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How I Blog in Five Easy Steps

by Cathy Baker 

Greetings! Today, I’m sharing how I bring a blog post to fruition, as well as what I’m learning along the way. Some parts of the process are more fun than others, but make no mistake—churning out regularly scheduled blog posts each week is hard work. But it’s worth it. Here goes!

It all begins with coffee and complementary music. I write upstairs by the window but it’s muggy hot in the summer. This fall, I hope to blog from the bench seats in Buttercup, our ’63 Shasta Airflyte camper. Wherever I go, Pandora music follows. Nothing boosts my writing power like George Winston’s station. Did I mention it’s free?

What I’m learning: Writing/blogging in the same spot on a consistent basis alerts the brain that it’s time to stop playing and get to work. I’m also learning that Starbucks Cold Brew provides a swifter kick to my energy level than a latte. Go figure. 



Brainstorm. I try to remain aware of how God might prompt a thought or idea. I also plan regular brainstorming sessions with Dee Dee Parker, my go-to stormer. A tiny Moleskin journal (with pen) is tucked in my front purse pocket to fetch promptings, random thoughts, and obscure words. Also, I’m beginning to use Evernote, along with the notes app on my iPhone. 

What I’m learning: I need to consolidate my ideas to two places max. Having them scattered in too many places breeds frustration. 


Peck away anyway. Sometimes an idea comes quickly and fiercely (love those!) but most take their own sweet time. I type anyway. More often than not, once I begin the process of pecking away at the keys, the idea begins to unfold in unexpected and delightful ways. Also—and yes, this is crazy—unless I use the Trebuchet font while working on a post, the idea tends to cross its arms, pout, and storm off. Silly fonts.

What I’m learning: Mentor and friend, Edie Melson, has advised many of us for years (I’m a slow learner) to first type everything in Word and then upload it to Blogger or WordPress. This prevents the loss of our masterpiece if something goes wonky on the site. {While typing the final few words in this post, my delete button became stuck, erasing all the words one-by-one. Um, Lesson learned.}

Spend quality time titling and formatting the post. I kid no one. I’m no Lori Roeleveld when it comes to titling blog posts. I do, however, try to allow plenty of time for developing the right title. For me, “right” would be pithy and SEO friendly, with a hint of panache. See below. 

What I’m learning: I stink at titling. I continue to study online and I’m also learning the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

 
Check grammar, photos, and links. Then do it again. I usually save the photo search for last as I enjoy it the most. I currently use some of my own photos but plan to increase that exponentially in the coming months. For now, I pull from Can Stock Photo (buy credits at minimal cost), Pixabay, and other free sites. I’m always looking to promote others via linking in my posts and including them in the Labels section.

What I’m learning: No post is to be published until I’ve read it aloud at least once. Much is learned when reading our work aloud.

When you consider the above quote, what ONE word best describes your idea of a GREAT blog?

Are You An Active Idea Hunter?

 
“Discovery favors the well-prepared mind.”  -Jerome Bruner  

Thanks to an Amazon birthday gift card (thanks Mom & Steve!) I recently purchased Where Do You Get Your Ideas? A Writer’s Guide to Transforming Notions Into Narratives, by Fred White.

I’ve yet to dive in but admit I couldn’t resist dipping my toes into page 31. The subject? Capturing Ideas In Your Writer’s Notebook. 

Writing down your thoughts, however amorphous, is important because the very effort to capture ideas in words helps to develop them. One of the most fascinating things about becoming an active idea hunter is that very act of hunting for ideas will sharpen both your observational skills and your imaginative skills. Work hard to cultivate the habit of writing down the ideas you’ve hunted down, even before you begin assessing their story potential.


One idea: Here’s an opportunity to practice idea recognition while simultaneously doing housework: Find a cluttered closet, junk drawer, or corner of your attic, basement, or garage and organize it. As you do so, see how many potential story ideas you can recognize in the items you come across. Here are two examples from a closet purging to get you going:

  • Old musical audiotapes from a long-forgotten jazz quartet. Possible idea: What if a jazz enthusiast, recognizing the exceptional talent of this group, sets out to find the individual musicians and reunite them?
  • A cache of holiday greetings from twenty years ago, some from friends and relatives you haven’t heard from since or have since fallen out of favor. Possible idea: What would happen if your main character attempted to reestablish a close friendship (implicit in one of the old greeting cards) that had gone sour for some reason?

How and where do YOU capture ideas? 

I’ve much to learn but you’ll rarely find me without this in a nearby pocket. In it, you’ll find random ideas, quirky words/phrases, and mini notes from Marcia Moston’s devotions, given every month in our writer’s meeting. 

Now to transform my notions into narratives!

Reading and Writing and…

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. -Stephen King, On Writing

So, how does one strike a balance betwixt the two?

I don’t pretend to know, but I have decided to take a pro-active approach in 2012 by devising a reading/writing plan.

Goals:

  • Read at least one book a week, rotating reference types with various genres
  • Write at least one hour a day
  • Maximize pockets of time in between appointments and exercising to read through writer’s magazine subscriptions
  • Keep mini-moleskins handy for serendipitous moments

How do you find time to incorporate both reading and writing into your schedule?

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