I get asked with surprising frequency, "How on earth do you write a blog?" and "how do you come up with so many ideas?" and "if I were going to write a blog, how would I start?". All sorts of blog-related questions come my way as soon as people find out that I write a blog. So I thought I would take this opportunity today to try to answer some of those questions.
Therefore here we go. Blog Writing 101.
Obviously the photo is me sitting at my "desk" getting ready to write today's blog.
So to start with, when I entitled this one, "how to write a blog", the first thing that popped into my head was a song by the late great Harry Nilsson, "How to write a Song" which starts out with:
If you write it on guitar
Place your guitar upon your knee
If you write it on piano
Don't do that
Place your fingers on the
Strings of your guitar
Not your piano
If you write it on piano, don't do that
So this isn't a song and we aren't writing it on a piano or a guitar but we are writing. So the principle applies.
Actually the first part is to have a vehicle for the creation of the blog. I use a site called Weebly. I actually create the blog on the Weebly site and it is then published to both Facebook and my own website: readthybook.com. Tim found the weebly site for me and it suits me just fine. I can import photos as single pictures, a gallery of three or a slide show. With text I can adjust the font, put in bullet points in I wanted to, underline, bold, there all sorts of options. Most of which I never use. I find Weebly to be very user-friendly (read Sam-friendly in particular) and whenever I have a problem, I just write too the nice people at Weebly, they get back to me right away and together we fix whatever the issue is. Nice.
Step two is to have an idea. I keep a little spiral notebook where I am forever scribbling down ideas for future blog posts. I get ideas from everywhere. It could be something I read in the newspaper, or online, or a magazine or a book or heck it might be from the back of a cereal box. It might be something someone said to me that sparks an idea. Ideas come from the photos I take, things that we do, places that we go.... In short ideas come from everywhere. And sometimes ideas come tumbling into my brain so fast and furiously that I have an entire page of ideas at one time. Other times, I sit here in front of the computer with....nothin'. Those days the blogposts I produce are, well lets just say, less than stellar.
Step three is a photo to support that idea. I take pictures all of the time and most often the photos in my blogs are pictures that I take. There are, however, rare occasions when it's not. Those few photos I import - for free - from sites like Shutterfly. I just google "image" and the topic and the possibilities pop up. I "save" the photo to my computer and then download it to the blogsite as I need it. Easy Peasy.
The next step is very important. Essential even.
A place to work. In my case, it's a very messy desk.
It's funny. Normally I am a very tidy person. Extremely tidy even. Perhaps even pathologically tidy. But my desk is a disaster. Stacks of library books, my various notebooks, sometimes magazines, pens, glasses, newspaper articles, my calendar, tissues.....what a mess! Every single day when I'm done writing, I tidy it back up immediately. And within hours, it's a wreck again as I add and subtract things from the pile, write down more ideas, grab this or that, write up lesson plans and work at my desk on other projects. Yes I do things other than write this blog each day. Yeesh.
It seems as if I'm never just doing one thing. I am writing while I am also cooking, or folding clothes, or texting with a friend, writing an email, doing some research or cleaning the house. So I write a little, clean a little, write a little, fold a load of nice warm towels straight from the dryer, write a little, go outside and water my flowers, write a little, bring in the mail, write a little bit, read part of the newspaper.....back and forth, back and forth. It's just how I work. It 's part of the process for me. I think about what I already wrote while I step away and when I come back I usually make a few changes, then I step away again and think about what I'm about to write, come back and write it, then step away again over and over. It can take awhile.
At any rate, I suppose the next issue is the actual writing part. Well, again, I start with the idea. Then the photo to support it. Then it's just a matter of actually typing. Once I get started, it just kind of grows. It's an organic kind of thing. The actual process of writing has always come easily to me. Often I do not know what I'm going to say before I start typing. Ideas continue to pop into my head as I am typing. One things leads me right into the next thing which folds into the next and keeps going until, I guess, I just have nothing more to say on the topic.
One of the really nice things about Weebly is that I can write ahead. What I mean is that some weeks I just have days that are so chokablok with appointments and other obligations that I don't have time to write. So I plan ahead. A day or two before I will write several blog posts and schedule them to be published for the days I do not have time to write. I might, for example, write Mondays post early Monday morning and then in the afternoon write Tuesday's post but schedule it to be published on Tuesday. Sneaky but handy.
So that's it I guess. How to write a blog. Or at least how I write my blog. I know that most blogs have a specific topic. Mine kind of doesn't. And that is the other most commonly asked question of me, 'What's your blog about?" I don't really have a good answer for that. I just write whatever I feel like writing about, whatever ideas pop into my head.
Now that I think about it, I must be the most self-centered person on the planet. What do I write about? I write about me! 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and I've been doing this for nearly 3 years now! Holy Cats! And you lovely people are kind enough to keep coming back and reading it.
I suppose that does lead to the last most asked question which is "how do you get other people to read your blog". But I don't really have an answer for that. When I first started writing this, I told a few close friends and family members that I was going to give this Blog thing a whirl and I didn't have high hopes. In fact I had zero expectations. None. I honestly thought that I would babble onto some blog posts for a few weeks, maybe a month, have a pity readership of a few loyal friends and then it would piddle away into nothing.
But instead, to my surprise, my readership continues to grow. I have no idea how it happened. Honestly not a clue. But I'm pleased, I'm shocked, I'm delighted, I'm surprised and more than little baffled as to how it all happened. But, I guess as long as you keep reading and ideas keep coming to me, this blog will keep on happening.
So thank you all of my readers - without you this Blog would probably not exist.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.