Do you know what Karandi and I have in common? We blog a lot. Admittedly we are very different blogger types but we both care about getting regular content to our readers and sometimes that can be a challenge.
Since I started contributing here, I have come to realize and admire just how much work Karandi puts into this blog, so much so that she gets thrown off schedule if she gets sick or if work becomes demanding. It’s the same for me as well but since I’m not as much of an episodic reviewer, I have more leeway with my scheduling. For Karandi it really seems like an actual job.
(****Ps. I’m writing this independently as I commute to work so it’s purely from my outside perspective. Because Karandi and I are both fairly busy, we don’t really get the chance to chat about stuff like this much. She’s going to read this before publishing through so she can make any edits or corrections she wants****).
However, I do have a few tight deadlines as well and I’ve started to figure out how to fit everything in without making it a chore.
The first thing for me is structure. I know in advance what I’m going to write about and generally how I’m going to write about it. This means notes in my case. Lots of notes. I go through a notebook worth of notes every few months while watching anime. This isn’t the general notes and ideas I jot down for posts. It’s actually in the moment notes of something that happened in the show and what it made me think about.
My posts are often just a basic cleaning up and restructuring of these notes. I don’t actually have to draft anything from scratch so that takes away a lot of writer’s block and blank page anxiety. I can reread a few pages of notes while having breakfast or something so by the time I start writing the complete outline of the post is already in my mind. That doesn’t mean I don’t wander from time to time. Occasionally a post will go in unexpected directions as ideas pop up while I’m writing it but the fact that I can just hit the ground running, really helps me keep my output regular.
It’s probably not a trick that will work for everyone though. For me, it essentially combines the time I would spend chasing inspiration, with my actual anime watching.
Then there’s the writing. I try to find stolen times. I have my phone and or tablet with me pretty much at all times. I write on buses, in subways while waiting in line or at a coffee shop. I use the Google doc dictation feature to blurt out posts while I’m cooking or cleaning. Unless I have an actual deadline cause I’m a genius who chose to review 4 shows on the same night… I never write during the evenings. That’s what I would consider my leisure time. I know a lot of bloggers do and I really admire that but I don’t have that type of determination. For me, that would make it feel too much like work.
It also means that my evenings are free to watch anime or read mangas at my own pace without worrying too much about blogging. I usually write reviews fairly quickly after seeing a show but thanks to those notes I could wait months to do so and it wouldn’t matter much. I try to give my blogging a good amount of structure because that’s what works for me, but I also don’t add any pressure. I just try to write posts I enjoy and hope someone else does too.
This is the way I have found to keep up with my blog. By making sure it was not an activity that I felt took “away” from my free time and by combining things to make everything fit in a day. I’m curious about Karandi though. Because her blogging and life styles are quite different, she must have come up with an entirely different set of time management and motivation tips to keep it up.
Let’s see if we can encourage her to share.
It is interesting that Irina raises this topic at a time when the balance in my life has literally fallen apart over the last few weeks (although we drafted this post quite awhile ago and then its kind of sat gathering dust). For the first three years of my blog I managed a beautiful routine but 2019 has been a messy year to begin with and the last few weeks have seen my IRL job become incredibly more stressful and time consuming followed by my health taking a serious hit and the recovery period stretching far longer than anticipated. The end result, I dropped from three posts a day to two (after skipping a couple of days entirely during the peak of being sick).
For some that might not seem like a big deal, however I see that as a major failing. I started wondering if I needed to manage my time better and just being generally frustrated at my health. The bottom line is that I am going to need to do some reassessment into the future and one of those reassessments is looking at my IRL job. I’m kind of hoping to wind back my roles and responsibilities there in about a year or two so that I can pursue blogging as a more full time thing (and also looking at some other avenues for work). But that’s a long term idea and not an immediate solution so what works at the moment?
Irina hit the nail on the head with structure. I know what I need to write each week in terms of episode reviews and other posts, they have a standard format that occasionally I tweak but mostly use as is, and two out of my three daily posts (which I maintained for three years before 2019 shot my streak dead) are episode reviews which in my case are short and reactionary not requiring a massive time commitment in terms of drafting, though definitely needing an edit prior to hitting publish.
I’m also very structured in my time management. When things are going to plan I spend a couple of hours in the morning before work reading posts from others and commenting, editing posts that I’ve drafted, and checking that posts I’ve scheduled are in the right spot and I didn’t miss anything. This is aided by my incredible lack of sleep with me usually waking up many hours before my alarm goes off. I will point out, this is one of the areas I’ve lost time in because a new medication I was put on earlier this year has increased my sleep time by an hour on average. Great for feeling rested but not so great for writing.
I use weekends to draft non-review posts for the following week and try to get any anime that air over the weekend watched and drafted which usually means I only need to watch an episode or two in the evenings after work to draft other reviews and fill in the rest of the week. This means if I need to have a night off to go and actually have a social life, it isn’t normally a big deal because I’m normally a few days ahead of posting (normally).
When everything goes to plan it works well and I don’t feel stressed by my schedule. The last month, I’ve felt stressed.
I am going to say though, I do not do anything related to my blog or watching anime during my work day. Not even lunch breaks. When I am at work, I’m fully focused on work. Once I leave work my brain shifts gears and I’m back in aniblogging mode. That separation is really important to me. Same as when I go out socialising or have people over (which isn’t the most common phenomenon given my basic nature but it does happen). I’m not checking my phone or messages or comments on the blog or anything else because that’s not actually being a part of the social interaction then.
I think I do count my blog in some ways as a hobby that is evolving into a second job at this point. Only, one I really love and enjoy and have a lot more say in how it operates (okay, I do like my IRL job it is just tiring me out right now). That said, I think I need to really look at what I can do over the next year to find a bit more balance because I don’t like the feeling that I’m letting people down when I get sick and can’t write a post. And I know that is silly. Even though I have patrons, I know they’ll understand that people get sick but it still makes me feel like I dropped the ball.
Then again, as I’ve said in a previous post, just because you lose momentum doesn’t mean you can’t find it again. Sure, September was a terrible month for me on the blog (and in general), but that doesn’t set the tone for October. Time to pick myself up and get back to it.
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi