Earlier this week I gave you a look at my blogging tools—Tools that rock my blogging that you should try too | Six Easy Blogging Projects Blog—and some of you might have wondered how I actually write the posts I produce. Even though I’ve titled this my “2009 edition”, not much has changed in my whole blogging process since late 2004. Sure I’ve changed blog editors, RSS readers, even operating systems since then, but I haven’t really changed how I gather, sift through, review, and write blog posts.
It starts with RSS
The core of any professional blogger’s toolkit is his/her RSS reader and bevy of feeds. I’ve culled down my nearly 1,000 feeds to a more manageable 330 some odd feeds, but I still look to these information sources as the start of all my blogging. From my feeds I not only learn what is going on in the world and the various tech niches I’m interested in, but I get a sense of the bigger picture of the community and industry as well. Sometimes I’m not even consciously aware of what I’m absorbing, but it’s always there, that little voice in the back of my mind putting all the pieces together.
Okay then, I’m skimming a few hundred posts (I usually check my feeds every couple hours or so), then what? It’s tab-o-rama time.
Wow, that’s a lot of tabs
As I’m “reading” my feeds, I’m making a lot of choices at once. I decide whether I’m going to read the whole post then or later, I decide if this is going to be opened for reference material or just one of those smaller pieces of the larger puzzle, and finally I decide whether to open the post in Firefox or not. As I skim headlines, which makes it pretty important that authors write good, descriptive headlines, I’m going through all those decisions. The end result, sometimes 20-30 tabs open in Firefox at once. Lucky for me, NetNewsWire let’s me open tabs in the background so I don’t have to switch back and forth from NNW to Firefox and back again.
Now the hard part comes, reading and culling the source articles.
Now, later, or never
As much as I’d like to say I use really cool and sophisticated tools as I’m reading through articles to segment them into groups, I don’t. I just go from tab to tab reading the posts. Some of the posts I’m reading just to stay up to date and I don’t intend them to be post fodder at all, but that number is shrinking because I have more posting destinations than I did when I started out. So as I go through the open tabs I’m skimming, reading, and thinking. Some are closed right away, others I leave open because I think they will be part of a larger post, and others I take action on right away.
Twitter and Posterous—new destinations for content
When I started blogging I essentially only had one posting destination—my blog. Sure I dabbled with social bookmarking sites like Delicious and StumbleUpon, but I used those mostly to help my friends promote their posts. My problem then was I could only write so much in a given day. I really couldn’t post about all the interesting things that I was reading because I just didn’t have the time to spend doing it. Then, as now, I feel that if I’m going to write a post, I’m going to write a post. I want to put thought and care into what I’m putting out there for my readers. Today, however, I have Twitter and Posterous which are great places for short-form content. I use Invoke’s Hootsuite to post quick links to Twitter and my Posterous-based lifestream is where I put things that I want to say more than a few words about, but less than a whole post. Because I have these two newer options, I can share more than I had be recently because it takes only a moment to write a few words. Less pressure to write, easier to share.
I still write posts, but maybe not as many as I used to, I think I’m just getting pickier now.
Pressure to Post Perfection
I’ve been blogging for a long time. No, not the longest, but a long time regardless. I’m part of the old guard, those of us who started before blogging was mainstream. Because I’ve been around for a while I feel a certain pressure to write great stuff, just banging out a post because everyone else is talking about something just won’t do. From this self-imposed perfectionism, I’m posting a lot less than I used to. The time factor is also plays heavily here too, since I want to spend time writing something, I need time to do it. If the time doesn’t present itself that day, often the post isn’t really worth posting. The news has past, people aren’t discussing it and my post becomes a “me too” post rehashing everyone else’s ideas.
When I do make the time to write a post, how I do it is simple. I open Blogo, pick the destination blog from the menu, and start. From my source material I’ve usually chosen the quotes I’m going to use or decided to just link to the post. I’m not the “put an image into every post” blogger that I used to be, so most of my posts are just text.
That’s it. No magic. I sit down with a few tabs open, the ones that made the cut for a long-form post, and write it all out. Generally, like this post, I sit down and do it all at once. No stopping, saving, and opening later (most of the time). If I’m inspired (or happen to have a boon of time), I might bang out another post or two, but those are set to post into the future. This post, in fact, is set to post later. I’m writing it at about 6 AM on a Sunday and since a lot of people aren’t reading blogs at the moment, I’m putting off this post going live until 10:30 AM when I think more folks will be around to read it.