Today’s writing related question: Bloggers: how do you blog? Toss out a post whenever inspiration strikes, build up a reserve? Or have a set time of day? If so, when?

This is almost a twist on the question “how do you find the time to write?” (okay, it’s not really, I just really like that blog post). Actually, this question gave me all the excuse I needed to answer a different question: just how many words to I blog in a year. I finally got around to doing that math:

2005 – 168,000
2006 – 238,000
2007 – 189,000
2008 – 143,000

In short, I write about two novels worth of words a year in blogs (and now I also see why I fondly remember 2006 as my best blogging year. I went nuts with reviews and thinking A LOT about stuff, mostly my faith. Also that year my family faced A LOT of tragedy so I was

working through a lot of that. I find that a good chunk of the blogs I write today end up linking to blogs I wrote that year. I can also note that my production went down considerably in 2008 as I had more work to do in terms of stories requested by editors).

My blog started off as a weird competition between me and a friend of mine. It has since evolved (… uh, no, there was no scene involving an “I win! I win” dance) because blogging gave me a way to build an audience for my writing when I didn’t have much published at the time. And it has given me many other writing opportunities to do other writing. So, does blogging take away from my real writing time? No, I consider blogging PART of my real writing time.

I understand that the time I spend blogging is time that I could be working on a novel or a short story or an article. Last year I began being more methodical about my blog that would allow for regular updates, spontaneous blogs, and getting more story/paid writing done (since as of last year, I had a lot more editors asking me for stories).

I try to have a reserve of blogs set up in advance. Since there are times when I have more time to blog (usually between story/novel projects: I have found that it’s hard for me to blog regularly while “creating” new words/universe but I have no problems blogging while editing or revising a story). Unless it’s time sensitive, I spread them out over a period of weeks (if I’ve truly worked ahead). Right now, I have 2 – 3 week’s worth of blogs done as I gear up to write a story I promised an editor (more on that later if she likes the end result).

If inspiration (or need) arises, I go with it. But I’ve found that having a surplus helps because there are times when I have spent a lot of time thinking on one topic, say for example race relations, and end up writing a series of blogs on that topic. Then I spend a lot of time thinking about something else, for example, faith, and produce a lot of blogs on that topic. I’m well aware that I have a cross-pollinated audience who might not be interested in a protracted series on one topic, so by working on them in advance, I can sort them better (so that it’s not all blocks of reviews, or theology, or race stuff, or writing).

I also set things to post between 6 and 8 a.m. that way they are there first thing in the morning … when people arrive at work and are goofing off by cruising the internet (and also why you want you “big” blogs coming out on Mondays). However, I regularly violate another blog rule: the best blog length is about 300 words (500 at the outside). With pictures.

So yes, my blogging is part me being conscious of marketing myself.** However, as much of a bump as my blog traffic gets with regular posting or a particular blog getting a lot of links/exposure, it’s nothing like the marketing that comes with, you know, actual stories being released.

*“That’s like jerking off by thinking about masturbating.” –Richard Danksy
** “And wasted if you don’t have enough to market.” –Richard Danksy, in the name of tough love, because blogging shouldn’t become a replacement for the other writing I should be doing.