Balancing Writing and Blogging


Vision 69




Linda Adams

Copyright © 2012, Linda Adams, All Rights Reserved


One of the big challenges of doing writing and promoting is the time blogging consumes. When I took a blogging course for writers, all the writers immediately started blogging three times a week. Four months later, many announced they were taking a blogging break because they were falling behind on their novels. The last thing any of us want is to have the blogging steal time from writing. Promotion is worthless if there isn't a book or stories to promote. Below are strategies to keeping blogging manageable without turning into a black hole that sucks in your writing time.


Set a Manageable Schedule


There's lots of advice out there on how often to blog. Some say three times a week because regular posting gains more visibility. The key is to ask yourself what will work for you within your schedule, and around writing your stories. Promotion is important, but stories must have priority. Sales Lion blogged about posting every three days, and I liked the concept. It was much better for me than three times a week, which often was such a struggle to keep up with.

However, it is also important to post regularly. If you post once a month, or infrequently, then you're probably wasting time doing a blog. You're not likely to get enough visibility to make writing the posts worthwhile. Plus a blog that has infrequent posts tends to suggest the writer doesn't care, and that'll keep people away.


Create an Editorial Calendar


An editorial calendar is a publishing schedule of when particular posts will be published. It's a great feeling when I have to write a week's of posts and I don't have to come up with topics. But there's a catch: For an editorial calendar, you must have a platform or brand in place. I'd tried one before, but I was doing how-to writing posts. All it did was identify that I was running out of topics! With a brand, I have five categories to choose from, and can rearrange as I need to.


Variety of Content


The editorial calendar also gives a broad overview of the blog and allows for a variety of content. When I first started a blog, it was difficult to have enough variety with just topics about how to write. But with five categories, I can change it up over the course of the month, which helps me keep the ideas coming ahead of schedule. There's nothing worse than knowing a blog post needs to be published on Friday, and it's Thursday (or worse, Friday morning) and the last thing you want to do is write it. Once that happens, it will eat at the fiction writing time.


Get Ahead


The best time saving strategy is to write several posts in advance and schedule them for the coming weeks. The editorial calendar helps because you will be able to see scheduling issues far enough out that you can get ahead. For example, I was attending a science fiction convention and knew I would lose my normal blog writing time -- that weekend. The last thing I wanted to do was I didn't want to do was a five-hour drive back and then play catch-up on the blog. So for about a month before, I added one more post to my writing schedule and got ahead.


Post Shortcuts


But I've also found some post shortcuts that can help cut the time creating them down:

Long-Term Posts: Create a post that can be assembled over time in a word processing document. This is useful for posts that require research that may gulp time away from story writing. For example, I'm building a post on writers who use omniscient viewpoint. When I tried posts like this before, I spend hours trying to find author names. With a long-term post, I add a name to the document when I find a writer during my normal reading. Once I have enough writers, then I can publish it.

Link Posts: These can come in many different forms. Use it to highlight your own blog posts on a particular topic, your top ten posts for the month, or links to different blogs. With the third option, build it as a long term post. It's a lot easier to do that than to spending writing time finding links to get a post up for the next week.

Word Count Limits: Establish a post word count and stick to it. The more words, the longer it will take to write and revise. You've probably seen writers complaining about all the time blogging takes in a post that's over 1,000 words. My limit is 500 words, and I have a time limit of finishing it in one hour.

Editing Cheats: Use whatever tools you can to shorten the editing/revision process. I have a macro in Word that searches for unnecessary words like just, that, and only, replacing them with a highlighted version. Then it's a fast pass through for more editing and revision. Most of the common words are available online. This is also a tool that does double duty because it can be used to edit your stories as well!

Blogging doesn't need to interfere with your writing time. With good strategies, blogging can work with your writing.