We regularly and subconsciously develop daily routines when it comes to work. It doesn’t matter if you are working as a blogger, tech support member, singer, or astronaut because we humans tend to settle into a routine no matter what we are doing in life. This way, things become easier to manage, and it also allows you to be more productive and at ease with your work. Everyone has their own way of doing things.
Some people have their routines planned out to the very minute, but I try to avoid this because it rarely ever works out as planned for me. I don’t know how unique my writing schedule is compared to others, but I do most of my creative writing after midnight and editorial writing in the afternoon. The midnight writing sessions can sometimes keep me up until 6 AM or later, and, as a result, this means I have a somewhat awkward sleeping schedule. But hey, no one should complain as long as the job gets done. Whenever I manage to drag myself out of bed, this is how I get my work done.
The first thing I do when I wake up is open up NetNewsWire. At this point in time, I am usually in awe as the unread count skyrockets to insurmountable levels.
Within less time it took me to stumble towards my laptop, I am presented with hours of work, and, sometimes, it can be quite the eye opener.
I always give a sincere effort to check out every item, and those that I find interesting will be opened in the background for a thorough read later on. While going through each story, those that look interesting, but not required to read at the moment, will be flagged (or a starred if using GReader) so that the story in question will not be lost.
After about an hour or two (depending on the day of the week), I have usually managed to drop the unread count to zero, and I can now focus on the stories I wanted to read about. I am a relatively fast reader, so it is usually no big deal to read the contents. However, if I have opened up some 5,000 or more word articles, it can become quite time consuming as you would imagine. I will bookmark the stories that I find useful, and if there are others that I deem worthy of being blogged about, I will usually be on top of that immediately.
If it has been one of those days where thousands of stories have pilled up on me, I will take a break after. Some people just don’t realize how much effort that can be required to filter out bad content to just find the good stuff.
Eventually, I will have finished with the feeds, and at this point, I will close down NetNewsWire until I decide to take a break later on in the day.
Some people would check their email first thing in the morning, and even I sometimes do that, but I usually wait until after dealing with the news feeds to read my email. On occasion, email can be useful for things other than spam. Unfortunately, computers are not smart enough, yet, to really determine which emails should be of immediate importance, but thanks to Gmail, I don’t usually get that much spam in my inbox.
Thankfully, it only takes a matter of minutes to deal with email, and then I am right back to work.
Develop and Review Article Ideas
I will now open up Google Docs. I did not, however, do this for the purpose of writing. See, there has to be a solid idea to build upon, and I take my time to plan things out. On Google Docs, I have a single document for each blog I write for. For Performancing, I have a document with hundreds of potential story ideas that I have collected since the first day I started working here. Some days, it really feels like it is a safe with money stored in it.
I keep all my idea lists for each blog up-to-date. I will write down any ideas I have come up with over the previous day and current morning, I will strikeout any ideas I have already written about, and I will modify any existing ideas that need changed. Finally, I will usually highlight any article I am currently working on in red so that it is easy to locate in the future.
Finally, after a nice amount of time of brainstorming, I will hopefully have some ideas on what I am going to be writing about. If I can’t come up with any ideas, that idea list I was just talking about will manage to save the day.
After figuring out a title for the article I intend on writing, I will move onto creating a summary and outline.
Creating a summary and outline is probably one of the most productive things I have ever added to my writing workflow. Without a simple outline, I could easily add up to three times more effort when revising my work. I end up having to re-read everything I write several more times, and I have to edit the location of content to make sure it flows correctly. To put it simply—this is a very important step.
Nowadays, I put a lot of emphasis towards making sure my outlines are done well. I want to know exactly how my article is going to flow, and I want to be able to visualize what the finished piece will look like. An outline gives me the opportunity to do that with relative ease.
The first thing I do is create an introduction (I also refer to it as a summary) for my article. I usually complete the entire introduction, and then I will continue on with my usual outlining process. It might take 10 minutes, it might take an hour, but it is always worth the effort. The longer the article, the more effort I put into making my outline flawless.
Even though I am only near the halfway point in this article, as I glance down, I already know what I am going to be writing about. It is a nice feeling to know that I don’t have to deal with trying to figure out where my article is going; I already know.
People either do research before or after creating an outline, and then again, some do no research at all because they know what they are writing about. Here at Performancing, I do my research after the outline because I am not writing about content that is time sensitive. What I write today could still apply years down the road. However, if you are writing about breaking news or similar, it is probably best to do the research first as your outline will be that much more detailed.
