Have you ever heard or read one of those stories creators often tell, in which they describe the moment they had that spark, that once-in-a-lifetime idea, which would then energize them and eventually change their life? Perhaps they were walking around a forest at the time, or a dream was the setting; regardless, they knew they had to act on that idea.
Now, take those incredible experiences and bring down their extravagance & brilliance about fifty notches.
You may imagine a student, sitting in an uncomfortable chair outside of a cafeteria after class, frantically taking their outdated phone off of airplane mode in order to visit WordPress. At this point, the melodramatic and insecure person will type out random thoughts about their potential incompatibility with their intended career path onto the draft of a potential blog post, and then proceed to leave campus before fixing all of the spelling errors.
Yes, that person is me, and the specific experience just described is what led me to creating this blog post you are (probably voluntarily, and thus surprisingly) reading.
Hello. My name is Stephanie, in case you were not aware. It is nice to meet you.
I have been blogging for about eight months at this point, and consequently, for my fiftieth post, I hope to share with you all what my writing process was like for my relatively new post entitled “The Quest for a Niche.” Furthermore, I would like to describe how those steps compare to the typical process for the creation of my weekly, around 1,200-word pieces. No, I do not think that I am an amazing blogger or someone insightful to learn from, but I believe this blog post about writing blog posts (whew) will be interesting to look back on. At least this post could potentially be fascinating to others…hopefully.
As indicated earlier, I tend to have initial ‘sparks’ that result in my blog posts; they are not very extravagant, but I would say that most of them eventually incarnate themselves in posts (although I do currently have thirty-six drafts waiting to be fully written). Some examples of these kinds of posts that immediately come to mind are “The Community College Conversation,” “Ongoing Trends in My Vocabulary,” and the “Stephanie’s Stories” series. Whether it is on my phone, or on a new draft here on WordPress, these ideas excitedly get written down soon afterward.
On the other hand, though, some of the general ideas of my posts take longer to develop, as the execution of my general idea changes over time. One of the most prominent examples of these kinds of posts is my one entitled “The Wikipedia Project.” In fact, when I first imagined creating a post about that English class, I thought I would interview my professor for it. As the semester progressed, though, my idea of creating journal entries came to mind; quickly, the post became more of a diary. “The Haiku Challenge” had a similar journey, in which my idea of how I would put my plan into action changed multiple times.
Lastly, a small amount of my posts originate with a singular idea. However, later on, a different concept or experience enters my mind, which I then realize will go perfectly with the first idea; thus, a combination of sorts is the result. For instance, “Time Management Mania” was the result of both an article and a podcast capturing my attention in association with an overall concern I had about myself. My most explicit example of this kind of post is “I Love Who I Want to Be,” as one of its last sentences is the following: “I hope you all enjoyed this odd look into myself; so many realizations and ideas I have had over the past month or so have finally combined into this one post.”
With these (and many more) ways by which I develop the initial ideas for my posts, the following steps vary as well. As such, for the remainder of this post, I will focus on my most recent post entitled “The Quest for a Niche,” and utilize other posts that signify significant variations of my writing process. Said post and its various drafts gave me the idea of deciphering how I create my blog posts, so my attention will be turned toward it.
After I develop an idea for a blog post, I write out a draft. Depending on the post, I will either spend many little sessions over time writing the post, or I am able to write it out completely in one sitting. Accordingly, I may write out my first draft just an hour before it is published, or have it essentially finished on a previous date. To be quite frank, most of my blog posts are almost completely written the day they are posted, with a bit of preliminary drafting occurring the night before in some cases. In fact, even my very-lengthy post entitled “The Wikipedia Project” was almost completely written from scratch (aside from the journal entries, of course) within a few hours, and it was subsequently posted that afternoon.
