July 06, 2011

Engineering a Blog Post

This is another "meta-blogging" post.

A lot of people are bloggers. I don't know how do they blog, how they get ideas and how they articulate them. But I think I know what's my process of blogging is.Writing a post, for me, is a process that has certain distinct phases and at least 2 passes: 

Conceptualisation: This is *the* most important phase really. What am I going to post next? What will it be all about? Will it be similar to what I posted last time or sometime before? Will it be on something that I have never blogged about or have been thinking of doing for a long time? I get most of the ideas - get ready to laugh- in the bathroom. I do get a lot of time in the bathroom to really connect with myself (no double meaning intended!). I also get a lot of ideas while travelling or taking a peaceful walk.  Now, since it's really easy to forget the ideas, I usually write down all my ideas at a central place, to consult later. So, now I usually have a buffer of ideas/topics to blog about.

Design: Once the topic of the blog is decided, the next step is to think how am I going to write the blog. What style am I going to use? How long or short will the post be? What will be the mode of communication (1st person, 3rd person etc.)? Of course, right now I am posting somewhere which has limited formatting capabilities (buzzRSH), otherwise *Now* designing the post would have included  *also includes* stuffs like indentation, fonts and colors and may be even pictures also to support the post.

Rough Draft (Prototype): Like in case of software engineering, it's not necessary for me to write the perfect, ready-to-post blog the first time. I have tried to do the start-to-end posts, but that takes a lot of time. It divides the mind into a lot of things. And I have also felt that doing everything in one go can cause certain bugs (typos etc.) to creep in. After posting the blog, I may realize that I missed something very important related to post. Updating the blog after it has been written is not what I support normally.Writing the full blog post in one go also seems like a daunting task. This can also make one procrastinate over a topic for a really-really long time (It happened with me in that Blueline post). So now, my priority is to create a rough draft of the post, putting into as many ideas as I can in one go; without caring much about editing and formatting etc. This really helps in motivating me to come back and finish the post.    

Editing/Formatting (Refining): Since I keep my blog simple, there is not much scope of formatting. But I do try to make the post easier for you to read. So I try to italicize, bold, strike things so that blog doesn't look like a torn page of an old novel. This phase also gives me an opportunity to reread the draft and make any changes to the post. Like deleting something redundant, or adding something in support of a statement; even changing the order of the paragraphs. Coming back to a topic after sometime really gives another perspective to the post and sometimes I find that the final post is completely different from it's rough draft. This phase also has the possibility of scrapping the post itself if I don't feel like I have done justice to what I wanted to communicate or what I have written is completely different from the theme of the post.

Posting (Deploying): In this phase, I proof-read my posts once to ascertain that it meets all the quality parameters and to find out any last minute errors. Believe me, it is really annoying to see a typo, or a sentence written in such a way that it doesn't make sense to the reader; it is more so to see it on your own blog. Once satisfied, I find out the place to post and then click "Publish". Done. 

But the task is not over yet...

Prologue (Documentation): After this I move on to write a prologue, a kind of head-start to the blog, for readers to know what they can expect from the blog, usually in the comment section and now on thinkXP.blogspot.com (but I do know it will be read only later, if at all).

Informing (Publicity): What's the use of so much hard-work if the people you have done this for don't know about it. So, I inform my (limited) readers in someway (mostly through messages, but later plan to use emails and SNS). 

The last phase is really like Maintenance. I wait for the comments if any, and then reply to them to 'maintain' the interest in the post until the next one comes.

You may be thinking that I have made something as simple and enjoyable as blogging, one hell of a task. But then, I pride myself to be a blogger, and it is a serious business for me. 

Finished Reading? So now help me in the maintenance part. Why don't you write something in the comment section? Appreciated :)

PS: All the things mentioned in this blog post were actually used during the construction of this blog post!