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10 Ways to Blog when you’re not Blogging

How do you keep your blogging fingers nimble and your blogging mind active when you’re not blogging?

How do you make sure it feels easy and natural to re-enter the blogging sphere when you’re ready to come back from a break?

The answer:

Keep blogging even when you’re not.

Here are some of my hows:

1. Read other blogs

(Yes, blog reading is an integral part of blogging)

2. Comment on other blogs (ditto)

3. Stay in touch on Twitter

4. Work through your archives

Tidy up.  Fix your categories.  Read and learn from what you’ve already written.  It’s telling you something.

5. Set up new blog spaces to practice and experiment

Blogs give us space to explore, to try things out, to write with a different voice (maybe more like our own).  We can get tongue tied writing for others.  Private space that no-one knows about can give you the chance to get back into the writing groove again.

6. Journal write

Keep your writing fingers going by writing in a journal.  Hand-written, typed, it doesn’t matter.  Keep the ideas turning and the words flowing.  Some of it is bound to be material you’ll use later.

7. Jot down ideas, links and resources

As you read, tweet, stumble, tumble… keep a note of interesting things you find.  You can use them later.

8. Watch, listen, learn how other people do things

Explore new sites.  Soak up ideas.  Watch how people organise their material and set things out.  You don’t have to be drinking in their words, just the way they do things.  Ways you can do things.

9. Feed your inner geek by trying out plugins and themes

As you travel you’ll find resources you can try, play with, experiment with, learn about and from.  It’ll keep your inner geek happy :-)

10. Share material in other ways

There are lots of ways you can share material, your own and other people’s, without blogging.  Share conversations on Twitter, share quotes and links on Tumblr, share photos on Flickr.

Of course I was still blogging when I wasn’t blogging.  What else did you expect? ;-)

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  1. Daniel says:

    Wooh. Been some time since I’ve seen a new article from you on my reader. ;)

    One of the things that really help improve on my writing lately is by taking a step back and reading up on blogs and understanding why their writing actually works (as in capturing my attention, and spending time reading through the article) which will be immediately applied to my blog.

    It works after some blogging practice (even when not blogging). :)
    .-= Daniel´s last blog ..5 Ways to Uncomplicate Your Week =-.

  2. Patricia says:

    I liked your pictures. When I am not blogging I am still writing. I carry a journal everywhere - some carry a camera!
    When I am peeling vegetables I think of things I would like to tell someone…share and I fantasize about what they might reply.

    Today I am actually going to tell someone my story in shorthand and it needs to be in about 500 words….detailed….first Dr. visit with a new Naturopathic Dr. not covered by ins. blogging helps me be precise - saves money and hopefully will get results

    Welcome back…enjoyed the post
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Ecotopia ~ Ernest Callenbach, A Relook at an Inspiring Book =-.

  3. Iain Broome - Write for Your Life
    Twitter: iainbroome

    Smashing to see an article appear on the ol’ RSS reader Joanna. I too am experiencing something of a blogging hiatus (still novel-related!) but rest assured there’s plenty going on in the background. It’s important, using all the ways you describe, to remind people things are still ticking over in their own quiet way!
    .-= Iain Broome - Write for Your Life´s last blog ..Copywriters: ghosts of their writing selves? =-.

  4. Lori Hoeck says:

    Hi Joanna,
    Fun to see you at it even when you’re not. :-)

    What kind of long-horned bovine is that? Enjoyed your photos!
    .-= Lori Hoeck´s last blog ..Self defense for kids made easier with a game =-.

  5. Brad Shorr says:

    Joanna, I’m sensing a rejuvenated and refocused Joanna Young emerging … it’s great to be reading a new post from you today. Breaking away from the routine, as you’ve done so well and chronicled here, is something I’m going to be trying. I can’t wait … you may be getting some questions! :)
    .-= Brad Shorr´s last blog ..Big Packaging Innovation from a Small Business =-.

  6. Alexandra says:

    I always carry a small notebook with me, jotting down ideas for new posts. And I love the inner geek tip, I do that all the time ;-)
    Great tips Joanna, thanks!

  7. Ken says:

    I can personally testify to the truth of #4. I’ve been working through my archives from my first 10 months of blogging and I’m learning a lot about what precisely it is I’ve been writing about.

    Great advice.
    .-= Ken´s last blog =-.

  8. Davina says:

    Hi Joanna.
    So, this is how you stay aligned online when you’re ‘offline’ :-) “We can get tongue-tied writing for others.” — Yes, I SO get that concept. If I were not blogging (so to speak), I think I would enjoy going back over some older posts and reconnecting with the comments. I’ve seen it written that bloggers unleash more of themselves in the comment box than their own posts.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Book Review: WordPress Defender =-.

