I recently spoke to a group of writers and outlined why I blog and the strategy behind it. External and internal links were interesting, book sales generated from blog drew a question or two, but what people really seemed to want to talk about was how I found the time to blog every day.
I was surprised. I thought people would ask more technical questions or where I look for ideas, but the whole issue of time management seemed to have struck a chord. And I am not sure why this surprised me. I have a full-time job that often demands time beyond the 9-5 Monday to Friday, young children who are still fleetingly young enough to enjoy their father’s company, creeping blood pressure that sends me regularly to the gym, and a wife who is incredibly understanding and supportive.
I want to suggest a few best practices that help me, though I need to admit that I find juggling everything into 24 hours to still be incredibly challenging.
1. Know what you want to write before you sit down to blog. I allocate an hour a day to blogging which includes writing, research, finding links and pictures, adding tags and categories. I rarely fit this into the allocated hour, and never would if I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to write. When to think about it? The shower, the commute, on the treadmill… When NOT to think about it? When helping your child with their maths homework, when your partner wants to talk, when the Golden State Warriors are blowing a 20-point lead (it’s your fault!).
2. If you are at your computer during (um) work and an idea comes to you, take a minute to open a new post and write in a few words. It will make it so much easier when you do sit down to blog – you will come off the starting line sprinting.
3. Keep it brief. People don’t want to spend too much time reading, and if they do, then you provide them with links.
4. When you are blogging, you are not reading email, checking the soccer results, or multi-tasking. You are focused and running against a clock.
5. Find a quiet place to write, somewhere where no one can distract you. In my little house, my desk is by the kitchen table – the one we eat from, the one the children use for their homework, the one where any guest not watching TV is going to gravitate to. I rarely can creatively write at my desk. It explains my caffeine intake and why entrepreneurs think they can open a coffee-house on every street corner in Berkeley in the midst of a recession.
Like I said, I am not exactly the perfect example. I am posting every day and have been since October, but I also haven’t been writing. My last two novels were both written in an intense period of time (86,000 words in 100 days, 91,000 words during the summer). I am desperately missing the creativity of writing the story. I have two books ready in my mind, one a sequel to Unwanted Heroes and the other is a sequel to the fantasy novel I wrote with my eldest son.
I guess that sleep is just overrated. Still, I love my family, my job, my writing, and even the gym (at least once I’m there). I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com