How I get time to blog as well as write

I’ve had this question from Cindy Richard: I have been toying with starting a blog because I would like to have a platform when I finally finish my novel. I am worried about having the mental energy for it, since I have a full-time job and am deep into writing my first novel. I have a great idea for how to focus my blog and what to write, but I am worried about starting it and then having it fizzle out because I don’t have the energy to give my best. Do you have any suggestions for making it more manageable starting out?

Great question. Here are my tips to make sure your blogging resolution doesn’t end up a sad forgotten thing, like December’s festive trees blowing down a January pavement.

Treat blogging as part of your writing work

You’ve probably got a routine for your writing – or you wouldn’t have got so far with your novel. Carve a little of that off for blogging. You can’t possibly steal more hours from the other things you have to do, so take it from your writing time.

I designate a day a week on which I am allowed to do blogging tasks – including posts, guest posts elsewhere, scheduling Undercover Soundtrack pieces. Even though those are written by guests, they are fiddly to publish. This all takes time and you need to schedule it properly so you make a good job of it.

Write a ton of posts in advance?

It’s not a bad idea to have posts prepared, but some people schedule months of them and leave the blog to fend for itself. I wouldn’t recommend that because when they end you’ll have to interrupt your writing schedule to cue up a load more – and that’s painful. It’s better to get into a regular routine.

If you do cue in advance, be prepared to rejig if you spot a trend you could post about. Often these gain more hits, more readers and more discussion.

Whatever else you do, answer comments ASAP. Blogs have to look alive and responsive – readers like contact and conversations.

Keep blogging time in check

Blogging is addictive. I could spend endless hours on design fiddles, tweaking widgets – as is probably evident in my greedy number of blogs (you’ve already seen this red one, and there’s also my website). It’s even worse when your blog is oh-gosh shiny and new. Aside from answering comments, don’t let yourself do blog stuff on other days.

Prevent blogging burnout

Many people start a blog and then find they run out of ideas. Find something you can genuinely talk about forever and you’ll never run dry. But more importantly…

Short is better

A lot of new bloggers try to cram too much into one post. Posts don’t have to be the definitive, exhaustive essay, unlike articles or reports outside of the blogoverse.

Nor does that make blog posts superficial. You can still be brilliant, useful, provocative, evocative – whatever you like – in 500 words or so.

And computer screens aren’t the easiest medium for reading – another reason why shorter posts are better.

If you think you can split a post in two, nobody minds that. The more times people come back to your blog, the more familiar they get with your blog furniture, your writing voice. That’s why people have favourite newspapers – they know where to find what they want, quickly.

And as I’ve already gone on too long, I’m going to take my own advice. I’ve got a list of fledgling bloggers’ mistakes – but that’s for another post.

In the meantime, tell me – how do you make time for blogging?

 

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  1. #1 by Rebeca Schiller on January 6, 2012 - 11:13 pm

    I try to blog 3 to 4 a times a week, but for a while I would lapse and then start again and it would be this endless pattern. What I resolved to do for 2012 was to write four posts and I have an editorial calendar. Mondays are for general blogs about my writing journey or whatever observation I might have about the craft and/or publishing business. Wednesdays, I try to review a book on craft. Fridays it’s all about grammar and Saturdays I have a Scrivener tutorial.
    So far so good. Dedicating those days to those topics gives me a lot of material to work with and I have to scratch my head and think “Uh, what am I going to write about today?”

    As for time to write, I have a very flexible schedule. I try to write my blog posts in the mornings so that gives me time to work on actual paying work assignments for the rest of the day and I write my novel in the evenings.

    • #2 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 10:29 am

      An editorial calendar – that’s a good idea. (And it’s what professional magazines do…) And I admire how prolific you are, Rebeca.

  2. #3 by Ruby Barnes on January 7, 2012 - 12:45 am

    Roz, I’ve been running a blog just since April 2011. I started with the intention of marketing my thrillers but it’s developed a life of its own with book reviews, true weird stories and stuff about ebook publishing and marketing (all the usual).
    I began by reading Kristen Lamb’s WANA which suggested to build up a store of blog posts and release them on a schedule. The approach I’ve taken is that I wait for my blog muse to strike. Sometimes that’s twice a week, sometimes every two weeks.
    The result – it does sometimes impact my novel writing but I’m getting a good number of people coming through the door. It’s fair to say that the majority of them are looking for pictures of elephants and not my novels or blog wisdom. That’s the beuty of SEO!
    Cheers
    Ruby

    • #4 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 10:34 am

      Hi Ruby! Sounds like you’re building an audience, which is what counts. Selling novels is nothing like selling a non-fiction book. It’s about creating a relationship so that people think ‘I like that Ruby’s blog, he’s interested in the same things as me’.

  3. #5 by Yesenia on January 7, 2012 - 3:34 am

    I agree with you. Blogging for the writer should be part of the writing work, especially in this day and age. A blog is imperative in getting your name out there and building your image.

    I had initially wanted to post three times a week but with a baby due any day now, I’m cutting back to one time a week along with revamping my blog. I think it had started out being about what I had to say. Now I’m learning that it’s about what I have to offer to others.

    Also, if something comes up and writing isn’t getting done, but the blog is getting attention…maybe some of that time should go towards writing. Both are important but writing even more so.

    • #6 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 10:35 am

      Crikey, Yesenia – you’re about to deliver and you still manage to blog? I take my hat off to you.

      • #7 by Yesenia on January 7, 2012 - 8:02 pm

        :b sometimes I realize that and think I’m crazy. But I can’t help it. I love blogging too much and it gives me something to do.

  4. #8 by Jenny Milchman on January 7, 2012 - 3:54 am

    Good tips–thanks. I guess I make time by having a lot of guest posts!

