Avoiding the Blogging Time Suck

It’s summer time; we all have fun things to do.

Maybe you’ve noticed that your stats are a little lower than normal or that your comments and likes have been cut in half.

The first time I noticed it, I thought it was because I was writing shitty posts (I haven’t ruled this out yet), or because I had mapped my WordPress domain to a .com. I was frantically googling, does domain mapping in WordPress make you lose all your followers?

How’s that for narcissism and paranoia?

People aren’t reading, I must suck. Or my posts are not showing up in their reader. They are getting bored.

With me.

I’m sure some of you are, but a more reasonable explanation is that people are out living life, going on vacation, gathering the experiences that are the basis of the stories for any good writer. If you find yourself facing a serious case of writer’s block, that is the first advice I would give. Go out.

Do something.

Take it in, and forget for a moment about how you might turn every detail of the day into a piece.

Hahaha! This would happen to me in an interview. Not that I would put this blog anywhere near a resume. credit: alibean.wordpress.com

I’ve been thinking about reducing my number of blog posts to 2 or 3 a week for a while now. Mostly in the interest of enjoying this summer, showing my daughter all the fun things she was too little to fully enjoy last summer (swimming, parks, splash parks, the zoo, the aquarium, bouncy houses, snow cones/ice cream), capitalizing on the relative coolness of the morning hours, and because I really need to spend more time writing other non-blog things.

I read this article by Michael Hyatt the other day.

I like his blog, and I’m even considering buying his new book, Platform. Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

He’s got 225,998 subscribers. He probably knows what he’s talking about.

This article was about how to write a blog post in 70 minutes or less.

Some days I write mine in less than an hour. Some days it takes way longer, and that is usually the result of not being organized, not knowing what I want to say when I start writing, and getting sucked into Google.

His advice is sound (you should really read his post because it is way better than mine) and here are the high points:

  • Start the Night Before: Sometimes I do this. I’ll pick a topic for the next day and let it marinate overnight. Those are usually my best posts.
  • Use Downtime To Think: Running, driving, walks, taking a shower. These are great times to mentally run through what you want to say.
  • Go Offline: Nooooo! What if I miss something on Facebook or Twitter? Cut it off. These distractions slow you down.
  • Turn on Music: I would love to do this, but I’m usually trying to knock out a post during the Sesame Street hour. That’s why you see a lot of comments about Elmo and Mr. Noodle, and it’s honestly not the most inspiring soundtrack for deep thinking (Mr. Noodle’s brother was in The Green Mile by the way, and I just learned that he died in 2003. Sorry Mr. Noodle’s Brother).
  • Set Timer: I bought one. I haven’t used it yet. It will probably end up being the time-out timer.
  • Use a Template: Wait, there is a blog post cookie cutter? I had no idea. Here is an example of MH’s template in Evernote.
  • Create an Outline: Kind of the same thing as a template, but I’ve been trying to do better about scratching out an outline lately. Even for ridiculous posts about T-Rex doing push-ups.
  • Write Without Editing: Good advice. Get down your shitty first draft.
  • Edit and Format: Go back and weed out what you were really trying to say. Save tangents if they seem like they’ll stand on their own for another post.
  • Add Pictures and Links: I usually do this as I go, but I think I will start doing it at the end.
  • Publish: The easiest and hardest part.
  • Wait Anxiously for People to Like You: Not part of his plan, but a reality most of us face.

So I’m inspired.

To be more organized with my posts, to try to spend less time on them, to cut them back and give you quality over quantity, and to achieve some more balance in my life.

Do you use any of these tips already?

How much time do you spend on a typical post?

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27 thoughts on “Avoiding the Blogging Time Suck

  1. I think “write without editing” is so important because I tend to get lost in it and an entire morning or evening can pass by without me realizing it. This is a great post, I will try it out!

  2. You took the (lack of) words right out of my (blog) mouth. it’s really hard to post as regularly during the summer, and i don’t want to feel guilty about it either. i love the tips you reblogged, have to keep those in mind. we need to remember, we have to take time to experience life and recharge otherwise it becomes work not love and we are left with nothing to write about anyway. so let’s relax, enjoy our families and summer time, and stop checking stats.

    • Amen Tracy! I feel guilty about it too because I feel like I am breaking a goal, but I’m still going to write every day, just maybe not a blog post every day. Definitely need to get out and enjoy the beautiful summer though.

