Saturday, January 22, 2022
When I was an AP English student in high school, way back in the mid-'80s, we were regularly assigned "timed writings." The teacher would give us a topic and for 15 minutes or so we wrote an essay. I don't remember any of the topics and I no longer have any of those essays, but I did well on them and I've often thought that they were great preparation for my career as a journalist, when writing on deadline was so important.
Blogging is a bit like timed writing. Fortunately I'm a fast writer -- one of my editors used to call me the "microwave reporter" because I could turn around a story quickly.
When I met blogger John Gray for coffee a couple of weeks ago we talked about our "process" for blogging. Ever since then I've thought I should write a post about it, just in case you're all curious.
To be honest, my blog sensors are turned on all day. I'm always scanning for what might make a good post. If something funny happens -- like I hear someone say something interesting -- I might make a note on my iPhone so I remember it accurately, but usually I just keep the ideas in my head. I think about what should be the main element, what could be secondary, what pictures I should use. I have a Notepad file on my computer desktop called "BlogTopics," and in the evening I might make a list of what I intend to say the next morning. I try to get my photos downloaded and edited so they're ready to go.
I almost never write a post ahead of time, though. Blogging is my morning routine. It helps me gather my thoughts and mentally prepare for the day. Before I had my blog, I'd use that same time to write in my journal. It's just the way I get psychologically organized.
When I get up -- usually somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning -- I make coffee, empty the dishwasher, and then sit down to blog. This is where my "timed writing" skills come in, because on weekdays I have to squeak out a post pretty quickly before getting ready for work. On weekends, obviously, I have a little more time, but I still usually get it done in half an hour or so.
Then I try to go back and answer the previous day's comments (and delete Ratana's spam), but depending on the clock, that step might have to wait until I get to work.
Once I'm at my desk in the library, around 8:30 a.m., I catch up on whatever I didn't get done at home. I usually re-read my post and correct any typos or awkward phrasing, and I answer any comments I couldn't get to before work. The timing on these final steps varies a lot, depending on how busy the library is -- sometimes I can do them right away, sometimes not until later in the day.
Meanwhile, I'm already mentally scanning and collecting information for the next post. I usually read other blogs during slow periods in the afternoon or after I get home.
And that's basically it. As I've said in the past, I have a terrible memory, so the blog (like the journals before it) is really just a way for me to record the little events of my life. Doing so in a way that (hopefully!) entertains readers is a sort of fringe benefit. I never expected to develop friendships through blogging, but of course I have and now it's a social outlet that easily rivals anything I have in real life.
So thank you, readers, for joining me on these daily adventures, and I hope hearing "how the sausage is made" doesn't take the magic out of it for you!
(Photo: The doorway of a closed shop on Finchley Road, last week. A day or two after I took this photo, the doorway was covered by an outer wall of plywood while the shop is being renovated.)