Before there was the Boles Blogs Network, there was just Urban Semiotic and planning articles was simple. Either I was writing an article for Urban Semiotic or Go Inside Magazine — not too difficult. More blogs were added — three, here, four there, then three more — until the 13-blog strong Boles Blogs Network was created. Across the network, we cover all the niches of living. By the time we hit that magical number 13, I had a problem — no good way to keep up with knowing when I hadn’t written an article for a blog in a long while, and what I was planning on writing for any given blog.
When my office relocated and I started taking the F train to work every day, I got the bonus of about half an hour to an hour free riding on the subway that I didn’t have before — it’s sometimes a longer trip due to service delays. I bought a small notebook at Staples that fits quite comfortably in my shoulder bag and started taking notes and writing article ideas when they would hit me.
It occurred to me at some point in early September that I could keep track of which blogs had article submissions from me and which did not if I just listed the thirteen blogs on a notebook page and wrote “DONE” next to the ones for which I had submitted an article. Here is the page of the notebook after I had finished submitting some articles for September, 2010:
This was great, but it left the problem of not always being sure of what I was going to write. There were times when a couple of weeks would pass and I wouldn’t submit any articles, followed by a week in which I would suddenly submit ten for ten different blogs.
David W. Boles and I agreed there had to be a better way of tracking, planning and submitting articles on a routine basis and proposed that I tell him on the first day of every month which articles planned to submit for the month, and on what date I will be submitting the article. Here is the notebook page showing the end result of that exercise for October, 2010:
Bear in mind we are now halfway through October, and I am already developing ideas for articles I will submit in November. I didn’t have the luxury of doing this when I was submitting the articles when they came to mind and so everything was considerably more haphazard.
Doing things this way, I have a schedule and I know what I’m going to be writing every day. Moreover, when inspiration strikes (it still does!) I can still write an article then and there — if it’s related to pressing news, it can be published soon thereafter. If it is not pressing, it can certainly wait until the following month!
Using the paper notebook technique has given me incredible peace of mind. Moreover, I no longer have the same dreadful fear when I open up a new WordPress.com page to start up an article, and wonder: “What do I write now?” The paper notebook has answered that question quite well.