Monday, July 30, 2018

How Do You Write A Blog Post? You Just Write A Blog Post.

Syp has an excellent post up about preparing for Blaugust and maintaining an active blogging presence longer-term. He says

"Probably the most difficult and challenging aspect of blogging is keeping the posts coming. It’s a constant, ongoing event, unless you don’t care about building up an audience and want a once-in-a-blue-moon post frequency. Everyone gets excited about writing at first, but consistently churning out posts requires discipline, effort, routine, and — pertinent to this article — strategy".
He goes on to give some really good, solid advice on how you can maximize your output while minimizing your stress levels. If you're the kind of blogger who worries about deadlines, topics or schedules then I highly recommend you read Syp's Tips (hey, that could be a column title!).

But what if you aren't that kind of blogger? Or that kind of person. What if you're the kind whose skin begins to itch at the very thought of opening a spreadsheet or marking a date on a calendar? What if you run on a combination of overexcitement and underpreparation and like it that way?

Let me introduce you to Seat Of The Pants blogging. Hmm, "seat of the pants"; that's a weird phrase, isn't it? We all know what it means but where does it come from? Let's ask Dr. Google.

“When my senses tell me one thing and the little dials on the instrument board tell me another, usually the dials are right. … Next to the instruments, probably the pilot’s safest guide to the position of his ship is the seat of his pants.”

Okay, that was interesting. It was also an example of how SotP blogging works. It's also known as "winging it", which I just bet derives somehow from the aviation industry too, although I'm not going to look that one up.


Here's how I prepare for a blog post. Mostly I do them in the morning, so first I have to wake up. Then I switch on my PC and leave it to grumble while I go have breakfast. In a while I come back with a mug of tea, sit down and go through my email, Feedly and my own blog roll, in that order.

Sometimes I have an idea for a post already. It was probably something that happened while I was playing yesterday, or maybe a piece I read that stuck in my mind. I might have vaguely thought about writing about it at the time and now that I'm looking at a blank screen it's popped back into my mind.

Absent that ( I love that phrase - it's so unecessarily faux-technical) it's more than likely that something I've just read in Feedly or my blog roll will act as a spur for a post. One of the very best things about blogging is that it's a conversation. Think of it as a very long-form Twitter.

On the subject of comments, as well as being a blogger I'm also an inveterate commenter. I was commenting on blogs long before I started a blog of my own. Indeed, as I've said in the past (and never be afraid to repeat yourself - there's another blogging tip) it was when I realized I was routinely dropping comments that were longer than the blog posts I was commenting on that I decided I ought to get my own blog.

I one hundred percent recommend and advise any reader to comment, whether or not they also blog or plan on starting. Comments are the life-blood of blogs. Bloggers love comments and commenting leads to blogging. Do it!

Getting back to the point at hand, as I try to remember what it was, a thing that happens to me quite often is this: I'l be sitting here reading through other peoples' blog posts prior to starting on my own and I'll read one that makes me want to stick my oar in (gosh, I'm all about the metaphorical cliches today, aren't I ?).


I'll start commenting and within a few sentences it will occur to me that a) the comment is going to run long - most likely very long - and b) it would make a perfectly adequate blog post! At this point, out of blogging solidarity and politeness, I usually change the comment to something along the lines of "Great post! I was going to comment but then I realized I ought to make it into a post over at my blog".

I'm not sure if that's what the blogger who sparked the thing off wants to hear but at least I said "Great post", right? Everyone likes to get comments that begin "Great post!". It never gets old, let me tell you!

From there, I'm up and running. I just write the comment I would have written only even more fulsomely, find some arguably relevant screenshots and bingo! Post done!

It takes bloody ages! Compared to a comment, anyway. A comment may be 1000 words long - some of mine certainly are - but I bang a comment out freeform, without revision or editing, and I usually don't even read it back once before hitting the button.

The same comment, turned into a blog post, requires both revision and editing (the two most important parts of writing and publishing, respectively) but it also frequently requires research. I'll say anything off the top of my head in a comment but if I'm going to put it in a post I fact-check first. Always check your facts before committing to print.


An ad hoc blog post at Inventory Full (which is about 90% of all of them) generally runs around 900 - 1500 words (very long) and takes me about two to four hours (waaaaay too long). Of the time taken, maybe 25% - 50% of it is the writing itself. The rest is revising, editing, fact-checking and illustrating. The pictures themselves often take the longest, especially if I have to log into a game and take them specially.

But what if the blogosphere lets you down? What if no-one has said anything thought-provoking overnight? What if there's not a single news squib on your gaming news provider of choice that you give damn one about? What if there's no little niggle in the back of your mind, no annoying little wrinkle of gaming (this is assuming your blog is a gaming blog...) that just irks you so much you need to let everyone else know just how furshlugginer annoying it is?

Screenshots! Screenshots, that's what!

On a slack ideas day I open my screenshot folders and flip through them. Six years in, I have in excess of 12,000 screenshots of GW2 alone. I have hundreds and thousands of shots of all the games I've played, going back about a decade and a half. Before that, tragically, all is lost.

With luck it will only take me a few minutes of folder-flipping before something strikes me. I generally try to avoid all-screenshot posts. Some bloggers absolutely excel at them - Kaozz for one - but if I do a screenshot special I like to have a good reason.

Whether you just like to post your snaps or need them to give you ideas, I recommend taking plenty. Screenshots will get you through times of no inspiration better than inspiration will get you through times of no screenshots. Or something. Not sure that works but let's keep going, maybe no-one will notice...

For a gaming blogger, the other gift that never stops giving (does that even make sense? Geez, once you start to think about cliches they really begin to fall apart sometimes...) is gameplay. There are those who deny, denigrate or simply don't see the point of diary blogging (Hi, Gevlon!). Who wants to hear what quests you did yesterday or which boss you killed?


Well, lots of people, apparently. Or so it seems when the comments roll in. If you write entertainingly on the topic of What I did In My Games Yesterday, lots of people will find it... entertaining! What's more, if you can manage to be insightful about it too, other people with similar experiences may even find it instructive and educational.

Enough. You get the idea. Planning ahead is absolutely fantastic and the exact right thing for them as likes it but there is another way. In fact, there are as many ways to blog as there are bloggers. If you're just starting out you probably don't know yet what's going to work for you. I certainly didn't.

The trick - really the only trick - is to keep plugging away at it. Try it this way, try it that way, try it her way, try it my way. (Oh, the temptation to link...but, no...).

I find blogging easy. I've been writing this sort of stuff since I was a punk in the late 70s. I wrote and published fanzines on music and comics, sent letters of comment to anyone that would print them, then ended up in the apazine scene for a decade and a half until gaming took me in the mid-90s.

I realize it can be intimidating to commit but it's like diving into cold water. You just have to do it and once the shock fades you realize it's not cold at all. In fact, once you get used to it, it couldn't be warmer.

Dive in and swim!


  1. I filter out "Great post" and alike comments from my blog because I consider them dumb spam.

    Also because I'm anti social and don't want friends. Or people to talk to me.

    1. I'm shallow! I can be bought with faint praise!

  2. Lovely post :)

    I thoroughly agree with your idea of writing entertainingly :) Back when I was subbed to FFXIV:ARR I kept an in-character blog on their lodestone site. It was pretty sarcastic, and had no problems pointing out the sheer laziness of most quest givers, or the idiocy and forced urgency of the quests. People loved it :) It's a pity I had to stay subbed to keep access to the lodestone :(


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