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.)

2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • You’re hinting at something important here (well… a few things.) Art demands constraints and frameworks. They come in all different dimensions, time, poetic form, size, topical scope and progression. Without those things it’s always just a white background or a blank page.

    So applying rules and frameworks gives you a defined scope within which you can act, a resistance of some kind to explore the edges of.

  • Yes! Constraints inspire creativity. I remember coming across that idea while listening to a talk about Disney’s Imagineers. They pick the box for a movie (budget, etc.), and then they fit as much as they can into it.

  • One post a day! I’m lucky if I can get one post per month!

    I do have to admit that I’m not exactly writing short stories, though. My styles is more like essays.

  • David: What if you had a goal of one essay per month, and lots of short sketches of ideas in between? It’s like the way artists do studies of subjects before doing the main work. =)

  • David: Also, I know you share lots of insights with your proteges and other people you run into. You might have a section of your blog that’s just like a cc:world braindump of the things you’ve shared with others. I know I’d love to learn from your other insights! =)

  • @sachachua, thanks for the encouragement. In addition to the serious nature of the Coevolving Innovations blog, I’d actually much prefer to be working on the travel photos of my Distractions, Reflections blog. I do find logging the MP3 audio on the Media Input Queue to be a bit of a chore, but it’s helped me pre-empt listening to the same talk twice!

    I can’t seem to get into tweeting as a conversational engagement — maybe it’s my introversion preferring to exchange with a smaller group rather than the world at large — and have been experimenting with a microblog called In Brief. David Ing on wordpress.COM, alerting via the P2 theme. This feeds into Twitter (via Twitterfeed within 15 minutes.

    So I guess that I should recant my statement of only blogging once per month, because I have different blog streams for different audiences.

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