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Blog to Book: 8 Steps to a Writing Routine


Now that we got that out of the way, and you have declared yourself a writer, it’s time to get on with the business of creating a writing routine that ensures you maximum success as a family history blogger.

I want you up to create a routine that will produce regular blog posts, that will work with your schedule and will ensure consistency. Once you become a more consistent writer, you'll establish a rhythm which helps trigger an on going supply of writing ideas. Becoming consistent will also establish a strong readership. Because your writing more consistently your writing will improve. Quite simply the more you write the better you get, the more ideas you generate and the bigger your audience will become. Sounds simple right.

Let's Take a look at 8 Steps to a Writing Routine 


1. Create an editorial calendar for your family history blog.

This essentially is a long-term plan for your blog with goals and deadlines. I like to create a month by month outline of blog posts. You can do this on whatever calendar program you like. I prefer Outlook, I have a separate blogging calendar where I schedule my blog posts. By the last week of each month I’m identifying a calendar for the next month. Magazines use this technique to plan their issues months ahead of time. I don’t believe blogging should have the same long-term planning strategies that magazines employ. However, I do feel for the purposes of a family history blog an editorial calendar in conjunction with your book outline can be a great planning tool.

2. Create a regular schedule for posting.

By using the editorial calendar you'll identify your posting days. I try to post 3 times a week. I try to push out posts on the same day and at the same time every day. Some weeks I deviate from this, I'll experiment with a different day or just plain need a little more time for a more involved post. But for the most part I post regularly 3 days a week.

You can post more often in the beginning, this will help you to establish a regular group of readers especially if your blog is new and you want to grab a lot of attention early on.

Try having some blog posts ready ahead of time. I try to write a week in advance with the exception of time sensitive posts like Monday Morning Mentions. However, remember to be flexible, sometimes inspiration hits, and you may want to adjust your schedule. If you feel a calling to write something follow your instincts don’t be a slave to the schedule. If you miss a day cut yourself some slack. Shit happens. Posting quality over quantity is key.

For the weeks when I'm traveling or on holidays I try to have posts ready ahead of time or I plan reposts of some of my more popular articles. Your readers will cut you some slack during these times but they won’t wait around for long so don't lean on this too often.

3. Keep an ongoing list of blog content ideas

While your writing this month’s family history blog posts, keep a running lists of content ideas for next month.  This way you’ll establish a good habit of continually thinking ahead never feeling at a loss for something to write. There should always be an ongoing plan.

I keep a file in Evernote with my ongoing ideas, they are tagged by topic. When I’m ready to develop them further they move to my mindmapping software where I brainstorm ideas and flush out an outline. I rely on  this particularly for my series articles which I do a lot of on the AG. Sometimes they'll just be a quick outline to sort out my thoughts and I begin to write. It all depends on the topic and the amount of information I'm covering. From there they move to my editorial calendar. They get scheduled for a posting deadline.

4. Create a task list and a timeline.

Once they hit my editorial calendar, I identify the tasks required to write a particular blog post. Some may require more research then others. I also allow time for revisions and editing. Sometimes that can all happen in a day sometimes it may require a couple of weeks. Create a task list, then working backwards from your deadline schedule those tasks into your calendar. Most writer’s rely heavily on deadlines to complete writing assignments, blogging shouldn’t be any different especially if you want to produce quality content on a regular basis.

5. Identify writing time in your schedule and plan.

Remember you are a writer you are entitled to this time. Choose a time in your day that suits your schedule and lifestyle. Morning, evening, lunch breaks and plan your necessary tasks into your schedule. If you are not scheduling serious time to write your family history blog posts you'll always feel like your rushed and scraping by. You'll eventually tire of this, feel out of control and give up.

6. Identify your most creative hours of the day.

How do you do that? Believe or not there’s an app for that. Check out toggl.com. If you have the flexibility in your schedule, you may want to monitor your peak creative times through this app and then if your schedule is flexible enough you can plan your time accordingly.

You have to know yourself and under what conditions you do your best work and then don't be afraid to ask your family to accommodate your requests. It goes back to owning what you're doing here!

7. Create a writing ritual. 

Develop some triggers that send a signal your mind that it’s time to write. Maybe those rituals include sitting in the same chair every day with a coffee or cup of tea in hand, a particular pen and notebook by your side, and even a favourite blanket on your lap. Do you require some background music or complete silence? These cues when used regularly can trigger you into a readiness to write.

Removing distractions can all also trigger your readiness to write. Turning off the cellphone, email and social media can settle your mind giving yourself permission to write uninterrupted.

Here's what I liked to do when I needed to get serious about writing. I turned off all social media, and phones. I set my timer (a kitchen egg timer- I set for 30 minutes) and I begin. Even if the telephone rings I do not stop to answer it. It's about stating this is a priority! When the timer goes off, I take a 5 minutes break, get a drink, stretch, check who called. I set the timer and repeat. I used this regularly when I first started writing. I can now write in 5-6 hour stretches in the right conditions with little more then a few breaks. I can get a lot accomplished using this method. If you have kids it's also a cue to them, when the timer goes off Mommy's available.

I don't use the timer too often anymore, you're needs will change as you begin to develop good habits and it will all begin to come quite naturally.

8. Adjust.

If something isn’t working with your schedule be flexible and adjust accordingly. No one figures it out immediately right out of the gate. It might require some trial and error but eventually you’ll find the time and space that works for you.

Writing just doesn't happen. At the end of the day, the difference between a writer who produces and a writer who doesn't is the commitment to the work! That work only happens when you plan your projects and schedule your butt in the chair.

