how frustrating the rest of the day is… I at least accomplished writing another post and I continued the chain of daily postings by one more day.
Whatever your block or your schedule I think the absolute most important thing is to treat it like a contract. It becomes extremely easy to give yourself an excuse for not writing one day, that turns into not writing for an entire month. Before I ventured down the path of daily writing there were so many times when I told myself “I just am not feeling it” and let myself off the hook without writing a post. Then as months went by of “not feeling it” it became harder to actually start the process again. In order to keep a schedule you need a certain amount of rigor in your life, and a willingness to sacrifice other things to make sure the ball keeps moving forward. I know this might sound like an odd statement, especially for something that we all consider a hobby. The problem is you can’t really treat it like a hobby and achieve the predictable regularity that your readers will want. In many was blogging is a second job, admittedly one you do out of love… but there still needs to be some constraints on your time. At this point I have blogged every single day for over two years… so I have this pressure built up in NOT missing a single day. I have motivation to keep going, and keep writing… and I think it is this motivation that you have to find for yourself.