The Craft of blogging (5) … How I write my blog slowly

We all blog in our own way I’m sure, but writing a blogpost for me is not very different from any other writing: fiction, short fiction and non-fiction. I know that I need to think about purpose, audience and my main points. And I need to draft it and revise it and revise it again several times. This post is for bloggers who want to think about the process of writing a good post.

People who know me will not be surprised to read that I plan ahead. I have a flexible schedule for my posts that currently takes me to mid-November. I have recently learned that I am a ‘slow-blogger’. This means that I only post about every 5 or 6 days, not every day. (For more on slow blogging you could read the NY Times article: Haste, Scorned: Blogging at a snail’s pace.) Apparently the normal pace is to post every day. I don’t think I have bookish things to write every day. I’m going for quality on this blog. And sometimes I need to write the damn things!

Here is my typical process to write a blogpost.

Stage 1. It starts with a bright idea.

I keep a bright ideas file. Sometimes the ideas for a topic are triggered by events: for example the centenary of World War I was the original idea behind my next post on women war poets. Or I might just get an idea when I’m out walking. Or I read a book I would like to tell people about.

114 ScheduleStage 2. Scheduling.

I usually have two or three posts on the go, the closer to scheduled publication date the more advanced the post. I try to include a book review about every three weeks or so, including one that features older women in fiction every two months. The next one of these is on the schedule for mid-August: All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville West. Some posts are scheduled to coincide with events: such as the publication of our book. It’s mostly very flexible, so I can respond to things quickly, even if I am a slow blogger.

Stage 3. Scavenging.

As the publication date approaches I collect material: my own notes on a book, a review I have read, related articles, links, leaflets, and I often jot down notes on scraps of paper which go into the files.

Stage 4. Now comes the writing.

I usually start with a rough outline based on the main points I want to make. Then I draft the post in full, revise and revise and revise. And I decide on the tags that I will use to attract a readership to the post. If I am writing collaboratively I will often have noted the main points during a conversation. For some reason these often happen on a train. I send the draft to my collaborator and she returns it with revisions and so on.

114 ResearchStage 5. Researching.

I like this stage. It’s like scavenging but with more purpose. I often need to take photographs for the post: book covers, poppies, places associated with my topic. I look for links, other reviews, relevant articles, associated websites. This activity often runs parallel to the writing.

Stage 6. Final polish.

I read the piece aloud, check for directness, humour, opportunities to be generous where I can (this is a feature of blogging I especially like), where I need to avoid being too clever. I am looking for the hook, the call to arms. I’m using the checklist I described in a previous post in this series: my checklist for blogposts.

Stage 7. Publish and promote.

I press the PUBLISH and subscribers receive an email alert of the new post. I also use Twitter to promote the new post. Then I check on Google Analytics for number of times the page is read. It’s hard not to be addicted to those Google Analytic stats. Even harder to keep away from the real time stats.

77 laptopStage 8. Respond to comments.

Another pleasure is reading responses to the blogpost. Some are from loyal readers, others from blow-ins (That’s not intended to be a rude phrase). The thousands of spam comments are filtered out by a widget, thank goodness.

So lots of planning, outlining, researching, redrafting and revising. Just like any other writing. And to finish here’s a summary of Olivia Fine’s wise advise – Essential Blogger’s Tips from the British Library website. (You can find the link to the full version here.)

  1. Be yourself
  2. Address the reader
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Include pictures
  5. Can you skim read it?

Have any of you bloggers noticed you do things differently? Do you have any comments on my process. Any tips for me or others?


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Filed under The Craft of Blogging, Writing

6 Responses to The Craft of blogging (5) … How I write my blog slowly

  1. Eileen

    A fascinating account. I like how you have defined clearly each of the stages. All good stuff for writers whatever their focus. I think the pictures are really important to illustrate your blogs and often you have a very witty way of including them. I like that.
    I think you show such a commitment to the writing process that you post every five or six days and you don’t need to tell us that it is quality that you are after.
    Well done.

  2. Interesting to read more about your blogging process, Caroline. I didn’t know that the “normal” blogging frequency was daily – that’s far too often for me, not just as the writer but as a reader, too. It’s hard enough keeping up with blogs and it is.
    I think I take a hybrid approach to blogging: like you, I have a stock of posts in various stages of drafting, as I like to get my thoughts down close enough to when they strike me, particularly now I’m doing much more book reviews. But I’ll sometimes write and post on the same day, especially if there is a topical issue right can link it to. I post anywhere between 3 and seven days.
    I was interested in the range of different responses when I did a post on putting out something I thought might not be good enough:
    I think one of the great things is that we can all do it our own way, although it’s important to take note of feedback from readers. I’m curious to see what other people will make this.

  3. Whoops! Though I carefully proof read my own posts I’m much more slapdash when I comment: “much more book reviews” isn’t very grammatical and “topical issue right” is evidence of my voice-activated software having a mind of its own. Let’s hope it raises a laugh rather than a grunt of disapproval!

    • Caroline

      I’m always in too much hurry to check my comments on other blogs too! Thanks for these thoughts. I always find your blog posts very interesting, well thought out and stimulating. And your comments wise.
      I admire you for working so close to your deadline. Perhaps I’m too keen to avoid all typos and other mistakes to take the risk of not polishing the post.
      How how have you got into more book reviewing?

  4. Anna

    I like your approach. Seems to work really well for you and good for others to see how it could work. I also like all the files, notes and stickies that you employ! I really like this, from your blog, as a short list for inviting, authentic blogging.
    Be yourself
    Address the reader
    Keep it simple
    Include pictures
    Can you skim read it?

    • Caroline

      Thanks Anna. I should follow that list of advice more strictly perhaps! But it works well as general guidance I think!
      Stationery was invented for bloggers like me!
      And you taught me so much as well, of course.

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