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Friday, July 18, 2008

Five Best Ways to Find Blogging Time... Without "Accidentally" Leaving Your Kids at Target

For many of us, blogging appeals because we can do it in short bursts -- read a post while the oatmeal cooks, leave a comment while the baby tries to feed herself applesauce, catch up on a few favorites during lunch hour. But while this works for reading, it doesn't work too well for writing. Writing often requires longer stretches of at least half an hour, and finding the time to keep up with the writing can be difficult. At least, it can if you're not willing to "forget" that you ran errands on a day that the kids don't have daycare, and therefore you should not be getting into the car alone with all those diapers and wipes, and that giant Toblerone bar. *ahem*

So, what's a blogger to do? Here's my countdown of excellent ways to carve our better writing time without anything even resembling negligence being part of the equation.

5. Get less sleep. Granted, this is not the most appealing-sounding option, particularly if your children are under 5, and you're barely sleeping enough as it is. But when all else fails, an occasional late night of blogging can make a big difference in your writing, both in terms of quality and quantity. In the quiet of the house, late at night, it's easier to concentrate, and with the added incentive of the bed calling your name, you'd be amazed at how much more efficient and productive it is possible to be. Especially if you also...

4. Use a focused, larger chunk of time to do nothing but writing. It's so much fun to read other blogs, dip into this life and that story, leave comments, enter conversations. But as we all know, it can be incredibly easy to settle down for an "bit" of blogging and find that three hours have passed effortlessly, what with reading and the laughing and the sense of community... all without writing a single word of your own post. I recommend setting aside one evening, or morning, or coffee hour, or Saturday when a spouse or friend takes the kids to the park, or whatever block of time you can get that is at least two hours long--even if you have to stay up later than normal to get that time--and writing several posts at once. Although you may worry that this will kill your spontaneity, trust me, it won't. If you have some posts in reserve, then on a day when you just don't have time to do anything at all, you can toss up a post that's waiting in the wings. You can always defer posting the pre-written ones if something really funny happens that needs to go up right away -- like, say, the guy at your gym makes you laugh so hard you almost fall off your treadmill, or your daughter covers the freshly-cleaned kitchen with cereal while she's hunting for raisins.

3. The longer writing sessions will go even better if you take advantage of the mental down-time in your day to draft posts in your head. I, for example, wrote nearly all of this post in my head this morning while I was showering, shaving, getting dressed, and commuting to work. That was nearly a full hour of time that I had where I couldn't be doing anything else: multi-tasking while immersed under running water or piloting a vehicle at 70mph down the highway is never a good idea, unless task #2 is going on inside your brain. I plan out posts: where I'll start, how they'll end, what anecdotes they might contain, and I've even been known to write whole sentences or sections in my head, thinking about turns of phrase I particularly like, or even trying sentences out loud to get a feel for them. Occasionally, I'll jot down on real paper a phrase or two that I want to remember, but mostly, I think through the post in really concrete detail, and then make a little mental list or outline for myself of the key points that I need to recall. Though it's been 14 hours since my planning session, and I'm just now finding the time to sit down and write this out, the writing part has been very quick since the thinking work is all done.

Best times to do this kind of planning: while exercising, cooking, commuting, folding laundry, vacuuming, weeding the garden, or sitting through an unbearably dull and not pertinent to you meeting at work that you nonetheless have to attend. The added bonus of doing this is that not only do you get the next day's post planned out, but the mental activity makes the otherwise very boring 40 minutes on the treadmill fly by.

2. Schedule posts ahead of time. I almost never write something and post it immediately. I very rarely have time during the days to write, while my evenings are freer. So in addition to planning posts when my brain is free to focus, and writing multiple ones if I have the time, I also schedule things the night before to post the following morning, or even two days out if I know I have a particularly busy couple of days ahead of me.

1. Choose a physical activity you really enjoy doing, and do that instead. I know this sounds counter-productive, but hear me out. When I was a sophomore in college, I remember being very stressed about work and trying to juggle all the assignments I had due. I got so overwhelmed that I just sat at my desk stressing and staring at the blank paper. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore, so I bundled up, picked up my ice skates, and walked the 1/2 mile to the section of pond that I'd cleared for myself as a private ice rink (golf course adjacent to the campus; meal tray borrowed from the cafeteria used as a shovel). I skated for an hour or more, and then, refreshed and happy, came back to my work much more focused. Even though I'd "wasted" close to two hours, I got everything done with time to spare. Sometimes, to get your mind working, your body needs to recharge. Go for a run, walk in the woods, take the dog to the park, run through the sprinkler with the kids -- it doesn't matter what you do as long as you get the blood flowing and the wind rushing past your ears a little.

