Friday, January 9, 2015

Clean Up to Blog Better




I love organizing. And while a lot of people are busy these first few days of the new year trying to organize their homes and their schedules, it occurred to me that a similar kind of clean-up can also benefit my life as a blogger/ writer. If you're anything like mefinding it harder than expected to kick-start your writing this new yearthese three simple steps might just do the trick. At the very least, it gives you something concrete to start working on. Incorporating these practical habits into your routine will help bring you closer to your goal of becoming a more focused and committed blogger.


1. Clean your physical work space

I understand that different people have different work styles and preferences. But personally, I just function better when I have an organized and relatively calming surrounding. So for the past few days, I've taken the time to get rid of the holiday mess that seemed to have piled up in my office. Gift ribbons, holiday wrappers, greeting cards, bills, and junk mail all had to be either put away or shredded. I needed my desk to breathe again and for the surface to show. The simple reality is that the more organization I saw, the less distraction I had, allowing me to focus more on the real work ahead.

2. Clean your virtual space

As a writer / blogger, I spend an insane amount of time on the computer writing my essays and engaging in a host of other activities that go with online publishing: research, reading other articles for inspiration, gathering blog images, and looking at publication opportunities, among other things. On a typical day, you'd see my computer screen with no less than five tabs open (and that's being very conservative) and most of the time, I end up bookmarking various sites for future reference. Though I've created folders and subfolders with even more subfolders in an attempt to organize these gazillion bookmarks, I've found that it has simply gone out of control. It was time to clean this space if I want to be able to work more efficiently and pull out my writing resources more quickly when needed. Some links were too old and were no longer active sites and therefore had to be deleted. The same goes for the publication opportunities with expired deadlines. Some links were misfiled or mislabeled and therefore had to be moved to the proper folder. 

Starting this year, I also decided to create and work off of an editorial calendar. Yes, believe it or not, I've never made one for myself all these years but have now discovered its advantages. It's never too late to at least try to do better, even for someone who's been doing this for roughly six years! For one, I'd be forced to plan ahead instead of perpetually torturing myself to come up with topics to write about. Using an editorial calendar will also (hopefully) make me more disciplined as it puts more structure into my weekly schedule, guiding me with tasks that I need to focus on (e.g. writing fresh content for Catharsis, revisiting evergreen content, submitting existing or new material for publication to other sites or anthologies). If you need ideas to spruce up your editorial calendar, you might want to check out this Pinterest board by Susan Maccarelli of Beyond Your Blog. It's a valuable resource.

All this virtual space organization took (and will continue to take) a lot of time and patience but I knew this clean-up had to be done and needs a constant renewal of commitment if I want to fulfill my promise to myself to become a more organized and focused blogger starting this year.

3. Clean your mental clutter


This is the most important and most challenging clean-up involved if you are serious about being better at your craft. To me, it's not so much as simply being able to concentrate and remain focused in order to accomplish my writing. More importantly, it's the need to rid my mind of the unnecessary noise, the mental obstacles that make 'wanting' and 'planning' too comfortable for me, and as a result keep me from 'doing', 'executing'. These noises or voices are the ones telling me that I shouldn't write unless it's perfect, or highly profound, relevant, something other editors will love and end up publishing on their sites; the ones telling me that my voice is not unique, that I'll never be as good as those other writers, or that no one listens and that none of this matters.

I know that the voice I need to amplify is the one that says I just need to keep writing and stop judging myself. Each of us has a story to tell. It doesn't have to be highly dramatic, heartbreaking or remarkably life-altering. Having some form of trauma, abuse or some unusual life story are not prerequisites to good writing. All that's needed is authenticity, the courage to write YOUR story, YOUR truth, in YOUR own voice. That is all, and that's the best place to start from.


Which of these techniques work for you? Are there other 'clean-ups' that help you blog more efficiently?

9 comments:

  1. This is my weakness...it's amazing i get anything done, given my cluttery office.

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  2. Good comments. I spent a lot of time this week cleaning out email and getting rid of newsletter subscriptions that I never open. Deleted 1000's of old emails. Now going through content folders for blog and book ideas. I need to start using a blog planner too rather than waiting for inspiration to write a post or two.

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  3. Very well written Joy. I'm with you - I need a clean, calm space for my writing or I just get distracted. I bought an actual blog planner this year, and I can't believe how much it has helped me start to focus on the way forward for my blog. Have a great weekend!

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  4. Joy the 'clean-up' is a wonderful feeling, like a creative detox! For me the physical and cyber space clean-ups work like therapy, they soothe and give me solace, but the mental clean-up is crux of true action. This is the one that empowers and enables my work to flourish! My mantra is; 'write with passion and perseverance, without procrastinating!' From Lisa Kniebe at mummy2mum

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  5. This is so great, Joy! Very true that all three areas need attention: the physical, virtual, and emotional. Great ideas to get the ball rolling.

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  6. I am completely unorganized! Wanna come help me?

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  7. I need to work on de-cluttering the mental obstacles, for sure!!

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  8. I'm getting there well at least I thought I was. I took two weeks off to get organized for the New Year but ended up spending most of it with the new babies. Now I'm wondering if I will ever get caught up!

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Let me know your thoughts!