My occasional and sporadic posts about blogging are often promoted by questions people ask me.
Last year I did think I might write regular monthly posts about blogging and self-employment. Seeing as I’ve been doing it for nearly 10 years I do know a thing or two about it.
Well, obviously I didn’t write a post a month. The reason is that it seems to be one of those things where I don’t realise what I know until someone asks me about it.
I always liked to write, but I sort of fell into blogging by accident, and I’m just making it up as I go along. There’s no blogging degree or established career path to follow, so it just sort of happens.
Anyway, recently I have been asked a couple of blogging questions that have made me realise I have knowledge that could be useful. So expect a couple more posts to pop up! Todays’ post is about HOW I write. A friend asked me how I managed to write regularly and avoid procrastinating, which made me sit down and think about my process.
The fact is, it’s really hard.
I’ve been writing on this blog for nearly 10 years, and sometimes I feel like I’ve said EVERYTHING that could ever possibly be said about any topics even vaguely related. Then other times I have a rush of ideas for posts that all come at once. When that happens I better make sure I write those ideas down immediately, or text them to myself or put them in my notes or something, because no matter how good they are I will instantly forget them.
When it comes to HOW I write, how I actually sit down and get words on screen without procrastinating and folding the laundry, or doing the hoovering, well, sometimes that’s just as hard. The fact is I don’t always. Sometimes I spend a LOT of time procrastinating before I actually sit down and write a blog post.
For me the biggest motivator is a deadline. I’ve always been the kind of person who will leave everything to the last-minute. My essays at university were always written in a panic at 10pm the night before submission day. If I simply waited till I had an amazing idea and the urge to write, this blog would be very empty indeed.
The simplest deadline is a posting schedule. I set myself a schedule to post not just 3 times a week, but on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (plus Sundays “This Week I….” posts). Additionally I set 3pm as the latest a post should go up on that day.
Often this means I end up writing and taking photos for blog posts in the morning of the day a post goes live. That’s just the way I deal with deadlines, and I actually quite like it most of the time. It can, however, be super stressful, especially if something happens on a posting morning that means I can’t devote the time to it. So, recently I have been trying to set myself additional deadlines. I aim to have the following days post written by 5pm the night before. It doesn’t always work, my head KNOWS that the real deadline is 3pm the following day and it won’t be tricked! It does, however, mean that I’ve often at least made a start, which reduces stress on posting days.
Sitting and staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to come can be one of the most difficult things about blogging. My solution to making myself sit down and write that post when I don’t necessarily feel like I have that perfect idea is simply just to write.
I don’t set myself a time limit. I just sit in front of that screen, pick a topic, and start writing. I’ll brain dump whatever is in my head or I’ll pick a blog post title from a list and start writing about it. I sometimes start in the middle because I don’t know how to start it. Or I start with an introductory paragraph that then fizzles out into nothing. The drafts folder of my Admin panel is littered with bones of posts that never were.
I’m particularly picky with myself and second guess blog posts a lot. I’ll question whether it’s interesting or why anyone would care? Then invariably I’ll open Bloglovin’ 3 weeks later and find someone else has written about something similar and everyone LOVES it.
Sometimes I’ll go back over the bones of those old blog posts and craft them into an amazing post about, er, shoes or something. Other times scrolling back through the discarded titles will spark another idea.
Giving in to Procrastination
You know, it all sounds a bit artsy fartsy, but writing isn’t like working on a production line. Sometimes you have to miss a deadline. If you’re missing them all the time, then that’s a problem, but the occasional, once in a blue moon, missed deadline isn’t the end of the world. Especially if they’re just deadlines you set yourself!
If you’re sat in front of the screen trying to force the words to come and you’re about to start tearing out your hair, then give up. Give into procrastination and go and fold the laundry. Or go out for a coffee, or a walk around the block. Think about something different and then come back later and start again.
Sometimes you never know what will suddenly spark that idea and make you feel fresh and motivated again. The beauty of being self-employed is that I can manage my own schedule. This means I can spend my afternoons watching Buffy if I like and then go back to writing at 7pm if that works better for me!
The last thing I do that helps me write regularly, is to make sure I spend time reading. Reading other people who write the same sort of stuff that I want to write, reading people who write completely different stuff, and reading about my industry and blogging.
I follow people on Bloglovin’ to read blogs, and I use Pinterest and Facebook to source interesting articles to read. I also read fiction books by writers I love, and occasionally I’ll even buy an over-priced magazine that can kick off some ideas for posts (sometimes about how over-priced magazines are).
So that is what you might laughably call my writing process. Shared in the hope it may help someone, somewhere, just sit down and write.