This post is the 2nd part of series that outlines things I’ve learned post 100 notches on my blogging belt. Pun, anyone?
The first post provided insight into what I’ve learned about continuity and how to avoid heading to the 19th hole after 4 posts. Here I’ll outline the process I’ve arrived at and why I’ve found effective.
Before Writing the Post:
My workflow is heavily reliant upon a moleskin notebook and google docs.
Everywhere besides places I have to wear fancy pants, I carry a moleskin notebook to record ideas, thoughts, and observations. A lot of this serves as ammunition to store in my blogging war chest. Every 2-3 days I review and transfer my notes from my moleskin to a series of google docs.
My google docs:
Blog posts // no research: This doc contains ideas for posts I want to write that don’t require any work besides me sitting down and writing. Most of my posts come from here.
Functionally, I write the general idea of the post followed by bulleted notes pertinent to that topic. I don’t bother structuring the notes for reasons I’ll discuss later.
I have about 50+ posts sitting on the burner right now that I hope to get to eventually. Here is what it looks like (2 future posts)
Blog posts // research: This is my whiteboard for things that I find really interesting and would like to write about, but need to conduct some research before writing a post. An example of this was my post about Unique Cultural Traditions; before I wrote the post, I needed to learn from people at other companies about the unique traditions they implored.
I like to keep these separate from posts that don’t require research because most of the time I just feel like writing. Isolating each type makes it easier to efficiently pick a topic based on my mood and immediately start writing.
Blog notes scribed: In this doc, I log observations, thoughts, and ideas that I find particularly interesting, but don’t necessarily fit into a post at the moment. Once it gets more than a few pages, I’ll review and assign ideas to upcoming posts if/when I see fit.
The most important part of this process beyond actually writing is reviewing my new moleskine notes alongside my google docs, than appending the new insights where appropriate. By doing this, I’m connecting the dots from a collection of diverse experiences. This is where I often stumble upon the most powerful insights.
Most people treat “aha moments” as a matter of circumstance or convenience. They wait for life’s puzzle pieces to align in such an obvious way that it’s impossible not to put them together instead of building in a practice that seeks to unlock these opportunities. The extra time this practice takes, or any scheduled reflection fot that matter, might seem to stifle progress in the near term. But we always get to our desired final destination faster by using the compass of our experiences than sprinting with our eyes squinted.
At a high level, that’s how I generate, organize, and build upon the content I plan on blogging about. Onto the main course: actually sitting down and writing.
Writing The Post:
Most of my writing is done before 7:30 am. No one is emailing me. No one is trying to get drinks. There is no excuse not to do it and it’s an amazing way to start the day. In general it’s highly effective to do all the things “you can never find time for” very early in the morning before everyone else starts their day.
When I had to write a paper during college I’d usually make 6 outlines before I actually started writing. I employed this procrastination technique to feel like I was making progress when in actuality I was just avoiding the heavy lifting.
I take the complete opposite approach to blogging these days. Using a list of unstructured, topical notes from my google docs as a guide, I just start writing. No outlines; no deliberating over minute details; just writing as soon as I’ve decided to start a post. I do this for a few reasons:
- Work/creating breeds innovation – Actively trying to piece things together on the fly causes me to stumble upon new insights. Creativity stems from process, not muddling over minutiae.
- Get to a better final product faster – It’s easier to rework something that is partially completed vs. starting from scratch. Leave expectations at the door and just start writing. It might look sloppy in the beginning, but once you’re finished, you can come back and rework it if it needs to be.
I didn’t always see or do it this way, but have come to this rationale and process over the life-hood of maintaining this blog. I love this quote from Nietzsche which alludes to the core of what I’ve discovered:
“All great artists and thinkers are great workers”
Once a draft is complete, I’ll read it over, continuing to rework it as I see fit. I’ll finish up with a final editing check just to appease my middle school grammar teachers.
Over the course of 100 posts this is the methodology I’ve landed at. It’s been effective in terms of continuity, never having a shortage of things to write about, and helping me learn more about myself and the world around me.
In the next part of this post, I’ll discuss a few things I’ve learned about audiences.
What processes do others use? I’d love to hear them in the comments.