For a large part of last year I experimented with publishing a new blog post here on 35hunter every 36 hours.
It didn’t result in a dramatic growth of readership or comments, and whilst I didn’t have a shortage of ideas, and found my groove with posting this frequently, I decided to ease off a little and see how that felt.
Since last September I’ve been posting every 48 hours (except one time I got confused with the schedule and posted twice in one day!) and again had the ideas and time to sustain this.
More recently, as with many of us around the world, parts of life have changed quite significantly.
Despite in theory having more time, and fewer places to be (numerous kids clubs and school, work (I currently work at home 50% of the week)), I’ve found it more difficult to maintain a writing schedule.
Which feels the opposite of what it should be.
I think what’s happened is a few habits have come adrift from their anchors.
Like ships cut loose on the ocean, they’re now bobbing adrift on changing tides, rather than being closely tethered in harbour.
Habits are something that work very well for me, as you may have read before.
One habit I had with writing was taking a laptop to my son’s trampoline club three evenings a week and writing whilst he attended class.
This gave me around an hour on two evenings and just over two hours a third evening, a total of four hours.
This was just about enough to keep the 48 publishing schedule ticking over comfortably, as well as being able to answer all the intelligent and invaluable comments people like you leave here.
In truth, since the trampoline club went on a (then) indefinite pause back in late March, I haven’t replaced that four hours in a regular way.
Instead I’ve scrapped here and there for 30 or 60 minutes to get some writing done.
And rather than always having three to six posts lined up and scheduled to publish, often I’m writing the night before to finish off a post so it’s ready to publish early the next day.
Put another way, it’s often felt like I’m blogging from hand to mouth.
Another factor here, aside from that habit of writing when at my son’s gym club three times a week, is around permission.
Because with the trampolining, it was somewhere I needed to go anyway, the main purpose was to allow my son to attend and partake in something he loves.
That primary aim taken care of, I felt free to make good use of the time there, rather than just sit and play on my phone like many parents do.
If I’m at home (I can’t recall the last time I went out in the evening other than a local walk!), there are more immediate demands on my time, or rather perceived demands.
I still feel a bit guilty spending two hours in an evening happily writing, while there are other members of the family in the room.
It feels like I should be spending time in a more interactive way with them. Even if I’ve spent most of the day with them.
Even though they have said they’re quite happy for me to get on with writing and don’t have any expectations on my time or company.
This is my issue to continue to work with, not theirs.
I need to give myself permission more often, more freely.
The way forward I think is to set aside two or three nights a week when I just write.
So, say Monday and Thursday and Friday are just writing evenings, like certain evenings used to be at the trampoline club in between watching my son’s acrobatics.
How about you? How and when do you write for your blog, what have you found works best?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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18 thoughts on “Blogging From Hand To Mouth”
I write one post a week, usually ~2500 words. This figure appears to be inexorably rising year or year. That’s 2-3 hours solid writing for me and the only time I usually manage it is late at night – sometime 11-1am a day or two before my self-imposed deadline of late Friday afternoon. There’s no shortage of subjects – I have ~50 titles and outlines in Drafts. I cover topical subjects, science and some “how to’s”. The latter get read a lot and, if well written (they aren’t always 😦 ), get increasing numbers the following year. Of course, this means I can’t write the same thing again the following year at the same time. The “How to’s” have a big impact on readership and pageviews, probably getting 70-80% of the traffic in total.
It’s a pattern that seems to work. Unique page views was increasing at ~30% year on year, but is now (late July) at 90% of the 2019 numbers.
I’m currently exploring ways to expand coverage – with multi-part posts and some more discursive articles. The former to attract a different group of readers and to fit with longer-term plans for my writing, the latter for self-indulgence and the fun of writing something more story-like.
I work hard to illustrate posts with relevant (and varied) images and could not manage without a good workflow of camera to keyworded images in Lightroom. This takes time, but saves much more. The same images are used to illustrate talks … all of which are now online of course.
Thanks for your thoughts and experiences David.
I was going to ask you about series or multi-part posts, and if you’d considered breaking down your 2500 word posts into a series of two or three smaller ones?