    • #9 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 10:36 am

      That’s how I’m running the red blog now, Jenny – although I intended to leave it as just a website. The Undercover Soundtrack idea just occurred to me one day – and let me give other writers a platform which I can’t really do on this blog.

  5. #10 by tekia on January 7, 2012 - 5:51 am

    I make time for blogging by putting it on my To Do List for that particular day. The list is to help manage my time better so that I make sure I get most (if not all) of my tasks done for that day. When I do blog, I will post if I have new material or visit someone’s blog. If time permits I do both but it’s always just one post and visiting one blog. Otherwise as you stated, it can become addictive, so limits are needed. I also try to make sure I respond to all comments.

    • #11 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 10:38 am

      I like lists too, Tekia. And specific ones. A list that goes ‘write, write write write’ never accomplishes anything, so mine has to say ‘blogging, Life Form 3 revisions, next writing book’ etc.

  6. #12 by Sally on January 7, 2012 - 11:17 am

    Oh, Roz, it’s almost like you wrote this post for me! Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests to start either a Facebook page (which I could never bring myself to do) or a blog. I think I may have to start it again after all. I’m not necessarily worried that I’d have nothing to talk about though. I’m more worried about time. So your post was helpful.🙂

    • #13 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 4:17 pm

      Do a blog, Sally! Then everyone who is curious about you because of the good thoughts you leave here can get to know you better! Although Facebook is fun – and I’m liking it more and more – a blog feels more like your own permanent home.

      • #14 by Sally on January 7, 2012 - 5:08 pm

        Thanks for the words of encouragement, Roz. I may just do it!🙂

  7. #15 by Valerie J. Long on January 7, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    I’ve asked myself the same question before. The answer I came up with was obvious once I found it — I do what I can do best, and that’s telling a story.
    I’m writing for over five years now, and I didn’t start with the plan to write a book. I started with a story to entertain friends in a forum, and once I started I found out there’s more behind it. It became a habit to post one chapter per day, and it’s still running.
    So when I thought about blogging, it was only natural to start a blog book. Other writers have created books consisting of letters, I’m using blog entries. It’s running weekly, for half a year so far, and I think I’ve food enough for some more years. Of course, I still have to keep my other stories running, too.

    • #16 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 4:19 pm

      One chapter per day – keep that up and you get quite a wordcount. Did you see Tuesday Serial, where I guested a short while ago? They have lots of writers who are writing their fiction steadily and putting it out as they go along. If you don’t know about them, you might get on well with them.

  8. #17 by Daniel R. Marvello on January 7, 2012 - 6:08 pm

    I try to blog once a week, and the time comes out of my normal writing schedule as you suggest. My biggest problem is that I have difficulty writing short posts. It easily takes me a couple of hours to put together a blog post, if not longer.

    My blog also has a bit of a personality disorder: it doesn’t know if it wants to be a writer blog or a reader blog. I can’t help but write about my writing experiences and sharing techniques I’ve discovered. But I also want the blog to give my future readers a place to learn more about my story world. In the end, it has turned out to be both.

    I decided to title the reader posts in a way that makes it easy for them to pick out the ones they’d be most interested in reading. I do “Creature Feature,” “Location Lore,” and “Character Spotlight” posts that focus on my characters and the story world. The blog has a category for each of these too. The rest of the posts are mostly targeted at writers.

    I find that a blog is a necessary tool for me. I need a place to regroup, share what I think is important, and communicate with the rest of the fiction writing and reading world. I love doing it!

    • #18 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 7, 2012 - 7:48 pm

      I can only manage once a week most of the time, Daniel – I don’t know how some people are clocking up several!
      I think your titles are a good way of differentiating the types of post. Like features in a magazine.
      Yes, I love having a blog too. Too much – which is why I have to ration my blogging time!

  9. #19 by Stacy Green on January 8, 2012 - 4:43 pm

    I have a feature post, Thriller Thursdays, that ties in with my genre. That always takes priority on the blog, and it helps to have the theme. Mondays are fun days, and then there are the Row80 check ins. Blogging has helped me to keep writing, and to gain a strong support group. But I think having a set schedule is what’s helped keep it from overrunning my writing time.

  10. #20 by Elizabeth Spann Craig on January 11, 2012 - 9:12 pm

    Some great ideas here, Roz!

    I do have an editorial calendar now for blogging…just as a time-saver. I totally agree with what you’re saying about scheduling blogs in advance–they tend to get stale. What I do is a mix of the two…I plan the idea, put the idea on that day’s editorial calendar, but then I actually *write* the post just a couple of days before it runs. That way I know in advance what I’ll write, but it’s fresh when it posts.

  11. #22 by L.A. Jefferson on January 16, 2012 - 7:09 am

    First, great post. Second, I’ve become addicted to blogging, managing apprx 5 blogs. They enable me to accomplish my daily writing tasks, tackling many subjects I enjoy. I still have a lot to do to get more readers, but I love it just the same.

  12. #23 by Eliza Green on January 17, 2012 - 1:06 pm

    I love this post. I work full time and write in my spare time, so realistically I can only manage 1 or 2 posts a week. I’m also creating new permanent content for my blog so that eats into my time.
    How do I juggle it all? I just put these tasks on my to do list each week and, as you say, it becomes part of your writing routine. I can’t wait for the day when I can do this job full time. Someday…

    • #24 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on January 17, 2012 - 2:56 pm

      Thanks, Eliza. But you don’t have to pour posts out every day. I only do 1 or 2 a week. It builds up over the long term. And remember the converse – no matter how much people like you, they have other things they need to do. They don’t want your content every other day! I compare it to radio programmes and podcasts I like – once a week is great, twice or three times might mean I started to miss other things. Result? I’d get used to ignoring them instead of looking forward to them.

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