Blogging as deliberate practice

3508542772_0c99f51901_zI’ve written here (and elsewhere) before of how I’ve come to see blogging as my daily writing practice. I write for a living, and I need to get better and more efficient at it. Just as a musician might spend time playing scales, I spend time blogging.

Whether I’m getting better is hard to say. But I am definitely getting faster. Last week, my Fortune editor sent a note on Wednesday morning asking if I’d do an on-the-news piece based on Steven Cohen’s argument that he didn’t see the email at the center of the insider trading investigation because he only read 11% of his emails. My editor wanted to know: Is that typical?

I thought it would be a fun piece. There was just one problem. I was stuck at the doctor with my toddler, who’s fairly strongly cross-eyed. We’ve spent some serious time this summer figuring out exactly how that should be treated. Those of you who’ve gone through the fun of seeing specialists with your children — and getting second opinions! — know that such visits are not exactly swift.

Anyway, this particular visit wound up being a 4.5 hour ordeal from door to door. I’d sent an email to a source from the waiting room, and set up an interview at 1 p.m. I pulled in the door from our 9 a.m. appointment at 12:45 p.m. I quickly hunted down some other stats, then did my interview at 1. I got off the phone around 1:15, cranked out a 500-word piece and filed by 1:50 p.m. It was up on the site by 2:30

It’s not my best work, but 35 minutes for a 500-word piece is fast. Years ago, I would have budgeted at least 90 minutes, if not more, to turn something from quotes and stats into a piece. I’m realizing I can definitely do multiple pieces a day if I try. Often I don’t want to try — particularly if I’ve spent 4.5 hours entertaining a toddler in a doctor’s waiting room with little more than the items in a diaper bag — but I could. That’s what blogging as practice has done.

How do you practice parts of your job?

Photo courtesy flickr user Vee-vee

11 thoughts on “Blogging as deliberate practice

  1. I am sorry to hear about your toddler. My daughter has that issue… We found a great vision therapist on the web, just 1 mile from our house. He has done wonders with her, since she was basically blind in one eye when we found out.

  2. Sorry you are dealing with this with your daughter—I hope you found a good pediatric optho and got some answers.
    I have been trying to schedule professional writing into my regular schedule for “practice” rather than the usual writing binges on deadline I’d been doing. It is helping immensely (or was, I seem to have gotten off track this summer…) with the quality and efficiency of my writing.

  3. I hope things workout with your toddler. My daughter had Strabismus and once we had surgery, thankfully, it was corrected.

    On writing, I have been struggling with starting a blog for the past 2 years+. I really want to write a blog to improve my writing, but cannot seem to come up with a topic/focus that I’m passionate enough about. I think if I found the right topic, I would make the time regularly to write. Any suggestions?

    1. @sukeina- I think you figure out what are the right topics just by writing. Your blog can be all over the place at the beginning. As you build an audience, you’ll figure out what you feel passionate about and what people respond to. I hope!

  4. As you know, we’re on that same eye-crossing path and have had some horribly long appointments too. I don’t really get it – pediatric specialists must realize that little kids are not going to be at their best after 1+ hours, right?! Sigh. Anyway, hope you find the right one – we’re on our 3rd eye doctor.

    I’ve definitely found that work has made my personal email correspondence more efficient (excluding the ones that really are just for reaching out to friends and asynchronously chatting). I’m much quicker with doing business over email, like our communications with our remodeling contractors. They actually mentioned it at our last meeting 🙂

    1. @ARC – I don’t get it either. I was excited about this second opinion place because they gave me an appointment right away. But then we had to wait forever in the office. I would have been willing to wait a few weeks for an appointment if it would have cut our wait time in half.

  5. Thanks for sharing this success story, Laura! I recently wrote a post about why I blog, mostly because I needed to remind myself. One of the primary reasons I blog is to improve my writing. I am still frustrated with the amount of time I allow one blog post to take, but I am encouraged by your story.

    1. @Jacey- thanks for your comment. Know that I know blogging is practice and is helping me improve, I feel much better about the time I put into it. It’s like practicing the piano for an hour a day… if I’d ever done that 🙂

  6. Enjoyed your Freelance Writers Den call today! I think this tip—practice—was my favorite. I often procrastinate about blogging because I wonder if anyone will read it or “who cares” what I have to say about random things. But it really doesn’t matter. As long as I treat my blog as I would any professionally-written story, I’ll feel good about it. Still figuring out my style and that is ok! Thanks for this tip.

    1. @Davina – thanks for dialing into the call! I probably don’t spend as much time revising blog posts as I would a paid story, but I definitely try to write so that if someone read it they wouldn’t think “do not hire this woman.” Here’s to happy blogging!

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