I break research up into three different stages: preliminary research, active research, and post research. Preliminary research will heavily affect how and what I write. This can be knowledge about the topic known from life experience or gained after scouring books, websites, people, and other resources of information. I shouldn’t have to state how important this is.
If I didn’t have a clue about what I was writing about, those that have the experience about what you are discussing will be quick to make me look like a fool in the comments section. It is simple really—the more knowledge a person has about the topic in question, the more potential for the finished product being an easier job and a great read.
Researching while I am writing (active research) is also a very important part of the research process. However, it is also the part that can distract me the most as well. I really try my best to reduce the amount of research that needs to be done after I start writing, but I help myself by having the resources I need at the ready. Some writers, today, thrive off of using Wikipedia (as do I), but whether it is Google or an actual person, I am prepared for these things.
Finally, depending on how serious you take your work, there is the post research stage that is needed for things like fact checking. I could get in serious trouble for stating lies about people and companies. Bloggers are not free to say whatever they want, and giving people false information, in my opinion, should be punished. Just recently, I made the mistake of reviewing an older version of a product for a review, and had I made sure that I was using the correct version, I would not have upset a particular company. It is important to make sure what you have written is factual.
Different people place different amounts of effort into the writing process, but I believe research is one of the most important. Research is what will shine throughout the work, and those that put in the effort will be rewarded for it.
The rough draft is that time when I am taking all those ideas in my head and getting them out of my system. I have previously heard by some of my teachers that this process is referred to as “throwing up” words on paper. Regardless of what you call it, the concerns over structure and grammar should be set aside in order to maximize creativity. There are certain times when a writer will get in a rhythm, and when that happens, it is time to type away.
My rough drafts can really be rough. After I have filled in the gaps from my outline, things might not make sense after reading it, but as long as I have the ideas written down, I can’t lose them. You would be surprised if you ever had the opportunity to read a few rough drafts by famous authors in our past—authors managed to transform blobs of words into amazing pieces of work.
In other words, it is better to have too much than not enough. I can always trim the fat from an article, but having to go back and add stuff is not as easy. When I have finished my rough draft, it will be time to make things look good.
I prefer waiting until I publish the article to include links and pictures, but some of you might be happy with adding them in by this point. I tend to include notes within square brackets to remind of things that I should do before publishing; like [add a link] to a previous article or insert a relevant image.
Final Draft (Editing)
So, I have these paragraphs full of text, and now it is time to bring it all together with the final draft.
For some—myself included—this is the most time consuming task after doing research. Authors really can spend hours upon hours trying to make things better, but as many of us have realized, there is always a way to make something better no matter how well we have done it.
Grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation will be perfected—at least, I like to think so—by the time I am finished with the final draft.
I also try my best to ensure that the flow of the article is correct. The outline already helped to avoid any issues with the flow of the article, but it can’t hurt to double-check.
By the time I am done with the final draft, only things like spelling errors and punctuation should have to be fixed. If I was needing to re-arrange content or worse, than I probably did something very wrong. Thankfully, that rarely happens to me, but I always keep on the lookout.
I am almost done, but there is still the issue of presenting my work. Links, images, and videos are now common additions to content on the web. As even the latest poll on Performancing has revealed, people prefer to, at the very least, have images and links which are relevant to the content.
I must also account for the fact that images and videos might manipulate the way my content looks, and I might need to make small changes to account for this. It can be annoying to have finished all the writing, and then have to change stuff do to layout issues, but so be it.
Finally, right before publishing the content live, I give my content one or two good readings to ensure that everything is done correctly. I have caught many last minute errors just by reading an article one last time. It is important that you do this as well, and hopefully, I will have enjoyed what I managed to come up with.
It’s Not Over
After an article has gone live, there is still the task of submitting it to social networks and responding to comments and criticisms. Some people skip out on these parts. I, however, always make an effort to respond to every single comment.
Social networks are, of course, useful for getting that boost of traffic, and I really enjoy submitting my works to StumbleUpon lately. They help with getting backlinks to your articles, and I can’t complain with that.
The more effort you put into an article, the more effort you should put into doing these final steps. I take it very seriously, and so should you if you plan on being a great blogger.
Eventually, it will be time to start the process all over again. After all, that is why it is called a routine. I am used to it by now.
This was a lot to have thrown at you, but my work routine is really involved. However, I don’t put much thought into it as it just happens to work out this way.
I am interested in learning if you have a routine that you follow while writing an article. How similar or different is it to mine? If you have any ideas, please let everyone know in the comments section.
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