Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sausage


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.)

49 comments:

Moving with Mitchell said...

I actually like, and would miss, that art on the doorway.

I have a similar approach to blogging and your penultimate paragraph beginning “And that’s basically” sums things up perfectly for me. I had a couple of figure-drawing classes with similar timed drawings. Great exercises! I wish I had the same in writing classes.

Andrew said...

I always write days or the night before, to be published at 5am AEST, which I once calculated was the best time for the world. Yes, I constantly think when I am out and about of what might be interesting for a blog post, even just personal matters. A blog friend in person once asked me after seeing an artistic performance if I was blog writing in my head. My reply was no. I will do that later.

I was never one for a diary or journal, but hey, I have a record of much of my life back to 2004.

Very interesting to read about how you blog. John Gray of Wales posts seem mostly off the cuff, hopefully an expression you know.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Thank you for explaining The Reed Method which I had previously thought was a natural form of birth control and not a process for the manufacture of sausages. Shows how wrong assumptions can be.

Wilma said...

While similar to your approach, mine is more photo-led. I write and edit quickly, but the whole process takes some time with selecting and cropping photos - that can be tedious if the internet speed is slow that day! I thoroughly enjoy the results of your process!

Bob said...

I have kind of the same blogging process, though I do have some pre-planned posts. And I take notes on my phone, especially for Tales of Carlos because those sometimes come so quick and furious I can forget them.

Marcia LaRue said...

Silly me ... I actually looked for a sausage-making recipe! LOL Not that I would make any ... Jimmy Dean is good enough for me!
I enjoy your walks and photos and your blogs ... Keep up the good work!! 😁

Ellen D. said...

I appreciate the thought and work you put into your blog. I enjoy it very much and I thank you!

ellen abbott said...

Since my life is so uneventful, retired so no job though I do still create art it's a leisurely activity, and we weren't in the habit of going out even before covid sometimes it's hard to find something interesting or a point to write about. I try to post every other day but sometimes several days go by. I'm impressed you get it done in half an hour. Sometimes it takes me a couple of hours but spread out over the days.

Ms. Moon said...

I, too, have a very ritualized way of writing my posts and I will admit that I am too attached to it. But, I am who I am.
I dreamed of you last night. You played a brief role in a Winter Haven dream. I was thinking of moving back there and an old apartment building caught my eye. You showed up and I wanted to ask you if it's where you had lived in WH when you were there. Never got an answer. It was a scattered and rather emotionally fraught dream.

robin andrea said...

I loved reading about your blogging routine. I think if I were still out in the world daily, working and doing things, taking a much-loved doggie for walks, traveling and experiencing a bigger life than the one I have now, I might have more to say on the Dharma Bums blog. As it is, if the sky doesn't do something interesting I'm a blank page. Thank you for sharing your blogging process.

The Bug said...

I enjoyed hearing your thought process! I only post about once a week, but I wish I'd so some more thoughtful posts during the week to flex my writing muscles. But that's not going to happen without some intention & I apparently don't intend to. Ha!

Margaret said...

Oh, Ratana! Why won't s/he go away? I am a very fast blogger like you although not always a daily one. At least every other day unless I'm traveling or otherwise engaged. I like putting photos in my posts and they're often a starting point to talk about my day.

Tasker Dunham said...

I'm very different in that most of my posts are written bit by bit over days, weeks or even years, with only a few posted immediately. I've probably got 20 on the go at the moment, although some I've not touched for a year or more. But then, mine has never been a daily journal. However, one similarity is that ideas often come from every day live.

Allison said...

It's become apparent that Blogger is not going to take care of Ratana. I read some tech-speak article about how the new spammers have blogs, blogs can't be blocked or something like that, TL;DR. Anyway, I guess we're stuck with her, or him. You are way faster with the blog writing than I am. Of course, it would help if we actually went somewhere to see something new.

Sharon said...

Interesting to hear how you put your posts together. I think I'm thinking about things I can post about all day long too. But once the pandemic hit, it made that job a little harder. If I relied on the day's experiences I might be posting scenes from my bookcase or kitchen cabinets. I post for the next day, the day before. Sometimes in the morning after I've read other blogs and sometimes later in the day. One thing is for sure, blogging is part of my routine and I wouldn't have it any other way. I enjoy reading posts as much as I enjoy taking the photos and writing mine.

Boud said...

I moderate my comments so R***t*na, disguised to duck any trawling they may be doing, never makes it.

I have a solitary life but I still seem to have things to write about. A post takes about 45 minutes of writing, rewriting and editing included. I crop pix as I take them. I'm a rapid writer, probably from years of over the transom, old people know what this was, freelancing, to earn $ for a special needs child's medical bills. Blogging is an unpaid continuation of that.

Jeanie said...

I find the thought processes of other bloggers extremely interesting and I would have enjoyed that conversation. Like you, I'm always on the lookout for what might work for my post. My blog chronicles the things in my life so it varies -- books and travel, cooking and creating, life in general. I'm longing for a little more freedom to get out and discover a bit more. Once I get the thought I can write fast and sometimes I'll start something for the future just because I'm overloaded in thought. And sometimes, it comes hard! All good though.

Loved Vivian's full body version of Olga!

Lini said...

Thanks for sharing your process. i love to read your blogs- you and john gray are the first two i read. Your life in England and Olga and the library are all so interesting to me. If i were younger and more computer savvy i think it would be fun to do one about Petaluma California- where I live. But alas my old brain can't figure it out. so i'll just enjoy yours!

Pixie said...

I always like hearing how or why people blog. I like your blog because it's nice to come here and have a slice of England, mixed with a gay American man. I hope that doesn't sound rude but I like different perspectives.

