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Life & Loves — 28 September 2012

When it comes to blogging I’m sure some of you are just like me. Some days the material for my blog comes easily whereas other days I just can’t get anything out at all and I end up wasting my time. We’ve already dealt with general time-management skills but this week’s Blogging Buddies Guest Post by Mark Richards focusses on how you can save yourself time and produce a consistent blog about family life.

Mark Richards, offers tips for bloggers on mummy rates it


Way back in 2003 I managed to persuade the editor of my local paper to let me write a humorous weekly column about family life from a dad’s point of view.

“OK,” he said. “Six hundred words a week. And if you can manage six weeks, you’ll probably be alright.”

The word ‘blog’ barely existed in 2003, but effectively that’s what I’d started – a weekly blog about my family. Nine years and nearly 300,000 words later the column continues to be published – and it’s now also on my blog at www.bestdadicanbe.com Number of weeks missed during that time? Nil. Every Monday morning without fail I’ve pressed ‘send’ and submitted my copy.

‘Fine,’ you say. ‘That’s easy. What could be simpler than writing about your children? After all, something funny happens every week.’

Something does happen every week – although now I have three teenagers it isn’t always funny. The trick, though, is turning what happens into 600 readable words – and maintaining the discipline so that you meet the deadline every single week.

‘Best Dad’ is one of three weekly blogs that I write. I use the same techniques on all of them to make sure that I produce good content and that I never miss my deadline. If you’d like to write a regular blog, especially if it’s about your children, then hopefully these five suggestions will help.

1. When you have an idea, get it down. Notebook, voice recorder or whatever works for you, never let an idea escape. My personal preference is to run to my laptop and write the first few lines. If I’m still writing at 300 words that’s even better, but two lines are usually enough to capture an idea.

2. Write at the time of day that suits you best. By nature I’m an early morning person, especially on Saturday and Sunday when the children are having their very long lie-ins. Get up, feed animals, make tea, start writing works for me.

3. Don’t give up. I easily made the six week target the editor set me. The crisis came at week 16. I’d taken the children conkering. A stream ran gently alongside the horse chestnut trees. “Please,” I thought. “I don’t know what to write about…one of you fall in.” They didn’t fall in, I did find something to write about and I’ve been fine ever since. A crisis will come: force yourself to write through it.

4. Work on more than one post at a time. Right now I have ten ‘Best Dad’ columns at varying stages: some will never make it to 600 words – the idea simply won’t be strong enough to sustain a column. I’ll end up merging some of the others to make one good column. But having lots of ideas on the go at once works for me.

5. You don’t have to get it right – not at first draft stage anyway. It’s like golf. You don’t step on to the tee expecting to put your ball in the hole. You expect to get it a lot closer, but you know there’s more work to do to finish it off. To me, writing for ten or 20 minutes and producing 200 or 300 words of a 600 words column is fine: I’ve whacked the ball down the fairway. Besides, we’re talking families here: sometimes ten minutes is all you’ve got.

Writing regularly is hard – even about your family. But it is fantastically worthwhile. You’ll leave your children an absolutely unique record of their childhood, one that is infinitely better than any number of photographs or videos. And one they can turn to in thirty years when their own children are driving them mad…

Mark Richards writes about his family at www.bestdadicanbe.com and is on Twitter @bestdadicanbe He’s happy to answer any questions you might have about blogging and can be contacted via mark@bestdadicanbe.com

MORE Blogging Buddies guest posts
Getting SMART to weight loss
Blogging Buddies: ‘Mindful’ not Days Full!

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