Happy Writing!

Oh, and here's a little bonus idea: if you don't fly to San Francisco for a long weekend away from your family, just think about all the many many hours you will have available to you for blogging, hours that you would otherwise be spending in airports, buses, lunch lines, and other awful aspects of travel. Muchas Gracias! MommyPie and Foolery, for buying me HOURS of time this weekend to spend blogging. I can't wait for my Friday workday to end, so I can BlogHerNot with my BlogHus all night long!!


mommypie said...

Wow. Has anyone ever told you you should teach?? (heh heh)

All my planning usually takes place on fast food napkins in the car. And sticky notes at work. And the back of envelopes on the bedside table in the dead of night.

Thanks SO much for participating as an instructor for BlogHerNot '08! Can't wait to see you at the party this weekend! :)

Threeundertwo said...

Seriously, this was as good as a real BlogHer session. So glad I stopped by!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

You really should teach a bloggin seminar...this is very helpful info. I agree about carving out a hunk of time where you won't be interrupted. And for me that means I sleep way less. I'm usually writing the first draft late at night after eveyryone's asleep, and then I put the finishing touches on in the early morning.

I also like your suggestion to keep some posts in reserve. I really need to do that.

Can't wait to attend the next class in Blogging 101, teacher!

Marcy - The Glamorous Life! said...

Great tips.
I am a big big fan of the pre-post.
Somedays I wake up and feel like I could write a novel! I have ideas for posts BURSTING out of me. So I write and write and write....then I post them for one aday for the next weeks. But obviously a day in the week something else will occur I want to post about-so I bump the pre-post and put it even further ahead. Still I struggle with ....get this....TOO many posts. I try to limit to one a day. Very hard for me!

San Diego Momma said...

More excellent advice I realize I never take.

This whole BlogHerNot thing is highlighting all my inadequacies.

But on a positive note, you presented the excellent advice I never take very well.

lattemommy said...

You'd better watch out - a few more posts like that one and they'll be asking you to teach a seminar at BlogHer next year. :)

The Mom said...

If you teach us...we will learn!

LceeL said...

I hope that wasn't YOUR picture, because whoever that was is in serious need of a better fitting bra. I'm just sayin'.

Steph said...

Excellent article...one I really needed to read. Except I'm a comment whore, so yeah. Not comment? Just write? Whaaaa?

Tootsie Farklepants said...

#3 & 4? It's like you're in meh miiiind.

Amy said...

Great tips! I do tend to go for the more spontaneous writing myself. With the four of them, I gotta take my time when I can get it! And my sleep, I cannot give up anymore sleep!

Kristin said...

Great post! I need to make a blogging schedule. So I can always screw up and not follow it.LOL, I'm so bad at staying "caught up". Love your place, thanks for the info!

ModernSingleMomma said...

This was no joke! I learned something! And thanks to you, I may become a better-- or at least more organized blogger. =)
THe "get less sleep" tactic has been my one and only strategy and I'm realizing now its going to kill me ;)
SO happy I've added you to my blog roll, Ms. Mommy Martini!
You are going to be good for me to read daily, and lots of fun too!!

Tara R. said...

I do that whole 'write a post in my head' thing too. I even got a digital recorder to help so I wouldn't forget all my wonderful words. That was until I actually heard my voice... gad! I do keep a notebook with me and write notes at stoplights and during traffic jams. (I have to edit out certain words later though.)

Kelli said...

Thanks for the tips! This is something I really struggle with...in fact, I am typing this one handed as my son is laying on me. Always trying to multitask, but it doesn't always work that well.

I like the several posts at once idea...that would really help me timewise.

IRISHKAT said...

great ideas! I am definitely going to try writing more then one at a time. I am usually so happy to have one done that I celebrate right away!

ithankmymother said...

wow, awesome. thanks so much for this! I love reading a writer that is more organized that this. You really should be a blog-prof. Thanks!

LaRue said...

This is where my procrastination rears its ugly head. I guess I just need to squash it like a bug and make a schedule. Sigh.

foolery said...


You watch me at my (messy, awful) desk, don't you? Because I do ALL of those things! Especially #5, Get Less Sleep.

Except I don't do #1 very much, I mean AT ALL. Okay, you got me.