  9. Alina Popescu
    Twitter: alina_popescu

    Joanna, I always thought that not publishing posts equals not blogging. But seeing your list, I noticed that I do all that even when I’m not publishing fresh content. So my conclusion is we never stop blogging altogether :)

    It’s been really great to read a new post from you I’ve really missed it :)
    .-= Alina Popescu´s last blog ..Three important rules for your online presence =-.

  10. J-A Brock says:

    And you can always canvas some fellow bloggers and ask them to ‘guest post’. There are a few bloggers who do that.

    Good to hear from you again, though!
    .-= J-A Brock´s last blog ..The Ideas Bag =-.

  11. Friar says:

    Okay…I’m going to throw this crazy idea out there….hear me out…

    But how about just NOT BLOGGING? :-)

    You know, it’s OKAY to do that, and give yourself a break!

  12. George Angus says:

    Hi Joanna,

    I think those of us who are really serious about blogging work on it all the time, regardless of post count. I know I’ll be driving down the road, thinking about a topic for my next post or maybe seeing something that is image-worthy to include on the blog at some point.



  13. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Daniel hi, yep, that’s a good example of what I mean - the reading practice helps us to figure out what works (for us) as readers, lessons we can then apply to our own work… even if we’re not doing it consciously or deliberately, those lessons will be working their way in

    Patricia I love that ‘when I’m not blogging I’m still writing’… and I think once that practice becomes formed we’re always writing, even when we’re not… Like you say, you’re looking for ways to frame, capture and express the things that are important to you

    Iain I am resting assured - there’s always loads going on with you, not to mention the odd novel or two ;-)

    Lori it was fun writing it - I wanted to work my way back in without a big apology or explanation… maybe I was thinking like a black belt? ;-) The beast is a Highland coo

  14. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Brad I hope so / think so… it was good to take some time out to take stock and reflect on where I’ve been / where I’m going - well worth the investment. Re the questions - ask away!

    Alexandra excellent practices - I’m glad you’re keeping your inner geek happy :-)

    Ken I’m guilty of it too, but I know we don’t spend enough time reading our own words. They were often written for a reason, and the reason was often something that we needed to learn. Re-reading our words helps us to work things out, always. I’ve learned tons from mine. Glad you’re doing it too.

    Davina I’m really struck by your use of the word ‘unleash’… I wonder what it is about what you want to say that you’re still to unleash? Delving into the comments sounds like it could be fun - a bit like mining the archives, I’ll bet you’ll find lots of your own fired-up words there…

  15. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Alina I think the sad or is it happy truth is… once you start blogging you never really stop ;-) I’ve missed you too… it’s good to be back

    J-A yes, and I have done that in the past when I’ve been away… this was more about those times when you’re not actively writing / publishing for some reason, but still want to keep the blogging muscles going

    Friar you’re right, that’s just crazy! ;-)

    George as I said to Alina, the more you do it, the more it gets inside your head, doesn’t it? In a good way… I hope! Cheers for popping by

  16. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Joanna, this is excellent advice! I am currently on a break too and judging from my feed reader, I am not alone! You do need a re-entry plan that helps you comfortably pick up blogging again. I love your ideas.
    .-= Karen Swim´s last blog ..True Love =-.

  17. J.D. Meier says:

    #8 is my sweet spot.

    While life’s not a spectator’s sport, sometimes, being a fly on the wall really pays off.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Work is a Rubber Ball that Bounces Back =-.

  18. Andrew Heaton says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Long time since I’ve commented here!

    Mostly, I think it’s a good idea to have a clean break once in a while, so in my own personal case, I generally try to switch off from blogging completely every now and then.

    That said, there are times when we are not in clear break mode but not pumping out new material either, and I think that giving your blog a spring clean and some of the other things which you mention here are great to do during these times (my own blog is well overdue for a spring clean). Sometimes, bloggers have to step back a little and freshen up.

    (P.S. Interesting note - even though I have of course read your blog before, I actually got referred here the other day by a friend who I know entirely through means other than blogging. I mentioned to him about my ambition to pursue a career writing professionally. A few days later, he emailed me and said ‘check this out and see if it will be useful to you.’ I did. I followed the link and instantly recognised that he was referring me right here.

    I wrote back to him, explaining that I was already familiar with your blog, that it was an excellent reference for an aspiring writer, and that now he had prompted me, I intended to start reading much more often - all of which is completely true.

    Small world - you are famous!)
    .-= Andrew Heaton´s last blog ..You Tube: Google should not have to screen every video =-.

  19. Hilary says:

    Hi Joanna .. sometimes we need to catch our tail .. and all the things you’ve suggested just make so much sense .. we’re not blogging to just keel over in the chair?! Thanks - all things I’m in the process of doing .. great reading everyone’s comments and ideas too .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Women - how much education have women had in the past 2,000 years? =-.

