Three Benefits of Writing to a Schedule

While I finish a week of banishment from the internet, a result of my recent move, my friend Josh has graciously agreed to write a guest blog on Parttimenovel.

Josh is a fellow member of my Weaklings writer’s group who is in pursuit of publication. I hope you find this post insightful. I know I did, as I also listened to Andrew’s presentation at Baker Book Store and was inspired to start a blog. Please visit their blogs at Josh Mosey Writer and Tell Better Stories.

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My good friend Bob Evenhouse was the one who inspired me to start my blog, but it was another Weakling  who gave me some helpful tips about how to actually do it.

A while back, I had the pleasure of co-leading a seminar at the Breathe Writer’s Conference with my friend and former co-worker, Andrew Rogers. Andrew and I met through working at my bookstore, but it wasn’t long before his talents were stolen away by local (yet global) publisher, Zondervan. The session we led at the writer’s conference was titled something like “Marketing 101: What bookstores and publishers want from authors”. It was supposed to be an hour long session with the last 15 minutes reserved for questions. We were each going to take a few minutes to introduce ourselves and our platforms and then speak for about 20 minutes on our individual subjects. Much of what I said, I’ve included in my Bookstore Symbiosis posts, but Andrew talked about online marketing tools and the author’s brand and other cool things. By the time he was done, people didn’t want to wait for the appropriate Q&A time and I ended up with about 10 minutes to go through my presentation. But I wished he would have continued without having to stop for me. It was so good.

Among the things he said was one nugget that stuck with me, even though it would be a few years before I started my own blog. He said that when just starting out, write to a schedule. Make a plan for your posts and stick with it. My personal blog schedule started out like this: Monday – Autobiographical, Tuesday – Character feature from one of my novels, Wednesday – Book Review, Thursday – Writing Tips or Inspiration, Friday – Links and Report Card, Saturday and Sunday – Relax.

When I scheduled my posts like this, my previous concerns about starting a blog and then not having anything to say proved to be unfounded. All I had to do was come up with a post that fit the theme of that day. With a little direction, I had no trouble coming up with content. So the first benefit is always having a prompt.

Another thing I noticed with my post schedule was that I was allowing myself a variety of ways to relate to other people. By choosing a different prompt each day, I could allow people to see something about my past, my writing, my taste in books, and what I found interesting enough to link to. I was allowed to be well-rounded.

Last, by having a schedule, I forced myself to be consistent in my posting. In blogging, I’ve found that sporadic posts mean a low readership. It is difficult for people to build reading your blog into their routine when they have no idea when to expect a new post from you. And if you decide to post a whole string of posts in one day, there’s a good chance that your followers won’t follow for long since no one likes being force-fed for long. It doesn’t matter as much whether you post daily or once a week, as long as people know what to expect. By setting a schedule, you’ll know what to expect of yourself, and your readers will know what they have to look forward to.

Thanks for reading!

The Writing Life: You Never Know What You Might Have

Since I challenged myself to write 500 words three weeks ago, I did not miss writing an entry on a single weekday. Until, alas, last Thursday morning.

I was in my daughter June’s room and we had just finished playing with some of her toy animals. I usually slap  together a blog in the wee hours each morning before departing for work. For what was the first time in a long time I wrote the entry the previous evening and brought the laptop into June’s room to do a bit of light editing before I rushed out the door. What I discovered after the night of usual broken sleep was horrifying.

It was terrible. I have no idea what creature got a hold of my laptop that night while I was sleeping (perhaps it was my cat Bandit) but they destroyed the perfect gem of a blog I composed the previous evening. I remembered nostalgically, as I sipped on my peppermint tea, that it was a brilliant work, a post worth showing the world. Then, as I looked at the sad sad piece, I saw nothing of worth and nearly deleted the entry altogether.

A Happy, But Tired, Morning

My wife Cindy helps with my editing and, because I desperately need it, I shoved the computer in her direction to get her thoughts. She scanned the page with her blue eyes then looked at me with an apologetic smile.

“What do you think?” I asked knowing the answer.

“Well”, she said twisting her mouth in dissatisfaction, “It’s bland.”

I nodded, closed the computer, and went to work.

Now, someone once told me that the first three days of the work week tend to be high traffic times for blogs. If there is anything trendy or worthwhile to post, post it then so as to get the highest hits possible. This was my reason for not posting that day. I thought, hey, what’s the point? Thursday doesn’t matter. I’ll post tomorrow.

Then, in a flash, it was Friday morning and I had written nothing. I had the draft of that blog from the previous day, and no time to write something new. So, I spiced it up a bit, put in a few anecdotes, and clicked the publish button. I think it was still loading when I raced out the door.

By the end of the day, it was my second highest traffic day for my blog, ever. So the reason I put this post on a Monday morning is to encourage you, writer, to put yourself out there this week.

If you have a novel on the shelf, dust that baby off and start sending it to agents! If you have an idea for a blog, or an article, get started on it. If you have an opportunity to do something great don’t sleep in and don’t let it go to waste. For, you may never know what you might have. It might be nothing. Or, perhaps, it might be something unexpected. Something that in return receives, not that canned rejection letter, but one that says, “We are thrilled to inform you that…”

Come on. Let this be a good week for you, writer. Get devoted to your craft.

Cheers,

Bob