Creating a Post: My Process

WTL recently asked me to explain more on how I get from a blank screen to a published post. Writing on nearly a dozen blogs in many different niches, while making sure to leave time to do other things in the day can be quite difficult, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself.

The Ideas

First off, I highly recommend brainstorming. Sit down, come up with a few ideas. If you are having troubles coming up with anything, look at other blogs in your niche, and see what they have been writing for the past month. Also, write down some keywords of what you want your blog to be about. Between your competition, some keywords and your imagination, you should be able to come up with a few ideas.

A good number of ideas is around twenty. If you haven’t gotten to that point in your brainstorming list, then check out more competitors, do some searches on Technorati and Google’s Blog Search to see what others have written about in regards to the keywords you have come up with. I don’t recommend stealing post ideas, but there is nothing better than reading someone’s opinion than making you realize what you want to write about.

Maximum Time Spent: 20 minutes

Fleshing it Out

Look at your list of ideas, are there any ideas that could be merged into one post? Are there any ideas that could be changed into a few posts? Go through and begin grouping ideas together, and creating new ideas off what you have already listed.

Then when it is time to sit down and write a post, take one of your more fully formed ideas, and begin adding to it. You don’t have to start at the beginning. Just write whatever comes to mind in regards to your idea. I sometimes find that it helps to come up with a title, as it helps set the tone and give a container on what the post will be about.

You should always try to come up with some power phrases. These are sentences that draw the reader in. I find quoting other people can be helpful in creating a strong phrase, or thinking of a one sentence summary that wraps everything up. Closing your post with a strong conclusion can sometimes take a great deal of skill, but when you do it right, it can be very satisfying.

Fleshing out a topic should only take you about five or ten minutes. Don’t give it too much time. Sometimes I just do a bunch of bulleted points I want to make sure I cover in the article.

Maximum Time Spent: 10 minutes

Rough Draft

So now that we have some of what will be the skeleton of the article, it is time to write the rough draft. Again, you don’t have to start from the beginning, but I find that my articles flow better if I do. This really depends on your writing style.

I suggest that when you are doing your rough draft, the only thing you worry about is your spelling. You can later come back and fix grammar, sentences that run on forever and other little things. During this phase, you should be writing as much as you can. I actually delete about a fifth of everything that I write in any one article.

Maximum Time Spent: 20 minutes

Edit

In WordPress, this is where I save my article and check the preview. I find that I am horrible at editing when I am in the write screen, and miss so many errors, but I notice them much faster when I look at what it will be like published on my site. The same old tricks apply as writing anything else: read it out loud, look through it backwards, and check it over twice. I try not to take too much time editing, though I think the “spelling and grammar nazi’s” hate me for it, many of my mistakes don’t ruin the message I am trying to convey.

That being said, I do try to maintain a reasonable writing quality on all the posts I create.

Maximum Time Spent: 5 minutes

Post

So now that I have an article that is edited for spelling and grammar, I quickly go back and change certain text to links, bold some text, add headings and images to really make the post organized, clean and fit my style.

I select one or two categories that I think it will fit in nicely, and click post. I then check the article one last time, reading it over, and looking at the headings, and changing things that need to be changed to make the post look and feel perfect.

Maximum Time Spent: 5 minutes

Repeat

Then it is all about repetition. The average post takes me about forty minutes to write, but that is not including research time, nor brainstorming time. The good thing about trying to come up with ideas is that I can come up with a dozen or two in one sitting, thus opening up a large number of ideas I can tackle in future posts, including leaving me a wealth of ideas to use when I come up dry on my brainstorming sessions.

At forty minutes a post, add on some research time, a break between each post, and you have around an hour each five hundred word post. With a pace like that you can do upwards of seven or so high quality posts a day if you are a full time blogger, and maybe two a day in the evenings if you are only part-time.

Other Tips

Don’t let a post linger – Try not to let your post ideas be slowly developed, take the time to write them out now, or delete them. I used to have many drafts in various stages of development, but then the idea gets stale, or changes in your mind. Get it out to the world while its fresh. If you think it is going to take you a long time to write, break it down into pieces and change it into a series.

Write often – The more you write, the faster you will get. I can do about eighty or more words per minute, and my spelling and grammar have improved. I have to take more breaks now that I swear my wrists and hands are fairly damaged, but when I can write, I write fast.

Enjoy it – If you are not writing about something you enjoy, then it won’t be any good, even if you are being paid the “big bucks”. I know this from experience. Stick to what you enjoy, and the words will pour out of your brain much faster.

What’s your writing process? Leave a comment below, or write a post about it on your own blog, and link back to this one.

9 thoughts on “Creating a Post: My Process

  1. bLuefRogX

    Great advice, I’m always stuck when I think about how to start on a new post. Well, I’m off to read the ‘competition’s’ blogs to find out some new ideas for my next article, thanks.

  2. SF

    Hi,
    that’s really cool to hear that you take just 20 minutes to write a post. In general i take around 15 minutes to write the post, but the research time is more than 2 hours. I will try to follow your blueprint and come back with my experience.

  3. WTL

    I do a fair amount of brainstorming – I have a directory with a bunch of text files in it that have the potential blog post title and in it is the post – or the notes associated with the post.

    I usually use Writeroom or Textmate, depending on my mood , for the note taking and writing.

    My biggest problem, I think, is that I let the posts linger. I think this is partially because I spent a fair amount of time researching or testing things beforehand. Or, some of the posts take months to acquire data (see the new M&M post, for example). I have another under development that is 16 months in the works.

    I will try to apply what you have suggested, though. Most posts, more often!

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  5. Interwebhunt

    Great post, I use a similar process myself. The best part is definitely not to leave posts laying around in draft stages. I’ve found that to be a graveyard for good ideas. Put articles out for consumption as soon as you can.

  6. Fab

    Thanks for these tips. I use Google Notebook for storing title ideas…
    Coming up with ideas is not too bad for me. Writing is hardest. English is not my native language and I spend a lot of time turning my sentences around. That’s also why I would like to host some guest posts in the future.

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