  20. Debbie Yost says:

    It’s great that even when you take a break from blogging, when you come back, your readers are still there! Even when I thought I was gone for good, I still got hits and when I decided to come back, I still had many of my readers. Since then I started a blog for our company, too which has given me another outlet for my writing and since I can do it “on the clock” I can devote time to it that I can’t do on my personal blog. I still have to take away from my personal time for that so this is one more way I can keep blogging even when I can’t blog as much. It’s great to hear from you!
    .-= Debbie Yost´s last blog ..Math Teachers =-.

  21. Dianne says:

    Great post, Joanna, and so wonderful to see a Confident Writing post in my reader again! What did you find that made your inner geek happy? I came across PodClass yesterday, think it might be worth exploring. :o )
    .-= Dianne´s last blog ..Firing Our Creative Neurons =-.

  22. Seth M. Baker says:

    Hello Joanna. Great advice in this post.

    It’s always tough to keep blogging when you travel or are just busy with life. #7 (jot down ideas…) is useful for me. Especially when I’m on the road, keeping a running list makes it easy to come up with new ideas and remember them once I have a chance to write about them.
    .-= Seth M. Baker´s last blog ..8 Reasons to Slow Down =-.

  23. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Karen maybe we all should all blog without blogging… my reader numbers went up when I stopped writing :-) I enjoyed writing this as a way of easing back in, but doing things to stay connected in the gap definitely helped. Sticking with twitter, as you do, definitely helps. It can be hard jumping back into that pool after a break.

    J.D. you’re right, it does. It’s the same principle as reading to write… you absorb and learn.

    Andrew that’s it, we do need to stock take and spring clean sometimes, and it’s not always easy to do that when we’re turning out content at the same time. I’m glad to see you’re back - and thanks for letting me know I’m ‘famous’! ;-)

    Oh Hilary I most certainly hope not! Though there have been times when I’ve felt close to it…

  24. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Debbie such a good point, and one of the main reasons I knew I had to come back… I could see you all there :-) I saw from some comment luv that you were writing a business blog too - what a great way to build up those writing and blogging muscles!

    Dianne lots and lots… will be sharing bits and pieces of things I’ve found along the way over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

    Seth hello - jotting down ideas makes so much sense, not just when we’re on the move - it helps to catch things as they happen, but also wakens up our minds to the idea that we *want* to notice interesting and wonderful things, and then… hey presto it does :-)

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  26. Catherine Wentworth says:

    Hi Joanna! Thanks for stopping by today.

    I too carry a journal. I’ve up my tours around the country to come up with interesting posts and the different names, history (usually not easily found), and new Thai phrases, if not written down, are lost.

    I also like your suggestion to ‘work through your archives’. Mine were redone just last month and they have made a grand difference to WLT. I couldn’t find a plugin that did what I wanted/needed, so I coded them in by hand. The new archives do double-duty: Easier for people to choose a subject, and easier for me to see what is lacking.
    .-= Catherine Wentworth´s last blog ..Red Shirts 2010: The Faces of Day Three =-.

  27. Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for March 16, 2010 « Write Livelihood says:

    [...] 10 Ways to blog when you’re not blogging Joanna of Confident Writing blog discusses ways to stay connected with your blog even if you take a break from posting. [...]

  28. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Well Cat I wanted to let you know I’m still there… and still watching out for your welfare :-) It’s wonderful to see how the focus of your blog becomes a focus for your tours - places, pictures, words as you learn more and more about the rich culture of the place where you live.

    Good point about the archives revealing missing points for you as well as access points for the reader - and it doesn’t surprise me at all that you decided to create the fix you needed :-)

  29. Susan Mary Malone says:

    This is great, Joanna! The exact same thing can be said for writing in general, especially the correlation to reading. Reading others’ blogs keeps you connected, and the same way with reading others’ books. I’m always stressing this to my writers, and now I can use your blog analogy!

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    [...] ways to blog without blogging Print [...]

  31. Jo Castro says:

    Thanks for a great post and some useful kick-starting tips to rev-up the blogging engine. My best tip is to carry a tiny, palm sized notebook with me wherever I go into which go short phrases and memory jogging words. I currently have two blogs, but like you, I think I’m going to need to narrow my focus and concentrate on one. But I’d like to link to your great site over at my readers and writers blog, South Swan - in Australia where we are always eager for interesting writerly advice.

  32. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Jo hello, and yes please do link to what we’re doing over here. Narrowing the focus can work wonders though I have to confess I’m terrible at it, currently have two blogs running and a few other sites that catch loose ends that don’t fit elsewhere!