techmunch, tampa: creating content and finding time to blog

A night away from home can bring so many opportunities. A chance to go to bed as late as I want; or, in my case, as early as I want. A chance to keep the television turned off, and maybe even order room service. A chance to write and read in complete silence. A chance to refresh and recharge. A chance to have a wonderful kid-free dinner with a long-time friend, a friend I haven’t seen in too many years.

Last night, I did just that. All of the above, minus the room service.

So, what had me away from home last night? This:

Some time ago, Babette Pepaj — the founder of BakeSpace, the Cookbook Café, and the TECHmunch food blogging conference series — asked if I’d be interested in speaking when she brought the conference to Tampa. And I said yes!

I’m speaking on a panel with Sara from Average Betty and Sandi from Midlife Road Trip, and the panel is moderated by Erik Deutsch. Our topic is on planning and developing editorial content — blog content — and getting it out there for all to see.

When I tell people what I do — about all the things that keep me busy on a daily basis — I’m often met with an incredulous look. “How do you do all of that?” I’m asked, or “Where do you find the time?” It’s true, I’m busy. But really, I’m just like any other mother-of-two who works full-time outside the home. Who also writes a blog.

If you’re really interested in how I keep things going here on the blog, keep reading. Just like I’ll do in my panel later this morning, I’m sharing with you my tips for coming up with blog posts while still finding time to check off all of those other boxes on my daily to-do list.

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Creating content — stories and recipes — is about being open to inspiration.

I’m always ready for inspiration, and it’s been known to strike at the most inopportune times. Inspiration comes when I’m in the shower, when I’m in the middle of my clinic at work, or as soon as I’ve gotten in the car for a long drive. To overcome this, to take advantage of inspiration when it hits, I keep a pen and paper around at all times. While I’m driving, I use the voice recorder app on my iPhone. I carry my camera with me everywhere. If I don’t use my camera, I’ll use my iPhone camera. Visuals – images – can be inspiring, and they can trigger memories or word associations which can lead to an essay or recipe, or both.

I write about things I enjoy, or topics that hold my interest. I’ve learned that if I’m not having fun during the process, then I’m doing something wrong and I need to take a break. If I don’t like what I’m writing – or the process of writing it  – then the odds are that you won’t like reading it.

If I can find time to write a blog, so can you.

Finding time in your day is all about making priorities and sticking with them. I believe in prioritizing life and the various roles we play in it. My family is always top priority, with work somewhere close behind. I’ve learned, over time, that in order for me to be happy, I must make myself a priority, if not daily then at least weekly. Taking 30 minutes to write — or to read or to sit on the porch and listen to the birds or to exercise– is critical to my well-being. It makes me a better person.

I’m a believer in saying NO to things that don’t impact me in some positive way. If an opportunity will not make me happy, will not benefit someone I love, or will not help me become successful, I say no. If something I’ve been offered or asked to do will not be in my best interest, or if it goes against my gut feeling, I say no. Saying no can free up some valuable time for something else that ranks high on my priority list — like spending time with my family. Or writing.

Sometimes I must make sacrifices in order to write here, but because I value this site — I love this site — it’s worth it to me. I might get less sleep when I stay up late to write. I might have to skip watching Mad Men. (Thank goodness for DVR.) I might let the dishes pile up in the sink or the laundry sit, unfolded, in the hamper.

And finally, there are some practical tricks and tips that help me get blog posts written.

  • I work in the cloud: GoogleDocs and DropBox allow me to work anyplace, at anytime.
  • I often write posts, or at least start them, in advance, and I write on them as I find time. Sometimes it’s first thing in the morning, before work. Sometimes it’s when I have 30 spare minutes during lunch.
  • I make lists of ideas as they happen. This gets back to the notebook and pen I carry around. I also use a couple of note taking apps on my phone.
  • Using a social media app that allows for scheduling of tweets and Facebook posts comes in really handy. I use HootSuite, but I believe that TweetDeck will do this to.
  • I often schedule time on my calendar for writing. My calendar is incredibly important to me. If something is on my calendar, I make it happen.

