TODAY’S QUESTION: Do you outline your posts (planning)
or do you roll by the seat of your pants (pantzing) ?
When I started this blog, I was ending a forty year career as a technical writer. I had written many other things too. Newspaper articles, white papers, reports for NASA and other government agencies, menus, and a wee bit of astrology because it was fun. That was when I discovered that no matter what I wrote, at least half my readers would say it perfectly matched their day, even when I had called in the staff and asked each person born under a sign what they thought the week would bring? Not exactly precision, but it was meant to be entertaining. You can’t do astrology by sun sign alone for a week. It’s impossible. That being said, it might as well be fun,.
When I started blogging after several years of saying “No, not again,” I promised myself I would never adhere to a particular subject but would enjoy the pleasures of writing whatever I felt like writing. I had an editor or boss looking over my shoulder (figuratively speaking) for decades and I wanted the freedom to write for fun.
Even when I wrote deep into the tech world, I wrote minimal outlines. An outline was simply to organize the general direction of the information. It isn’t intended to plan every step of the journey. Even in tech writing, when you get into it the data may not fit where you were planning to put it. At one point, I wrote a two-volume set of about 1000 pages and when I was done, I asked my boss if it would be okay for me to completely take it apart and redo it so it would be easier to understand and more readable. He said “You only have two weeks to deadline. Can you do it?”
I had never let him know just how fast I could write. I was afraid that he, like all my other bosses, would immediately load me up with twice as much work, lest the unused hours be dedicated to relaxation and recuperation. But in this office, I was the only writer anyway. I was the writer, editor, designer, and researcher. Moreover, there was only one product. A really huge product, but still just one. I was already doing everything, so there was no more he could assign me.
Blogging was going to be freedom for me. And finally, there would be a home for my tens of thousands of photographs that otherwise sat on my hard drive unseen by anyone but me, Garry, and those few to whom I mailed copies.
No matter how often WordPress has assured me that I could never succeed without a focused format, I refused. I’m still refusing. I’ve watched all those “focused” blogs burn up and die. The ones that have lasted are generally ones where people write about what’s on their minds today. They don’t feel obliged to only write book reviews or be movie critics or whatever. They are free and because you are never sure what they are going to be “on” about, it makes them fun. You get a lot of unexpected ideas, humor, or whatever. How rarely in life do we get to be free?
Writing a blog is easy-peasy for me, unless it’s something technical that requires research. I do a few of those posts, but I don’t outline them. I do think about them, mentally planning where I’ll extract needed information and often where I’ll get the graphics I might need. So while I may plan a post mentally, I don’t outline. I may write a rough first draft, leave it to sit in files, sometimes for a long time until I find it and say “Hey, this has potential” and rewrite it. I also rewrite old pieces because times change and I have new thoughts about old subjects.
I always use the calendar. I like to post things early, but I’m a late sleeper. I write a lot of posts late in the evening while the TV is on, especially photographic posts, but not always. They show up while I’m still happily unconscious. I don’t think of that as planning. I think of that as sleeping in.