Friday, 13 August 2010

Writing the Blog


Image thanks to Wordle

How do you write your blog?

I’m just sitting here wondering, how do other people write their blogs and what do you get from it? We all have different methods of going about things. Lately I have been going through some Writer’s Block, or Blogger’s Block and whatever I say just comes out as a mangle – well I suppose to me anyway. Maybe it’s a kind of Writer’s dysmorphia where everything I put down looks like it’s been written by a semi-literate five year old. Fortunately I am getting back on track but unfortunately I have a small pile of uncompleted and need-to-start blog posts that I need to write including the last two Harry Potter review blogs so apologies for the higgle-de-piggledy-ness of it all!

So, dear readers, I have some questions for you all:

  1. Do you plan each blog post before you even start writing it? If so how – on a piece of paper or on your computer?
  2. Do you take notes whilst you are reading purposely to help with writing your review?
  3. Do you have a special format for writing reviews so they all have a similar structure to them all?
  4. Do you write a lot of blog posts in advance or do you just write them and then publish them the same day?
  5. What do you do when you just can’t think of anything to write – have you found some books harder to review then others?
  6. What inspires you when writing a blog post?
  7. Do you try to aim for a certain style, or voice or do you just let whatever is inside you flow naturally? Casual as opposed to a more formal essay-mode style?
  8. How long does it typically take you to write a blog post? Do you post it immediately or later?
  9. Are you using Blogger or Wordpress – or anything else? What made you choose that service over the other? Have you used any other blogging websites other then the one you’re using now?
  10. Where do you write it? Do you use a blog editor like Scribefire or Windows Live Writer? Do you save the initial body to a Word document or do you just write and edit it online?
  11. How has your blog changed since you first started it?

To answer my own questions:

1. I don’t sit down and plan everything I post but I often write and re-write it as I go. I’m a pretty rotten planner – never really been able to because I need to see something in its shape before I can really decide what I want to do. So often the first thing I do is just write something fairly rough out and then go back through it and fill in the gaps.

2. No but I often think I should. Sometimes if I leave a review too long and I lose the immediacy of my reaction to the book. Notes would help me jog my memory about how I felt.

3. No, I also think I should try and structure my reviews more. I’ve never been very good at structure because I’m not very good at planning. I usually try to add structure in after I’ve written it – by re-editing it, moving paragraphs around when I float from one thought to the other.

4. No I don’t really – well, yes and no. I have several drafts I’m still writing but I don’t have any completed ones ready and waiting to be posted.

5. Some books are easier to review because I have more to say about them but some books I find hard – because I don’t like talking too much about them due to spoilers. Some books I just plain enjoyed but didn’t resound too deeply with me. If I’m going through writer’s block then I try to write something else, something fresh. If I just sit there trying to force myself to write something it never comes out how I want it. I tend to go off on tangents and ramble a lot and that causes me to lose my way.

6. Inspiration comes from the books I’m reading, other blogs and lately chatting on twitter to all the other bloggers. I really love twitter and it’s a great way to connect with people, plus very interesting to just watch conversations between people.

7. I don’t write formally, but I do try to have a more open, conversational style I suppose. When I’m communicating on message boards etc I even add in a lot of the ums and ers because I tend to just let my fingers type whatever is in my head. On a blog I suppose I might edit those out and I round them off a bit because in the end, a blog is more self indulgent and I am writing with the aim that it’s going to be read.

8. It can take anywhere between half an hour to a couple of hours – but then I might write it in spots and spurts throughout the day or I might sit for a solid amount of time to write it all out.

9. I chose Blogger because it was the one I knew about and it seems the easiest. I did sign up to Wordpress who at the time had a better choice of themes and customisations but it felt complicated and I was used to Blogger.

10. I use Windows Live Writer myself but there are others like Scribefire which you install to your browser and you can just hit F8 and it will pop up however you want it – full screen in another tab or split screen so you can blog and browse websites without switching between tabs. I liked Scribefire but had problems with the titles coming out mangled when I published. I admit I haven’t really used it much since because Windows Live Writer I just find so much easier. It’s a programme that you install to your computer and I find it so much easier to use. I like how you get a full screen to write in rather then that annoying little box.


11. My blog’s only been around for about three months now. Before I used to take part in more memes like the blogger hop and that but I’ve cut down on those now a bit mainly because otherwise it’d all be just too samey. I have a little bit more confidence now and not bothered about making a post every day. I’ve met some fantastic bloggers out there and it’s great feeling more part of the community. I kinda have more of a ‘feeling’ for my blog now and less floaty. How it’ll be in a year’s time though is anyone’s guess!

marble chop

So how do you write your blog and one last question… what does your blog mean to you?


  1. Great questions all of which I can't answer in the little comment box. But, I take notes while I read, kept in spiral notebooks, at this point after having a blogs 3 1/2 years I have several notebooks by now. I then make the decision trans-ponding the written notes to my review on my blog. I do a lot of research on-line on the books or biographical people/authors I've read, often giving additional links, and information I've found. Sometimes it take a while to do 1 book review. Then again the more I liked a book the easier the review will be. Non-fiction books take longer to read and review. I try and be professional and yet not too stoic in my reviews. I feel I've come a long way in these years, hopefully getting better. Even though this is a non paid work, I put all I have in to it as if it were, I take it seriously.

