Writing out of the blog rut

16 03 2010

With spring break behind us, we (meaning Penn State students) are now nine weeks into the semester, with only six left to go; and this lovely blog of mine has been kicking for 8 weeks and 6 days, or 62  days since I first created it for my Adolescent Literature and teacher preparation course at Penn State. Being almost nine weeks into blogging, so many weeks into the school year and only six weeks from the end, I’ve  felt my own desire and drive to blog dragging over the past several weeks, and I’ve heard these same feelings from many of my classmates. In search of some inspiration and good ole’ blog writing material, The Thinking Stick pulled through for me yet again (I really can’t say enough good things about this blog). This time, the top post on Jeff Utecht’s blog is entitled, Blogging Process – Find Your Flow! (Too perfect, right?)

Of course, please go to Utecht’s blog to read his actual post which includes pictures, more links, and all of his wonderful ideas! Below are the six suggestions Jeff made in his post, to help “Find Your Flow” in the blogging process – they helped drag me out of my blog rut:

1. Blog topics are all around you

You are passionate about something whether teaching, technology, your kids or your car. Be passionate and writing is easy. If your not passionate about the post, or idea, you’ll know cause you just won’t do it. This makes it hard when a teacher (like me) asks you to blog about something you might not be passionate about. That makes blogging an assignment….not real blogging. Real blogging is about you….about your thoughts, your feelings, your ideas…..the blogging you do for classroom, is just classwork.

2. Write down ideas or topics
At least two or three times a day I think to myself “that’s a blog topic” and for a while I would sit down to write a blog post and not be able to remember what it was that spurred that moments thought. So I’ve started writing blog topic ideas down. I use the stickies app on my MacBook and Google Tasks via a Chrome extension that lets me quickly jot down topics. I also have a notebook in my backpack for those times when a computer isn’t near to jot stuff down in. Everything from grocery lists, to blog topics. Lastly, I use my iPhone where I have a page of notes that are blog topics. No, you don’t have to have as many places as I do, but I know those are the spots I look for when I have time. Not all ideas make it to a full blog post, some get crossed out, others get folded into each other. It’s the brainstorm phase of writing….just like we teach kids.

3. Keeping web pages organized

This came up in class yesterday. How do you keep all those sites open, or organize that you want to talk about in a blog post? In Firefox I use an extension called Tabloc that allows me to ‘Lock’ a tab (still looking for a good one for Chrome is anyone has one!). So if my browser closes or I need to restart those tabs that are locked, stay safe and saved. I also have gotten better at tagging web pages in Diigo and using the highlight features as well. Social bookmarking takes time to understand and time to find out how tagging works and how to use it for you. I have a system that works for me and I’m going on 5 years without using bookmarks within my browser…..everything is in Diigo and Delicious (which are connected so when I save to Diigo it auto-saves it to Delicious….a perfect backup system!)

4. Find a blogging interface that works for you.

5. Finding your Flow
In the end….I think it’s about finding your flow. Some people blog at the same time every day. I know Kim Cofino (cause we talk about this kind of stuff in the office) does most of her blogging on the weekend, because that’s what works for her. I found that I need it cool, I blog better, ideas flow when I’m in a cooler temperature. So I either blog in my home office with the A/C on or here on the couch with a fan blowing on me to keep me cool. I didn’t realize this was an issue for a long time here in Bangkok. It’s only been about 6 months that I realize I don’t write because I’m uncomfortable, hot, sticky, and not in a thinking mode.

Find your flow, find which time/day works for you, what place, which application. Take time to try things out. I’m constantly looking for another blogging application to replace ScribeFire and just haven’t found one that I like better…that enhances my flow of ideas and process of writing.

6. Write to your community ~ Know your audience

from: Blogging Process – Finding Your Flow

– – –

Utecht’s post began after a great discussion he had in a course around “how blogging was going for those in the class. All of them just 5 weeks into blogging. It was interesting to hear that many of them say blogging as publishing. That they had a lot of drafts waiting to be published but they wanted them to be “perfect” or “publishable”.” This is also one of my weaknesses when it comes to blogging. Because I also view blogging in a more formal way, as publishing, the creation of my posts is incredibly time consuming and tiring.

In Utecht’s post was a link to a post by Miguel Guhlin entitled, Why Blog. I also found Guhlin’s blog to be helpful and enjoyable to read. His post focuses more on how he goes about developing his posts for his blog: “While I’ve certainly written about WHY I blog, and write, I haven’t reflected on how I go about developing posts for my blog.” His post contains literary references and excerpts, beautiful pictures, and some awesome thoughts and ideas – definitely worth reading! These are the five main bullet points to his post (and my favorite excerpts from them – I couldn’t resist putting them in here)  – seriously, his post is worth reading:

1) Writing flows from a moment captured by the voyager; I am he.

