During a recent Blogchat Twitter chat, the subject of the blog post writing process came up and gave bloggers a chance to give a glimpse of how they blog.
When people find out I’ve been grinding out daily posts for more than five years, they will often ask about my writing process.
I don’t mind the questions, but I always try to add a little caveat before I answer.
During a recent Blogchat, a live chat conducted on Twitter Sunday nights at 9:00pm Eastern, those questions came up during a group discussion.
The consensus seemed to be that it take anywhere from an hour or two up to three-and-a-half hours to complete a post.
One of the first things I said in response to that is that because I have a journalism background, I’ve just learned to write fast. To that, another participant said their background is in a different field, so they can’t write that fast.
Here’s an important point about the writing process.
It doesn’t, hasn’t, and never will work the same way for everyone.
I tend to write fast. Others don’t. But as long as all of us write as well as we can, it makes absolutely zero difference between what I write and what you write. The object of the exercise is to communicate with your audience by delivering quality content.
If it takes me two hours to write a post that informs or entertains and it takes you four hours to write the same post, we’ve both accomplished the same mission.
That’s why, when I answer a question about my writing process, I like to remind people that their mileage will vary and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
My writing process is supposed to be different. Yours is, too.
Here’s what my blog post writing process looks like.
I like to think about a post a while before I actually begin writing it. If I have an idea for a post, I’ll try to craft a headline first.
I’m not committing myself to that headline: it’s just something that helps me remember at least the initial direction in which I think I’ll be going. If the post was inspired by another blog post or a news story, I’ll throw that link into the draft so I can find it again easier.
If I have an initial line or two that comes to mind immediately, I’ll type it up and save the draft.
Then I try to move on to a different post or even a different task.
Somewhere, in the back of my brain, there is a small cluster of gray matter that starts processing the information and my thoughts on it. I can’t describe adequately how I do it, but that’s how I do things. I guess my brain is able to multitask that way. I may let it simmer for a few hours or even a few days. I don’t consciously devote a lot of time to those ideas, but subconsciously, there’s usually something churning.
So whenever I sit down and open that draft and start actually writing, there’s usually additional thoughts I’ve worked out that I can work with.
When I sit down to write the actual post, it generally takes me an hour or so. But I’ve been pondering the topic, off and on, for several hours before that.
There have been times when I’ve been fired up enough about a topic to bang out a post from scratch within an hour. Those posts, fortunately, seem to do just as well as posts I’ve spent more time on, but that may be because those “fast” posts have a bit more passion where the “slow” posts have a bit better organization.
As a general rule, the post I write at that time is, for the most part, the post you see. I’m not a big fan of first, second and third drafts. I tend to write better by assuming the first draft is the final draft, then making one pass to clean up and clarify what I wrote. I realize that’s not how most people write. It just happens to be the way that seems to work best for me.
Again, your mileage will vary.
My best advice to you, fellow blogger, is to take all of that with a grain of salt. What works for me may not work for you at all. And what may end up working for you might well be something I could never accomplish.
One of the participants, for example, said she has a process that keeps her a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. The most I’ve been able to get ahead was 14 days. Once.
There have been a few times recently that I’ve been able to get 10 posts ahead.
Usually, I’m struggling to get three posts ahead.
I’m working on that consistency because I think it’s important. I’m working to get further ahead regularly because I think your content is always better if you have another chance or two to give it one more look before it actually publishes.
Short of that, I have to make sure I’m producing the best content I can, no matter how much or how little time I have for that second look.
An active blog, after all, is always a work in progress.
What does your writing process look like at your blog?
Now that I’ve shared mine, I’d love to hear how you blog. How long does does it take you to write a post? How many times do you edit or re-edit? And how far ahead do you generally stay?