  2. These are such awesome questions!

    I actually plan out my week of posts on iCal and then sit down and write them usually on the weekend or a Monday and schedule them.

    With a family, reading, Twitter! I'm just too busy to do them each day. I do like to do spur-of-the-moment posts though :)

    I don't take notes when I reading, but when I'm on my eReader and see a passage I want to quote I will bookmark it for when I do my review.

    My blog is a part of me. As Annette said we don't get paid for it (well I get a little from g-ads) but I like to make it as professional as I can, and put a lot of time into it.

  3. My blogging has changed since I first started (over a year ago). I am a bit more relaxed about it now. I have a format (which I didn't used to) and that helps to write reviews. I don't usually plan ahead unless there it is a special occasion or I've been asked to post something on a specific date.

    If I really can't think of anything, I don't post. I used to schedule, but it became to stressful for me and I find I enjoy it more if I post something that is a current conversation that I'm having or a thought that I want to express.

    As far as reading, I often use small post its to mark passages of books that I love or hate so I can go back and be refreshed while writing the review.

    It was fun learning more about your process!

  4. Wallace, it's hilarious your name ended up in my Worlde! Hehe!

    Annette, I wish the comment box was better. I also use Live Writer if I'm composing a long comment because if I want to use formatting (links, bold text) I just copy and paste from the source code tab into here and voila!

    I'm a lazy old buzzard and I like making life easier.

    You're all inspiring me to want to take some post its with me because I feel my reviews could do with some improvements to them.

  5. Blogger was the blog host I was familiar with when I started my book blog, but I've never been sorry I went with Wordpress. I find them slightly less buggy.

    Answers to a few questions: I take more notes on reading now than I used to, but part of that is that I've found I like taking notes while I read. I don't always use my notes when I write my reviews, though. With scheduling reviews--I never used to do it, but I've found if I'm able to write and schedule all my reviews for the week on Saturday, I have a lot more time and freedom to visit other people's blogs, which I love!

  6. I'm a spur of the moment poster. I generally review a book within a week of finishing it because I just can't schedule ahead. I'm more of a do as I go person. I think with my jobs through my 20s I always had to finish all my work by the end of the night so I'm not so much of a procrastinator. Even the Friday Coffee Chat posts I'm usually writing on Thursday night at like 10:00pm!

    I will take notes on non-fiction for sure because it's hard to do the book justice otherwise. I like to use little sticky tabs in books now because it's easier to go back and find what I was looking for when I'm writing up a post.

    As for the quality of my posts--I'm a fly by the seat of my pants blogger. School finished a few years ago for me so I feel less inclined to go over everything with a fine toothed comb. If it were a job or a school paper I would be much more careful about what I'm writing. I know that's bad, but this is for fun and enjoyment. I do make an effort not to post too much about blogging and any issues I have with the blogosphere because that makes it kinda unfun, and I think focusing on the fun is better--and honestly, Twitter is hilarious. I love all the banter on Twitter and my blog. I never mean anything personally so I hope people don't take it that way. If they do, I apologize. I'm just a little crazy and trying not to take life too seriously is my goal now. :) < ./tangent over>

  7. Great questions.
    1. No, I just sit down and write the post, no planning ahead.
    2. No. This sometimes gives me problems because I forget things that I would have liked to include in the review. But I hate to interrupt my reading to write down stuff.
    3. Yes, I recently started to use a format (very simple, though) to make it a bit easier and more structured.
    4. I do both. Either write posts and let them sit and tweak them or write something at the spur of the moment and post right away.
    5. Yes I find some books harder to write about than others. But normally once I start writing my mojo comes back. If not, I let it sit for a few days.
    6. Basically exactly what you said.
    7. I try to write the same way I'd talk to a friend. Not formal at all.
    8. Depends. Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes days. I post either immediately or days later...
    9. I use self hosted Wordpress. I just love wordpress. Blogger used to be too limiting, but I suppose it has improved.
    10. I use live writer and love it. You can use it for several blogs at once and some of the plugins are great. Like the one where you can just add html snippets of any kind. Makes using templates so much easier.
    11. I now post more other book related posts than just reviews. My reading time is now more limited than 2 years ago, so I talk about other topics re books.

  8. I love your questions and it gets me thinking... especially your last one. I think my blog is somewhere I can express myself, write what I think, and not worry about who reads it or likes it. It's my own space.

    I try to keep it low-key by not making myself post regularly -- just whenever I feel like it. Although when a few days go by I start to feel a certain restlessness!

  9. Great questions! I'm a very relaxed, very unplanned blogger, haha! I actually started mine as more of a book journal for myself. I'm learning to write reviews as I go. I tend to write a blog post as soon as I have finished a book so that my opinion is fresh and unchanged by other people's reviews/thoughts. (My dog blog is also a spur of the moment thing because posts come from things that seem to offend the dog.)



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