Really, this is all about multitasking. I have found that the busier I am, the more I am able to accomplish. There’s a saying about that, isn’t there?

Now, I’d love to hear from you on this topic. What inspires you to write? How do you channel that inspiration, and how do you find time to create your own blog posts — or your book, or your photography portfolio, or whatever it is that you hold dear?

How do YOU do it?

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11 Responses to “techmunch, tampa: creating content and finding time to blog”

  1. 1
    Macaroni Mama — April 21, 2012 @ 8:19 am

    Very nice post.

  2. 2
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — April 21, 2012 @ 8:26 am

    Oh we are so two peas in a pod MJ. I work ahead (sometimes up to 2 months) on a calendar of posts. I make time to blog, to write, to photograph, because it’s so important to me. And yes, If we can find the time, so can anyone! (says she with a huge research project on her plate this weekend which will get done, it will just be punctuated with “blog stuff” for light relif!

  3. 3
    Aggie — April 21, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    Pictures definitely inspire me. So do quiet thoughts…and what I mean from that is i often get flooded with ideas while I’m running, swimming laps or even vacuuming. I walk away from a simple everyday “quiet” activity with my mind swirling with ideas.

    My problem is getting those ideas to happen. I’m starting to write in notebooks. I also have a blank editorial calendar that I use to pencil in future post ideas. (that’s been a big help)

    I also like starting drafts with just pictures and a recipe then going back in later to write. I found that sometimes breaking it up works best for me – unless my words just happen to spill out before then.

    I wish I was sitting on your panel!! Have a great time! xo

  4. 4
    Nelly Rodriguez — April 21, 2012 @ 8:50 am

    Definitely agree with an editorial calendar that I work off with about 2 months ahead of time as well. This just gives me peace of mind and things get done. During our off season, finding the time to blog was easy and now with the start of our season, it will definitely prove to be a little harder, thus I am writing and photographing recipes to have in drafts for when I can’t sit down to blog. Thanks for all the advice!

  5. 5
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — April 21, 2012 @ 8:53 am

    You are right… it really is all about multitasking. It isn’t THAT hard to do… though it can be time consuming. With that being said, I’m still amazed that you find the time to do it. Most bloggers are freelancers or stay at home parents. The fact that you balance this all so marvelously is an inspiration.

  6. 6
    Paula — April 21, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    Great post and yes, we all can find time to dedicate to our blogs as long as we prioritize it along with all of our other tasks. The most challenging thing I find about blogging is keeping up with those I follow. I feel blogging is all about connecting and sometimes my Google Reader and In Box can overwhelm me. I feel blogging is a two-way street and it is only fair and the respectful thing to do, make time to visit, read and leave a comment…make that connection. The best way I’ve come up with to manage that is to schedule time for just blog reading and commenting and I try to keep to twice daily.

    Best wishes for a great panel at Tech Munch

  7. 7

    I’ll understand if you decide this is a totally self-serving comment and delete it, but what if you could take a photo on your iPhone and, at your leisure, record a brief commentary which then could be posted to your blog as a video?

    Okay, I’m biased: It’s my app (PhotoVoice) that does exactly that. But I sure find it helpful in keeping a fresh flow not only of blog postings but also of tweets and, occasionally, Facebook updates.

    • 7.1
      Merry-Jennifer — April 22, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

      I like that idea, Dan. Thanks for sharing your app with us!

  8. 8
    Fran in Texas — April 22, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

    I have to admire all of you. I’m in the older crowd. and it sounds like an exciting time for you younger ones!

  9. 9
    Jenny @ BAKE — April 27, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    I find it’s amazing what you can do with the pockets of time that you would usually waste, sometimes I photograph things for my blog whilst eating my breakfast, or bake around making dinner. Hope your panel went well

  10. Pingback: finding balance and a blueberry buttermilk tart | The Merry Gourmet

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