Monday, December 16, 2013
Ask JKM a Question: How Do I Stay Disciplined?
Regular Reader David Brand asks me:
“How do you stay so disciplined? I'm trying to blog but all my attempts on doing it on a semi-regular basis have failed miserably. Life just gets in the way...”
David, I love that question, and I’m honored by it. I’m especially honored that you believe I must be disciplined!
But if I were truly disciplined, I'd be done blogging through 2013 right now and deep into January, 2014, and I’m not quite there yet.
In all seriousness, I try to stay several blog posts ahead, sometimes as much as thirty or forty posts. This doesn’t mean I have filled in the entire calendar. It means I have knocked off the low-hanging fruit so I must only blog three or four times each week, and the rest is “filled in.”
In terms of blogging, I also find that it helps to write on different subjects (toys, TV, movies, writing), and vary up long and short posts where possible, to keep it fresh. It's like juggling, but sometimes I really drop the ball, for sure.
If I’m deep in a book, approaching deadline, or falling behind, I now have a nine year archive of posts, and I’m not shy about popping up an old post and labeling it “from the archive” if things get desperate.
Occasionally, featuring one old post among twenty new posts in a one week period is just the thing to get you over a temporary crisis. Sometimes, as I did recently with Outland (1981), I can go back, use the original post as a template, and re-write, edit, and improve it with new thoughts. That’s one way blogging really beats book writing. I rarely get to back to something in print and fix something I don’t like, or that I didn’t say as elegantly as I might have said in the first place.
So I would suggest that you plan your blog in this way: prepare ten or eleven posts before the next time you go live, and then start scheduling those dozen posts over, say, fifteen days or so. Then, blog three or four times during that period, plug in the holes, and extend the last date by one every time you sit down to write. Before you know it, you’ll have a blog up and running, and it will be functioning on something like a normal daily schedule.
Secondly, I would urge you not to throw in the towel. I’m probably repeating myself here, but blogging is like going to the gym, or exercising: the more you blog regularly, the more you want to blog, and the more you “grow” that muscle.
I always blog first thing in the morning. That’s how I start out the day, before leaping into other projects, like books or essays.
If I haven't blogged by mid-morning, I know I probably won't write at all during the day, and I’ll be kicking myself by nightfall. That's how my brain works. I might as well go play Mario Kart on Joel’s Wii if I’m not deep into blogging by 9:00 or 10:00 am (but preferably by 7:30 or 8:00 am, depending on if it is a school day).
So part of the key to blogging is to understand your own creative rhythm. You might be a night owl, and do all your great thinking at 11:00 pm at night, or so. If so, reserve that hour no matter what, and get blogging.
Great question, my friend!
Readers: Don’t forget to send me your questions at Muirbusiness@yahoo.com
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