I'm coming up to my 5th anniversary of blogging and looking at my stats, I've written around 150 posts per year for most of that time, although in 2010 I "only" wrote 102 posts, possibly because one or two other things happened in my life. So many people tell me they want to blog, or they have a blog but can't find the time to write, that I thought I'd try to give some pointers for those resolving to blog this New Year.
Perfectionism is Poison
If you're a regular reader here, then you'll know that I tend to blog in a fairly short form, which is what makes 2-3 posts per week quite manageable - it is literally the same block of time as I need to write an email. I hate to admit it since I'm an editor on other sites, but my posts usually get little or no proofreading! Since this is a personal site, I just want to get my thoughts recorded and I try not to get dragged into endless editing and improving, because I would never publish. If you go back to the oldest posts on this site, you'll also see that I've got much better at writing over the five years, possibly because of the hundreds of blog posts I used to practice!
Write for Yourself
This is the key for me. I joke that I use my blog instead of a brain, but that's not too far from the truth! I started blogging because I changed jobs relatively often and kept losing my "useful scripts" directory with each job move. So instead of putting text files in a directory, I started putting code samples into a blog, with the intention that I'd be able to find them later. I still blog this way, things I want to remember, stuff that I want to tell people about events that I'm going to, and so on. I have no idea why so many people read the things I write but I hope they find value here.
The flip-side of this is that although I am a statistics nut and watch my google analytics stats quite closely, I don't really write for that purpose. I blog to publicly "remember" things, and the site doesn't make money at all so it doesn't make any difference to me whether I see 100 hits or 1000 hits on any given day. I am interested about what brings in the traffic, because it tells me when topics are of interest in the industry, but I usually only write posts about things other than what I am actively working on if someone asks me to do so (requests always welcome).
I don't remember where I first saw this piece of advice but the more I write (and I now write for a living, some of the time), the more true it seems. The only way to be a writer is to show up and write. For blogging, this is equally true. Unless you capture ideas for posts, then set aside time to express your thoughts on that topic, this is an insurmountable task. My process looks something like this:
- If, at any time, you have an idea for a blog post, save a draft or write the idea down
- If you have a spare 20 minutes (for me that's usually in the morning while I'm eating my breakfast and checking up on things), then write. Even if you get halfway though and save it as draft, start writing
- When you write the last word, press publish. Because you could spend the same amount of time again, but would it be twice as good?
Happy New Year
Whatver your New Year's resolutions, good luck sticking to them! I wish all of you health and happiness for 2011.