For my post “The Quest for a Niche,” I actually found some time on the day I developed the initial idea, June 14, 2017, to start writing it out; my schedule was flexible enough to do so, and I felt as though I needed to write out my genuine thoughts as I came up with them. As hinted at before, I wrote out some statements and fragments that had being running through my mind immediately after I thought of the overall concept. The screenshot below displays these points that I was pondering, and the length of about 100 words is fairly consistent with what these kinds of initial ramblings are.
Typically, my more melodramatic (and music-related posts) originate with these random fragments, as I often feel compelled to type out my true thoughts, in fear that I would otherwise forget what I was actually feeling and thinking at the time. At this time, I also may develop a title; in the case of the post at hand, it remained untitled for quite a while.
Later on June 14, 2017, I spent some more time writing my post. My stress from the morning was still present; thus, I used my feelings to vent a bit, and some time was spent finding sources and inserting links into my writing. I really wanted to get an actual draft started, so naturally, I developed an introduction of sorts for the post, and worked my way through the beginning of the body. This session lasted from about 9:42-11:06 PM, and by the end of the period of time, I had the sense that I was approximately halfway done writing the post, with its word count at 813 words. I was still unsure of what the title of the post would be at the time, but I believe its tentative one was “Competency Certitude” (I love alliteration, clearly).
On Friday, June 16, 2017, I wanted to spend some time working on my post again, as I did not want to feel time pressure throughout my day of publishing, Saturday. Serendipitously, I wrote throughout almost the exact same time frame as on Wednesday: from 9:30-11:02 PM. I must say, writing at night is ideal for me; I almost feel more free to express my genuine thoughts at that time of day, and the added time pressure helps as well.
Anyway, I was able to complete my entire draft of the post by the end of the night, which is indicated by the word count doubling to 1642 words. The writing process was fairly smooth this time around, as my ideas flowed and incarnated themselves in my draft somewhat easily (which I cannot honestly say about every writing experience I have). I even came up with the title of my post, as I finally was able to understand the actual purpose and point of my piece.
A few minutes later, I realized that it would be an appropriate time to insert a relevant featured image; after scouring through some photos and doing a bit of editing, I airdropped and inserted a relevant image of me at a hotel for a project.
After I write a post, I will make sure to set some time aside to read over it at least once. By doing so, organizational issues can be solved, oddly structured sentences restructured, and glaring omissions filled. Some of my posts, particularly those written on the Saturday after a busy school week, are re-read and edited almost immediately after their initial draft is created; I am aware that this habit is not ideal, but my desire to stay on schedule necessitates it. One post, entitled “Why Do I Love Learning?” represents how editing can be a challenge for me at times. I had so many paragraphs written out around the time of publishing, but was indecisive as to how to order them. In actuality, it was almost as if my general excitement toward the realizations I made throughout the post hurt my ability to objectively view the piece to an even greater extent than usual.
In the case of my “The Quest for a Niche” post, I was able to edit my post after about twelve hours spent away from it. Consequently, some room for improvement could be found, and I was able to comfortably (and with an open mind, relatively) edit what I had finished writing out the night before. In the end, and after a half-hour or so, I believe my post was at 1600 words in length.
Either right after I finish writing the main draft of my blog post or upon making my final edits to the piece, I utilize some of the extra options given to WordPress users. Categories & Tags are some of the most important selections, as keeping posts organized and adequately promoted based on their content benefits both the blogger and their potential readers. For my post entitled “The Quest for a Niche,” I selected the categories of “All Posts,” “Analyzing Myself,” “College,” and “Get to Know Me.” As for tags, I utilized the tags of “College,” “hospitality,” “introvert,” “niche,” “postaweek,” “student,” and “thoughts.” Admittedly, I am not an expert at making these types of selections, but I simply try to see which series and/or purposes each post falls under, along with what overall concepts I think viewers could find in the piece.
Next on the list is “Featured Image.” As stated before, I had already selected an image for my “The Quest for a Niche” post the night before, but I would not say that this action is typical of me. In fact, since I am not a photographer, I often struggle to decide on an image that could represent each post (hence, my habit of reusing images, such as for my music-related posts).