How do you ensure a time and space to write your family history blog? 
Love to hear from you! 


15 comments:

  1. Oh how I WISH! As a deli manager by day with a very hectic, physically & sometimes emotionally draining schedule, I have just now gotten a routine down whereby I push myself to write. Writing the blog post usually comes in steps with the need of getting just a bit more detail to round it out.

    I don't have a schedule for publishing, and I note on my blog stats that my daily readership graph looks just like the great Smoky Mountains where I live. I am aware that I need to make it more regular than twice a week; but sometimes I just don't seem to have all the info together to do it.

    With limited time...still have to pack for 3-4 boxes per day for moving in early November...still have daily chores around the house (and I am a very RELAXED housekeeper, doing little bits each day)...if I were to schedule so much, I don't see how I'd have any time left to write.

    I know that after we get settled in to our new, larger apartment where I'll finally have my own office again, I need to reorganize & digitize documentation. That's a huge task in itself. But, I am hoping to work on it as needed for working on the book. Perhaps that way I can stay focused.

    So much for ritual and time. As for how I direct my writing, I have collected a series of blog prompts and guidelines for certain aspects of writing a memoir which I have printed and organized by the steps I want to follow for my writing. I also have several large calendars which have the life events of each character written on them so I could visualize how all the lives blend together. I still have some more work to do on them. My book outline is formatted on Scrivener...and I am looking forward to your next video lesson for Scrivener so I can get it better developed.

    I am still working with some aspects of trying to fill in things like: describing a character you have never seen and for whom you have no photos. Let's just say it takes a bit of creativity for me to figure it out based on facts collected from their later life. I'll be writing about this on my next blog post at In Black and White: Cross-Cultural Genealogy.
    http://www.ibawcross-culturalgenealogy.blogspot.com

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  2. Thanks for sharing Debra, there is no doubt it's not easy and a constant juggling act that sometimes comes crashing down, but as writers, we have no choice, we want and need to write. We pick-up and keep going as clearly you understand. Your doing great and clearly you have plan although it may seem a little chaotic at times. You're an inspiration.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I think you've been such an inspiration to me this past year! I know that eventually things will begin to flow better.

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  3. @saveverystep Thanks for stopping by really do appreciate it. If readers just find one small tip they can implement that moves them closer to their goals I'm thrilled.

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  4. Thanks, Lynn, for some very useful tips I tend to use the Draft Posts facility on Blogger to help me plan my writing. Sometimes this is little more than typing in a tentative title, an idea to develop further, or a response to a blog prompt, but it is listed there as a constant reminder. And yes, some of my best ideas do occur to me during the night! My original aim was to post once a week, but I am now so addicted, I am well ahead of this target - helped by the weekly prompts where there is a natural incentive to keep up with the series e.g. A-Z Challanges and Sepia Saturday. As for rituals, I have one key one - I cannot work at the computer without switching my favourite radio programme on - Classic FM.

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  5. Once again, Lynn, your timing is impeccable. Over my vacation, I spent time thinking about "best practices" to improve my skills, variation on my subjects, planning and coordinating in my blog... and here you are. I didn't even realize I had created at least one triggering habit - the tea. I have found I cannot write without it. Anyway, thanks for all of this, very good stuff, and I'm looking forward to more in the series. ~ Jen

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  6. Thanks Sue for sharing your tips, there are as many options as there are writers. Yes, the memes are great for creating a regular blogging routine. Ah...see you like Classic FM, I like silence, need to hear the voices in my head.

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  7. Hi Jen, always happy to provoke a few ideas. Happy it helped. It's always good to be looking at ways of taking things to the next level.

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  8. Thanks for those ideas, Lynne. I still have another year to work part-time, then I hope to plan to write on a regular basis. Until then, I have to work around the boss's schedule. But writing out the ideas is something I could do. Sometimes I can't sleep at night because the ideas are swimming around in my head, and I know they'll swim right out my ear before the morning light, so I get up and scratch 'em down. Then I sleep better. Now, come next week, I'm going to check out some of those sites you mentioned. Better diarize that, ha!

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  9. I especially like #7 -- create a writing ritual. Find ways to shut the world out for a few hours so that you can "let yourself" (rather than "make yourself") get your head into a good zone for writing. Thanks for recommending stretching. For me, it takes the Big Relax. I used to put a sign on the computer room door that said, Mom Is Writing. My kids--teenage then--enjoyed making fun of that sign. But to some extent (it's always to some extent--as you say wisely, "adjust") the sign did its job.

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  10. Peg, I can so relate to both working around other people's schedules and lying awake at night with ideas swimming in your head. I do the same, have to get up and write them down. I have notepads in just about every room of my house as well as on both computers and my phone. Managing my notes sometimes becomes a job on its own.

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  11. Thanks Mariann, I like #7 as well. Many under estimate the value of writing rituals. It's no different then an athlete who has their routine before a game, the mindset is very important. While I have no sign on my door, in my house there is mutual understanding when the door is closed. When you work from home sometimes it's the only way to define your space.

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  12. I'm really enjoying your posts, Lynn, especially this one! I am a writer (yay!) but terribly sidetracked between freelance, blogging, my family history novel, and oh, yes, part-time jobs. I hope I'm on the verge of breaking through to a routine, but so far I've been distracted and unfocused.
    BTW, could you please stop that Twitter bird from hopping around? Non-stop animation makes it hard to read your great content.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth, thanks for the kind words. I hear you balancing it all is a constant. And yes, the little bird is flying the coup soon.

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