  3. I love all your work, and should probably take my blogs more seriously- as in: wow, writing like I would if I thought I would either get famous or- dare I dream- paid. So, that being said, people do get bored. We are a fickle bunch, skipping about like children in a candy store, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the shiny, colorful delights with great zeal just until something even more sparkly catches our eye. Unlike a novel, a blog post has to catch our focus rather quickly- to keep the short attention span of the reader. I think humor or shock value really help, as well. Nobody seems too thrilled by articles on the history of vanilla or the rising threat of fascism in the imperialist nations… I hear crickets even now. You may have noticed that the first few hours of a new post, maybe upwards to 3 days, your stats will soar and comments abound, but then it falls flat- new readers find our stuff, like it, hope for subscriber # 85, and move on. I have written poetry here, essay, humor, diet and exercise, even about sex, etc. it could be that I am not that great, naturally, but I guess I just don’t believe that a blog is much more important than a Facebook post. Maybe I should get more serious about it.

    • Thank you! I enjoy your posts, and you are exactly right about the fickle nature we all have. I’m still going to try to write things that are entertaining to people, but I think I need to take it less seriously, at least for the summer.

  4. I love scheduling posts and when a post starts to suck my time I will spread it out over days or weeks to complete. I like to set limits throughout the week as to how much time I spend online too. So far it is working. Great Post – thanks for sharing. Have a Great Day!

  5. I don’t listen to music, set a timer, or use a template, but otherwise, I guess I do everything else on that list without really thinking of it. It does seem the blogging world is slowing down over the summer–at least on this side of the world–but that is probably as it should be. :)

    • It’s all basically the same advice given to most writers about how to write anything. I think you are right. It’s probably just how it should be.

  6. I’m all for a slow down :) I’m noticing the same decreases in views, comments, and likes. And I’m reading a lot of posts where bloggers are cutting down for the summer. It’s not you! :)

  7. I think I do most of those things. Not the timer though, that would stress me out.

    I’m in awe of you and those like you who post daily. I can hardly find the time to write one each week and I don’t even have a kid. Even if I had the time, I don’t think I could do it. I’m usually mentally exhausted after writing one and desperately need a blogging break.

    • I feel that way sometimes too (about needing a break) but mostly it’s just fun to see if I can get someone to laugh. Even if I’m the only one laughing! Loved your most recent post by the way–hilarious :)

  8. I love your blog! You are witty and fun, and I look forward to your posts. I am also impressed with how often you post! :) I have felt a little uninspired with my blog recently. I think I may need to try some of the advice above. Thanks!

    • Thanks! I feel the same about your posts. Just having these tips in my mind makes me feel like I will finish my post tomorrow in a more timely manner. Hope they help you too!

  9. RFL, thank you for putting my first Summer as a blogger into perspective. I was starting to think that my writing was bad or uninteresting, but yes, people are outside, out of town, out of their mind. (New post idea!) I also get sucked into the blogging hole. Some posts are done in under an hour, some take all fricken day because I cannot find the right picture or the link I want. I hate being a perfectionist sometimes. LOL Have a great Summer!

    • Perfectionists work slower sometimes! I definitely have the same troubles. I would say to anyone experiencing a summer slump to not take it personally; it’s really not a reflection on anyone’s writing, people are just busy.

  10. I’ve been totally away from WP for the last ten days just to enjoy some beautiful summer weather, and even some rainy summer weather, just to get outside and get back out into the real world again. It’s been a positive and necessary experience for me to get away from the internet for a while, and yes, I see many bloggers doing the same thing now that summer is here.

    • Good for you! We are doing the same, and I am happy with that :) In fact, in the next couple of months I will probably be taking entire weeks away from WP as well.

  11. This is why I just post recipes on my blog :-) no but seriously … I never mind when a blog I read post less frequently. To be honest I can barely keep up with my reading and I only read a few – so less blogs with better content are ( I think) appreciated by all readers. go forth and have a life!! see you when you come back!
    (I try to put up a fresh post about every 4-5 days – you know I am busy if it stays longer – also I cook/write posts ahead and keep them “on tap” to release – is this a possibility for you?)

    • I’m definitely blogging less these days. Probably only two days a week. I think, I hope, that they are getting better in the quality department. I love your recipes.

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