I’ve tried (with sometimes limited success!) to write a range of size of posts, from perhaps 500 words up to 1500+ sometimes. Partly because some topics just need more words to explore them fully, and partly because I think some people have a shorter attention span and/or just prefer shorter bite size posts.
With my previous blog I specifically wrote 100 word posts and had a tag for them. Not every post, perhaps one in four. Maybe I should do that on 35hunter.
I believe I am what they call a ‘pantser’, as in ‘seat of the pants’ rather than a ‘planner’, i.e. organised in any meaningful way.
Post idea occurs to me (more often it’s just an image I feel I want to share and I write something to accompany it), I write it, format it and post it. Done. Rarely use the scheduling, can never wait!
Pretty much the same for my other character writings (I have returned to being silly on a new blog for that now).
I have a (software) notebook where I save clips of text, headlines in the news or some verse lines that occur to me but rarely plan much… and my days of youngsters needing ferrying and waiting for are over now thankfully.
I know what you mean about not being able to wait to publish. I very often have a couple of posts lined up, then write another one I want to publish as the nest post, so have to rejuggle the order of the schedule queue!
I think routine just works well for me. If I leave things to “when I feel like it”, they rarely get done. Even if I really enjoy doing them.
When it comes to writing habits, I try to write every day (more specifically, novel work). But blog posts? That’s sporadic at best, and I wish I could maintain such a stable habit such as yours. My writing schedule is what I’d call consistent, but I only hold myself up to 250 words a day. Anything goes after that. Thanks for sharing this!
Curious that you can write in one form very consistently, but not in another Stuart? What do you think stops you writing more consistently for your blog?
Some years back I used a website called 750 words, to, well, write 750 words each day! The idea was not to write for any particular project but just develop that habit of writing a significant chunk each day. It worked to an extent but then evolved into writing for specific things, like blogs.
I just looked it up, it’s still going. https://750words.com/
I’m not sure. I think it’s because it’s easier to make up stories that I think people would want to read, rather than to write non-fiction stuff that would do the same thing.
I think I should check out the 750 words thing. Thanks for sharing!
Let me know if 750words is any use, I haven’t used it for years.
I’ve been trying my hardest to share something for my journal at least once a week.
Do you write somewhere else first, then share certain extracts on your blog? Or is your blog itself your journal, where all of your journal writing goes?
I’ve been an extensive journaler in the the past. But the last couple years my journal on WordPress has been a unique thing all by itself.
Have you ever thought of compiling it in a different form too? Or once a post is published is that its final resting place, so to speak?
Good post Dan. I don’t have a schedule for blog posts. I tried few times to write on certain days but it doesn’t work for me. I’m quite happy to post something at least once a week. I try not to post just for the sake of it and have something interesting to show.
Hi Yuri, yes good point about not just posting for the sake of it. I don’t think I ever do that, and try not do that with anything in life, just go through the motions or pay lip service to something without properly engaging with it.
It’s a good philosophy Dan. I admire your blog writing ethics.
Well thanks, I think they’re similar to yours. : )
With new endeavors recently I’ve had to juggle everything and nothing is on a set timetable. My blogging is recreational but I’ve always been a writer of some kind, it’s only the past 5 years I’ve begun to realize I need to allow myself to decide it important to me and set boundaries. It’s recreational but, I am not myself when I do not write regularly. Right now I’ve expanded my blog interests, as well as changing the hard and fast publishing days. My goal is 2 quality “topics/projects/posts” a month minimum, subscribers can always count on this. I would love to have multiple niche blogs but that’s not realistic so I’ve allowed myself to post what I’m fired up about at the time. Whatever the topic, each post is well researched, or well written or well thought out or all 3. It’s reassuring to hear another blogger with a totally different style blog, considering similar issues. My recreational blog reading is solely photo blogs, quality reflective writing and photography often go hand in sleeve.
I know what you mean, I can’t imagine not writing. It’s a fundamental part of me and my life, even more than photography. And I agree I greatly enjoy a thoughtfully written blog, interspersed with lovely photographs, it’s a winning combination.