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On planning, or not


Space for the Butterflies - On Planning

Last year, back in the day when I had plenty of time to think, and not enough time to write, I really got into the habit of planning out my blog posts for the month.  I had my monthly planner and I could sit down and fill in the gaps at the start of each month, adding in things that are fixed dates, like Siblings and Me and Mine, and then the 52 Project on a Saturday and anything else that I was joining in with on a weekly basis and then suddenly it would all start to look fairly full and so I’d add in any collaborative posts, any ideas that were throwing themselves at the sides of my brain, longing to be heard, and before I knew it I’d have an entire month mapped out in front of me; all I had to do was write it down.

Well I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit since then.  I still know in the back of my mind that certain things will fall on certain days each month, but I’ve not got it all spelt out for me in cheerful multicolour.

I love how wonderfully flexible blogging can be as a medium, how it can really shape itself not only to us as individuals, but as to individuals at a particular time and place.  When I first started blogging I’d think about whether I wanted to write a blog post, then I’d go and find the camera, find my project, stick it on the floor somewhere (usually without moving the clutter out of the way) or if it was still daytime, into the nearest shrubbery, take the picture, upload it to the computer (slowly) and Blogger (even more slowly) and then write whatever it was that came to mind, publish, and be done.  It was very much a journal brought to life by the Internet.  And at the other end of the scale I’ve spoken to people at conferences who plan their blogs out for months going on a full year in advance.  To be sure they usually aren’t parent bloggers which I suspect helps in the pre-planning, you’re not so tied to the here and now by your very obviously growing children, and I don’t think I could ever plan more than one month, or at a squeeze two in advance.

After a few months of blogging whatever really came to mind when I had time to sit down and write, I’ve started to let a little organisation creep back in at the edges; writing myself a little list at the beginning of each week with whatever I’m thinking about and I’m curious to see what impact that has, not on the writing itself, which I think is fairly consistently me, but certainly the process.

I know that sometimes the germ of an idea needs to rattle around my head for a bit before it all comes together and planning things out gets my subconscious working on the topic. And while I’ve got my own views on what constitutes blogging success, I have to acknowledge that when every book or article I’ve read about blogging says that planning is the key to a “successful” blog; regularly and predictably delivering really good content will make your readers happy and you an overnight superstar with a tidy house and the figure of a model (well maybe not quite all of that), they may have a point.

Even though I’ve been back at work nearly six months now (and wow has that gone fast), I think I’m still trying to find my perfect combination of planning and not planning; the moment at which I can wake up, get on a train, open up a draft post and write whatever comes into my head, or get up, get on a train and start writing straight away because I’m not having to think about what my topic will be.

I don’t think there is or ever will be a one size fits all “how to blog” model, and thank goodness for that, but while I’m trying to figure my ideas out, I’m really curious to hear what everyone else does.  So over to you – do you plan out your posts, by the week, or the month, or the year (I’d love to know what it looks like to have planned your posts by the year), or is it just completely spontaneous?