Maintaining a Schedule

"BLOG!"

The “fantastic” opening screen of the Glove and Boots video blog.

A year ago today, I set a goal for myself to post to this blog more frequently, and I devised a schedule to help make it happen. Now that a year has passed, how have I done? To answer, I need to break the question into two parts.

Am I blogging more frequently? Yes. In the past my blogging frequency has ebbed and flowed. I’ve had very busy months, like December, 2012, with my Online Advent Calendar, and very sparse months, including a string from October, 2011 through February 2012 where I never hit double digits. Since last April, I’ve averaged about twenty posts a month.

Has the schedule helped? I think so. By narrowing each day’s topic to a more specific subject, I have an easier time writing posts. I also have a built-in deadline for each post, which I usually meet.

Having answered those two questions, I have one more left to ask …

Is there anything I can do differently? Yes. This schedule has taken some tweaking to get right and the tweaking isn’t done yet. For example, I’ve struggled with a regular topic for Thursday, and, after a year, I think I may have finally found one. I also need to work more on my time management—a constant struggle for me—to make sure I’m not leaving posts to the last minute.

It’s an ongoing struggle to keep the blog up and running while not neglecting my other writing as well. I’m figuring it out as I go.

How about you? If you have a blog, what helps you blog more frequently? Tell me in the comments. Thanks!

The Next Story

The Boyhood of Raleigh

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870.

I’d never written a book before. Then I did. And now I’m wondering what to do next.

Besides get the book I’ve already written published, of course.

Because as important as the business side of writing is, it’s not as important as the writing part. Otherwise, I’d just go into business. And actually make money. But when you’re a creative artist—as I have been in one way or another my whole life—the creative part has to remain central.

So I’ve spent the last few months trying to figure out “the next book.” I’ve come up empty and I’ve been down on myself and my writing as a result. Then I realized something.

“The next book” was too big a concept. I needed something smaller. I needed to figure out “the next story.”

It could be long or short. It could be fact or fiction. Categories don’t matter. Genres don’t matter.

All that matter is the story. And the only way to find it is to write it.

Starting now.

Five Minute Friday

Setting a Schedule

"BLOG!"

The “fantastic” opening screen of the Glove and Boots video blog.

I have been blogging on WordPress for over three years, and during that time my audience has grown considerably. I hope to grow it more, and the best way to do that is by posting frequently.

I try—and I’ve gotten better—but facing that blank editing window every morning when I have so many other tasks in front of me is daunting if not downright depressing.

So based on some of more prevalent Twitter hashtags, and a few ideas of my own, I’m setting a schedule. I hope that with a little organization ahead of time, I can spend less time obsessing over what to write and more time actually writing. So here goes.

Monday Blogs

Okay I’m bending the rules a bit already, but on future Mondays I’m going to highlight posts on other blogs that catch my interest. Many bloggers already include a post like this every week (i.e. Rachel Held Evans’ “Sunday Superlatives”), and it’s a great way to point my readers to other blogs, and, in return, to bring new readers here.

Tell Me Tuesday

Here’s where I get to tell a story. Every week. It’s what I do best as a writer and it’s important I continue to practice my craft here. These might be Anna Tales, or new book reviews, (a story about a story) or travel pieces, or posts on other topics. Most of the long posts that include a “continue reading” link a few paragraphs down will go online on Tuesday. That gives me week at most to plan and write (except for this week, when I only have ONE DAY!!!)

Wordless Wednesday

I know. I’m a writer. I’m supposed to do “Writer Wednesday” instead. Well, you know what? Sometimes the best way to say something is with a picture (or a gallery of pictures). Julia is an amazing photographer, Anna is getting really good, and I sometimes find amusing images in my day-to-day travels that demand to be photographed, if only on my iPhone. So I’m sticking with Wordless Wednesday, but as a compromise I will tweet a link for #WriterWednesday each week too.

Thursday Asides

Okay, I made that one up. But since posting my first aside, I’ve discovered the benefit of sharing something short and to the point with little or no comment from me. In the future, these may be actual “asides” (using the WordPress “aside” format) or videos or quotes or other small things to share. Particularly anything for a good cause.

Five-Minute Friday

I’ve been a part of the Five-Minute Friday community on and off now for a year. I’ve been averaging about one post every two weeks or so, but from now on I’m going to make the effort to post one each week. These are among my most commented upon and most liked posts. Plus it’s a great writing exercise.

Wildcard Weekend

Because I can’t force myself into a too-strict schedule without stifling my creativity and burning out on the blog, I’m giving myself the freedom to post whatever I want on the weekend. Long, short, or nothing at all. You’ll just have to stop by each weekend to see what, if anything, new is up.

Or you can subscribe (using the link in the menu to the left), follow me on Twitter, or like the blog on Facebook and get a heads-up. (See how I worked that plug in there?)

Stretching My Imagination

Stretching woman in Crimea.

Photo: Vladislav Gromakovsky (CC BY-SA 3.0)

I’m in a rut—at least when it comes to this blog. As hard as I try, I can’t think of anything to write about. Perhaps it’s the heat, or that I’m buried in manuscript editing, or that I can’t think straight when my six-year old is loudly calling her make-believe dog . . .

Or maybe I need to take a hint from my daughter and stretch my imagination.

I think it was Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird who said that when writers say they’re “blocked” they’re really empty, and need to get out and fill back up again. (I’d check the quote, but I’ve only got five minutes to write this thing: if it was someone else, I apologize.) Another metaphor is stretching: just like an athlete needs to stretch before competing, an artist needs to stretch before creating.

I’m a musician and I would never perform without warming up first. It’s the same thing.

So I’m going to put the manuscript away for a few hours. I’m also going to put this blog aside, and get off the Internet. I’m going to eat lunch, and then go out with Anna and have a fun afternoon. I’m going to fill up my soul with joy. I’m going to stretch my imagination. I’m going to warm up.

Like singing scales, only more fun.