“I hate writing, but I love having written.”
Are any of the following familiar?
- You sit down to write, but can’t think of anything to write about
- You have plenty of blogging ideas, but the words to express the ideas won’t flow
- You start to write a post, but scrap it because you don’t think it’s good enough
- You let other things distract you while writing which keeps you from finishing
They’re all familiar to me. What do you do when blogging becomes difficult? What do you do to get the creative juices flowing again?
If you’ve been reading here for awhile you’ve likely noticed I haven’t been posting as regularly as I used to or would like to. Other projects and client work have taken precedence at times and the only way to get both done was to let this blog slide a bit here and there. The more often I let it slide the easier it becomes to let it slide again the next time and the easier it is to lose the flow of my blogging routine.
So what’s a blogger to do?
For this blogger the solution is to implement a process of planning prior to writing.
Blogging From An Assembly Line
For most of the time I’ve been blogging my process has been very simple. Early in the week or over the weekend I think about what I’d like to blog about during the week. When it’s posting day I pick one of those ideas and go. Not exactly the most formal process I admit, but I suspect many of you blog in much the same way.
You get an idea, open up your favorite blogging application, write the post, and publish it. Then you wait for the next idea to come. Sound familiar?
Sometimes, though, the idea that sounds good in your head on Monday doesn’t sound as good when you’re writing the post on Tuesday. Maybe you lost a few points that you didn’t write down when they first came to mind or as you got into the post you realize you didn’t have as much to say about the topic as you originally thought. Sometimes the ideas don’t come at all.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
When 2008 began I set out three major goals I wanted to accomplish before the calendar changed to 2009. One of these three goals was to change my process for blogging. I want to migrate from the haphazard process I’ve been using toward something more like an assembly line. I’ve finally managed to get the process started, but I expect it will take some time before I’m used to it as part of my usual routine.
I’ll share more details once I’ve put it all in place and proven to myself that it will work as I hope, but I’d like to share the gist of what I’m trying to do in case you like the idea and would like to run with it as well.
The process I’m envisioning is a blogging assembly line. A successful post has several components working together. An idea, a post title, links to external resources, links to internal resources, specific points you want to make, a target audience, relevant quotes, relevant images, etc.
Instead of hoping to find many of the above while writing my goal is to collect some of the components over time. I’ve set up a spreadsheet in Excel (though recording notes in a notebook may work just as well) with different components of a post as column headings and the plan is to fill the columns in over time. At the same time I’ll make notes and an outline for writing the post.
Ultimately with an outline and different components in place I’ll sit down and write the post. Call it a focused swipe file if you will.
Why An Assembly Line Process Will Lead To Better Blogging
The main goal of an assembly line is efficiency and that’s exactly what I’m looking for with this process. On average it takes me between two and three hours to write a post, which only allows creation of so many posts in a given week or month. I’d like to produce more here and have posts at the ready for guest blogging opportunities.
An assembly line will allow for batch processing. You can spend a day brainstorming post ideas and another day researching ideas and collecting resources. Keeping your mind focused on one task at a time should lead to an increase in overall efficiency.
I think it will also lead to higher quality posting. Posts would have time to be refined as opposed to being published just to fit a schedule. Idea would have time to germinate into posts instead of being forced to grow in an instant.
Ideally this process will allow me to create more posts than I need to publish here and allow some posts to be stored in a blog bank for future use.
Sounds Good, But Will Assembly Line Blogging Really Work?
I’d like to tell you it will, but as I’m only beginning the conversion to an assembly line process I can’t honestly guarantee success. I suspect for some this wouldn’t work at all, but I imagine for many more it would. I’m convinced once put in place it will work for me.
It’s only the beginning stages and I know I’ll need to refine the process. At the moment I’ve gotten as far as setting up a spreadsheet in Excel and transferring many of the random notes I’ve made to the spreadsheet. I’ve spent a day brainstorming ideas and filling in a few notes for some of those ideas, but none has reached a point where the it’s time to write them up as posts.
It will probably take a few months before I’m creating posts from this assembly line of ideas and notes. I do want to keep the blog running and until I can make a complete switch I’ll need to work off the old haphazard process at the same time.
Hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to revisit this idea and tell you how much it’s helped me. Assuming it does I’ll share the refined pricess and offer a an Excel file to download if I’m still using one. Until then wish me luck.
Are you a haphazard blogger or do you have a process in place for writing posts? If you do have a process in place to make you more efficient please share. I’d love to hear your ideas and I think others here would as well.