December 18, 2009

Bulk view

One post a day, or the value of a bottleneck

Why a goal of only a single post a day, when I want to write many more?

I started with the idea of an editorial calendar. Magazines plan their issues; why shouldn’t I plan my blog? Storing ideas in a TODO list made perfect sense. When I separated “What am I going to write about?” from “How am I going to write about it?”, I wrote more.

I used to post blog entries whenever I wrote them. Some days had four posts. Other days had none.

Then I started setting aside 8 AM to 9 AM ET for writing morning pages, which worked out pretty well. Blogging was still a bit uneven, though.

On a whim, I thought I’d try scheduling posts and spreading them out one per day, aiming for publication some time between 8 AM and 9 AM ET.

That made a big difference. I thought about what I was posting, and whether one post was more useful than another. I rearranged posts depending on interest.

There’s so much to write, though! I read Write Like Hemingway and decided to try shorter sentences. Advantages of writing fewer words: I have to focus. I get my point across. I’ll probably go over these posts and rewrite them in more detail someday. In the meantime, writing fewer words means I end up writing about more topics.

But now that I’m better at capturing short snippets of thoughts, I have even more of a publishing backlog. This is not a problem, as it just means I push the things I care about more to the front. On the other hand, if something happens to me, my blog will spookily keep publishing, which could mean that my incapacitation/death would go unnoticed for longer. That would be bad, so I’ll try not to get into trouble.

I still write as much as I can, and I capture the rest of the ideas in my TODO list. Life is much too interesting to let it slip by. Even then, there’s so much that goes unrecorded and unshared. There are so many potential stories. I have to prioritize.

When I have lots of good things in my backlog, I think, “Oh, I want to hear what people say about this!” I learn a lot from what people share, and it seems I help people be inspired or more productive, too. It’s hard to wait. But I’m trying something new out, so I make myself be patient.

Maybe when I get to the point of having good stuff lined up for a month, I’ll think about posting more each day. =)

Who knew bottlenecks could be so useful?

If you blog: have you thought about limiting yourself to one post (or a few) a day? Don’t stop writing. Keep those posts in your pipeline. Just prioritize. It might be a useful experiment.

My next step: I want to show people my post queue, if it’s not too much of a tease. Even cooler if people could vote on which things they’d like to see first. My post queue keeps getting rearranged, but that’s interesting too. When I’ve got a ridiculous backlog (one month of posts I really want to get out, perhaps?), I might move to two posts a day.

Books mentioned:

Write Like Hemingway: Writing Lessons You Can Learn from the Master
R. Andrew Wilson

(Disclosure: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link. That said, I recommend checking out your local library. I got this book from the Toronto Public Library, yay!)

(Thanks to @kittenthebad, @luxocrat, @madwilliamflint, and @eric_andersen for nudging this post forward in the queue.)