2) I write to transform my experiences.

“Often I sit down at a computer and, unbidden, like a spring flowing, the words begin to come. In fact, that is the mental image I have of writing–a flowing spring, a well in the desert. Sometimes, that well is empty and dry, but the waters of the spring lurk beneath the sand and grit of everyday, endure beneath the searing sun. So beautiful.

I’m doing it now, the writing flowing from a spring. Do I know where? No, only that I derive peace from the act, a way of transforming the worst in me. The act of writing is an action, it is saying that I do not despair, that I do not fear, that I will be true to the Word. I seek to transform my life through my writing. That others read it, it is like a candle burning. I may expire, and if a little light should illuminate another’s path, then wonderful! But the fact is, the candle burns because it has been lit, not to banish the darkness.”

3) Dare to contribute for you are beautiful as well.

“I still encounter that feeling of despondency, of writing in spite of great thinkers. “Yes, I recognize your greatness,” my writing proclaims, “but while your song may be beautiful, so is mine…because it is I who sing it.” So, to be a successful blogger, you have to tap into who you are, and mean or nice, share who you are.” Love.

4) It doesn’t matter what you write about, just tell the truth. I loved this one!

“I recently shared a cartoon that reads, “I have nothing to say…I say it regularly.” But that’s not true . What is true is that I have to share as much of the truth as I can tolerate, and then push it a bit. There are many things happening in the world today, much in our lives to be grateful for. And, there are also many things that try to sap the joy out of life. To deny either life, the priviledge of honesty, of transparency, of truth diminishes us. So, while I am not wise enough to be a soothsayer, I can strive to tell the truth in the hope that I may someday grow wise, or failing that, learn more. Blogging is about relationships, and I cannot imagine being less than truthful as possible. Yet, a million times, I am grateful for your forgiveness.

When I read what others have to write–and I read quite a bit, but shallowly like a rock skipping over the surface–I am compelled to write about my point of view on those experiences. While someone may be particularly erudite (there, you see? That’s the defiance, the thought I can do as well as the erudite author), I know that it does not represent the whole story…because I am a part of that story. It is important to speak truth to the universe, to tell it the truth about itself (if you can identify the title of the sci-fi book that came from, let me know, ok?).

In traditional publishing, it’s expected you be an expert before opening your mouth. Blogging academics…I think that’s just trying to elevate the account of wrestling with truth in our lives. Like “He Who Wrestles with God,” bloggers must wrestle with their ideas, their emotions, the world around them and bring order to it. We need to speak to that struggle, tell when we fail, when we succeed.” Beautiful.

5) Sharing one’s appreciation of neat things found in the world or in one’s heart.

from: Why Blog

– – –

Lastly, I found on Jeff Shaw’s blog Bounded Rationality his post entitled Blog Rut. His post helped me to realize that I’m not alone in my feelings of “bi-polar blogging,” and eased my blogging-mental-breakdown 😀

“For those of you who blog, you know that it is a lot of work. If you are like me you get in these long blogging spurts, and then burn out. Then there’s that stress I feel when I go a couple of days without posting. Then there’s those stupid stats. I shouldn’t even look at them. I often feel bi-polar about blogging – I’m sure it comes off in my writing…”




6 responses

17 03 2010
Jeff Utecht

Love the term “Bi-polar Blogger” I know all to well how that feels. I’ll go a couple days in a row with a blog post every day and feel like I’m on fire…then I’ll go a month with only two or three blog posts the whole month and just don’t “feel it” what ever that is.

In the end…it’s about blogging for you. We’re not about making money on our blogs, we don’t HAVE TO blog. We blog because we understand the reflective power it has in our own learning. Because of that, I think we’re allowed to be bi-polar.

Blogs that are more consistant usually have a better audience, but there is something to be said about being inconsistent as well. 🙂

18 03 2010
PLN Day 64: LLED 420 Blog Digest « Whitneymeister's English Education Blog

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22 03 2010
Jesse North


I love this blog post, I saw Jason’s shout-out to you on his blog, so I had to check it out. I definitely know what you mean by “finding your flow” my brain works better when I have my accent lights on–enough of the super-bright overhead stuff!

But really, I love your tips and I’m going to put them to practice and see how it works!

23 03 2010
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[…] my Blog– It’s mine afterall! Jump to Comments After reading a classmate’s blog on how to write “out of the blog rut” I was especially inspired by her advice on […]

5 04 2010
Self-Evaluation of My Blog « Welcoming Learning: Becoming a Teacher

[…] blog post had 5 views.  This post was inspired my a classmate of mine, Laura Young’s, blog post.  This post probably had more than my average views because I commented on Laura’s blog […]

6 04 2010
Self-assessment « Teach Simplicity

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