The following selections I make are of which social media platforms to share my post on. Twitter and Google+ are my two services of choice; the former can be directed toward a somewhat impersonal, but wide, audience, while the latter is more of a personal niche for me. If I feel a bit apprehensive about sharing a particular post to a specific platform, I will make sure to un-check it from my list, and perhaps post it there when I feel more comfortable. Nervousness is always at least a bit present, though, which is why I do not yet share my posts on other platforms that involve much of my personal relationships. For the post at hand, though, I selected both of aforementioned platforms, and I also added a message about how the piece was being published on the exact date of the eight-month mark of my blogging adventure.
Lastly, there is the “More Options” section. My main focus for this area is on the excerpt that I choose to summarize, or to pique interest in, the purpose of the blog post, which will be displayed when my post is shared on social media and on the “Home” page of my blog. For my series-based posts, the excerpts usually describe this relationship, but for the rest, I often choose a single question or statement from the post that I believe indicates the main thought behind the post. For my post entitled “The Quest for a Niche,” the excerpt is “Will my current bouts of discomfort help me reach my full potential, or will I become most successful within a sector I already feel somewhat comfortable in, even as an amateur?” (Yes, I know, selecting what is essentially a rhetorical question is likely the “cheap” way out.)
Once I feel satisfied with my post as a whole, it is time to publish it. I have not yet scheduled the publishing of a post, so every time one appears on my blog, it is due to a manual click. A sense of relief usually washes over me as I press the “Publish” button, as (hopefully) staying on my once-a-week schedule is quite satisfying for me. Also, even though I am nowhere near popular as a blogger, the sense of potential that posts I am proud of create for me is always a welcome guest in my normally cynical mind.
“The Quest for a Niche” was published at 11:12 AM on Saturday, June 17, 2018, which was actually very early for me. Typically, I find that I publish posts at approximately 2:00 PM; posting earlier in the day seems to be a trend for me, though.
This final step in my creation of blog posts is one that I honestly have mixed feelings on: editing posts after they are published. Those who have read my post entitled “My Love of ‘Updating’” will be aware that my ability to edit posts after their time of publishing was a very exciting and satisfying discovery for me as a new blogger, but my feelings on the concept have been shifting lately. (I will save the depth of this internal debate for a later post.)
Regardless, I still tend to edit posts, at least a bit, after they are already on my blog; making changes is just so tempting. As a matter of fact, I hesitate to even read the posts in my “Let’s Take a Vacation” series, as I approach them assuming that I will find a multitude of embarrassing errors in these long and detailed recaps. One individual post that has faced quite a bit of after-the-fact editing is “The Wikipedia Project,” as I imposed some major organizational changes onto it within hours of posting it, when I realized that adding headings would make the lengthy post much more effective. Similarly, for my “The Quest for a Niche” post, I changed my excerpt, and I felt some guilt for making this adjustment. Only about an hour after I published the post, re-reading the aforementioned question led to some doubt in the quality of its phrasing; thus, I made the decision to change it slightly. Furthermore, it is more than likely that I found other minor mistakes in my post to fix, with it now being 1653 words long.
Well, the train aptly named “My Writing Process” is now stopping at the station at which you must step off; it has to make its way back to “Developing Ideas,” of course!
Anyway, now that I have stated that odd metaphor (written at 11:14 PM, might I add), feel free to find the flaws and trends in my writing process that are present in not only “The Quest for a Niche,” but throughout my forty-nine other blog posts thus far as well.
I hope you all enjoyed this look into how I write a blog post, or at least found it to be interesting. I am always open to feedback and advice, so do not hesitate to throw some (gently, please) my way.
Perhaps after another fifty posts, I will come back to this post as a much-improved blogger, with more expertise and skill to share with you all…hopefully.