I write in my head in the shower, on my 1/2 hour commute, pretty much everywhere. But I'll add one thing that I find immensely helpful: I type sentences I like, openers, title ideas, even full-blown posts, in e-mail (I do all of my composing in e-mail), then send it to myself so I can access it from anywhere. It's saved on the server, and it's saved in my e-mail drafts folder. Then, when a post is completely done, I e-mail it to myself (and people who prefer e-mail to web sites).

Wonderful post MT. You really need to teach writing. :)

McMommy said...

Okay...TRULY...ALL JOKING ASIDE....BlogHer 2009 needs you as a REAL speaker!!!

Thanks for the great tips!!

Veggie Mom said...

All most EXCELLENT tips! I often find myself drafting posts in my head (sometimes this habit, though, keeps me from falling asleep at night), and getting "physical" before you tackle a task like writing is recommended by many health experts. My kids are all competitive swimmers, and even though they spend a lot of time working out, they also seem to have more time for their academics, too, because they don't spend as much time farting around as some of their peers.

MommyTime said...

MommyPie, I am so enjoying the parties. Thank you!

Foolery, I am so honored to be inside your head. And what a head it is.

Ah, McMommy and Latte, you are too kind.

Everyone, I'm visiting all of your blogs tonight. Thanks so much for stopping by here, and for all the comments from those of you who are new to me. I'm delighted to meet you all.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

I totally concur with McMommy!

No, I'm SERIOUS. And it's not just the 5th, or was that 6th jello shot talking.

I almost ALWAYS have to write when it's in the wee hours of the morning, when everything else is quiet, or the days when the imp is in Montesorri. The outside distractions otherwise, are too overwhelming.

Most of my planning for what I'm going to write occurs in my personal journal or via a handheld digital voice recorder. If I don't get the idea out of my head and into SOMETHING, it will be lost. Forever. Floating in the vastness of the universe...just like the rest of my brain cells.


Ok time for more jello shots.

flickrlovr said...

Until last weekend, I hadn't done any 'batch blogging' or scheduled posting. But I suddenly had a flash of creativity and ideas for posts (well, I thought so) and I had a few hours, so I blogged it out, and set 'em up to post every day this week. It was easy peasy, and I haven't had to post anything else this week (unless I wanted to).

And I'm glad I'm not the only one that "pre-writes" posts in the car, in my head, on notepads, etc. Thank God. I was feelin' a little wierdynerdy.

Great post Mommy! Thank you much.

Deb@Bird On A Wire said...

so let me get this straight, I'm supposed to schedule time to write??? And all my sticky notes and used envelopes (the ones the bills come in) are supposed to contribute to my time line of posts??? Oh ok. Now that I have that cleared up, I'm going back to vodka shooters and posting because I got a whim or glitter in my drink !
Thanks for participating in Blogernot You're like Mastercard, Priceless!

Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said...

So far the "less sleep" option is working for me. It's 1:30am. I came downstairs half an hour ago to check my email and my reader. I have yet to open Outlook.

Asianmommy said...

I do this, too. The pressure of producing a post every day is too much for me. I always write them in advance.

jen said...

great tips...
unfortunately i always write things in my head in bed at night while trying to catch up on sleep.

believe me...i've written some awesome posts!

but then i wake up...and i don't even remember the topic. argh.

Connie said...

That was so great!

This is exactly what I needed!

Carolina Mama said...

Well said. I love the number 1 ! :) Thanks much.

MommyTime said...

Flickr and Marcy, I love the "batch" writing too -- and I do sometimes end up with too many posts. Marcy, though, I have found that if I stay patient and spread them out, then invariably I hit a very busy or a "dry" spell, and I'm really grateful for those posts in reserve.

Jen, I have that problem too! Sometimes I DREAM the most deathless prose that I then cannot remember. -sigh-

Connie and Carolina mom, thanks for the visit and comments!

Velveteen Mind - Megan said...

I keep hearing "save drafts" and I just never do it. I write something and hit publish, all in one massive swoop. I do, however, do what you suggest and write most of my posts in my head beforehand. Then I can just hammer them out and hit publish.

I can't imagine a world where I have posts lined up, just waiting for me to hit publish. Okay, wait, I can imagine it because that's Blog Nosh Magazine, but you know what I mean.

Still, I feel like it would be like money burning a hole in my pocket and then one day ya'll get hit with three posts in a row, then back to the old two posts a week deal. Ugh. Must get organized.


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