Usually I write when I'm upset or need to sort something out inside my head, or just bitch and complain. I guess that's my persepctive, tired, bitchy, Canadian granny on the prairie:)

Kelly said...

It's interesting to learn how others do things. It was Olga that first drew me to your blog, but your wonderful photos and words have kept me reading.

My process has often changed over the years, much as my blog content has changed. I use to enjoy having interactive posts (asking for specific responses in the comments), but don't do those as much anymore. At least I'm back to posting four or five times a month!

sparklingmerlot said...

Your blogging process is very organised. I am constantly thinking of blog fodder and as soon as I sit down at the computer my brain becomes a sieve and every good idea disappears. I have met some wonderful people through blogging and various forums (fora?) who are lifelong friends.

Linda Sue said...

wow serious blogging dude! I do none of those things and that could be the reason why I only have about three people who read them.I do it for me and am spontaneous, unlike you. You are Apollo, I am Dionysus. Our house keeping skills are likely that as well, from what I see of your digs and mine- opposite. Your method is highly desirable and admirable.

Red said...

I appreciate how you share what you're writing process is. It makes me think about how I write.

Steve Reed said...

I kind of like the art too -- it was a shame to see it covered up by a plain white wall. It sometimes helps the creative process to have a deadline!

Steve Reed said...

See, I think I AM blog-writing in my head a lot of the time, often without really knowing it. It is good to have a record of things. I often go back to the blog when I want to know when I last saw a certain movie or what we served at a certain dinner party. (Not that there are many of those happening right now.)

Steve Reed said...

There's a joke to be made about birth control and sausages in the same sentence, but I'm not going there.

Steve Reed said...

So you edit and crop your photos online? I do everything in Lightroom and then upload the finished pics. Some days my posts are more photo-driven than others.

Steve Reed said...

Exactly -- snippets of dialogue have to be written down STAT!

Steve Reed said...

Ha! Let me just say, you will almost never find a recipe on my blog. :)

Steve Reed said...

I'm glad it works for you! :)

Steve Reed said...

I always like hearing about your crazy neighbor! LOL

Steve Reed said...

I don't know that it's an unhealthy attachment. I think it's good to have a "system." That's a funny dream! If you were dreaming about The Lake apartments between Lake Howard and Lake Deer, you were right on the money. :) (I think the complex has a different name now.)

Steve Reed said...

The sky is good inspiration! Besides, you have more to say than you think you do. I always find your posts interesting.

Steve Reed said...

I always intend to do more "thoughtful" posts too, but they often turn into "what-I-did-yesterday."

Steve Reed said...

Ratana is a CURSE! It's the same with me -- I often start with the pictures and the posts fit in around them.

Steve Reed said...

Interesting! I'm not sure I could handle such a lengthy writing process. I think I'd lose focus!

Steve Reed said...

Actually Ratana didn't show up today. Is it too much to hope for that something has been done?!

What do you mean, it would help if you saw something new?! You just moved! You'll be seeing a lot more when the weather warms up.

Steve Reed said...

I've been known to blog things around the house, but only if I'm truly desperate! LOL

I know what you mean about the pandemic stifling your blogging. I've had the same experience. Between that and the aging dog I get out a lot less these days.

Steve Reed said...

Having a solitary life always HELPED my journal-keeping. I poured a lot of what I'd normally tell other people into the journal. I think I do the same with the blog. (My life isn't solitary but on a non-workday I don't talk to anyone other than Dave!)

Steve Reed said...

I just posted the full-body painting today! (Subsequent post to this one)

Steve Reed said...

Petaluma! I used to work for the company that owned the Press-Democrat in Santa Rosa. I knew all the editors there quite well! (This was 2000-2009.)

Steve Reed said...

Not rude at all! That's what you're getting! I often think my "American-ness" confuses people because they see I'm in London and expect me to be English.

I understand writing to "vent" or to organize your thoughts. I used to do that more in my private writing, my journal.

Steve Reed said...

Olga is a blog-magnet! Interactivity can be fun now and then, though I seldom ask readers questions. I just let them volunteer whatever info they want. :)

Steve Reed said...

Ha! That happens to me too, which is why I write down specific things in my Notepad blog list or on my phone. It's funny how ideas can disappear as quickly as they arise!

Steve Reed said...

I like your stream-of-consciousness approach, though, and you're more organized than you give yourself credit for being. You always have photos ready, for example!

Steve Reed said...

It's good to have a "system," I think!

Ms. Moon said...

No, this was across from Lake Martha and was actually based in reality on a very old building a few blocks away from that location.

37paddington said...

I adore hearing how the sausage is made! We are all so different here, and yet I too cherish my blog friendships as much as I do my non-virtual world friendships. I think we reveal ourselves so fully here in a psychological sense, even if we hold back details that may be sensitive to other people in our lives. The sharing feels so authentic to me, because otherwise, why do it? You were one of the first blog friends I made, and I love that we're both still here, with our blog processes, you writing each morning, me writing when the spirit moves me, and sometimes not knowing where I will end up when I sit before the blank screen. Other times, I have a photo I want to post, so I have a place to find it again easily, and that will be the genesis of my post. Of course sometimes, like today, I want to simply want to make a record of something that happened, to have the date set down, and the feelings that attended it. Most of all, I keep coming back because I love being in continued community with my friends here. Thank you for being among them, Steve.

Edna B said...

I do my blogging in the morning too. I have a folder on my laptop that holds photos and pictures that I may want to share on my blog. My blog is just sort of my daily routine. It keeps my family and friends in touch with my daily life. I've met a log of wonderful folks through blogging and made some really nice friends. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.