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Paying Yourself First - Starting the day with blogging...

A few weeks back I found myself on a Friday realizing that in the entire week:
I had not published a single blog post.
Not one. Not on any of my blogs. Now, just to put this in context, please do realize that I'm currently writing across eight blogs:

The last one is a podcast versus a blog - but I didn't put out a podcast that week, either. Now I did twitter and I did manage to send in my weekly 5-minute report to For Immediate Release, but that was it.

Now you would think with eight different blogs out there - and with part of my role at Voxeo being explicitly to blog (i.e. I am being paid to blog!) - you would think I would have written at least something somewhere! But I didn't.

Why not?

Simple really...

I wasn't "paying myself first".

That's a term I first heard used in this context by Jeremiah Owyang a bit over a year ago but it accurately captured how I had been working at the time and I enjoyed the succinctness of Jeremiah's statement.

You see, I've been blogging now for over 8 years ever since starting a "diary" at a little known open source site called Advogato back in May 2000. I moved over to LiveJournal in 2004 and then to my current suite of blogs over 2005-2006 (and then launched Voxeo's blogs in late 2007). At this point I've literally written thousands of blog posts across all those blogs. When I've been at my most prolific, it has largely because I've done what Jeremiah succinctly captured in his post:

I've paid "myself" first.

I've set aside some time at the very beginning of the day when I would just write. Write something... in some blog. Invest the time then to add content to the various sites where I write.

Before getting sucked into the screaming black hole vortex of e-mail... before getting sucked into all the many customer-facing projects on my plate... before getting sucked into the Twitter stream or RSS feeds... before getting sucked into whatever IETF mailing lists I need to be monitoring and documents I need to edit... before getting sucked into IM conversations...

Before all of that daily maelstrom, taking a moment to just... write.

I'd been doing that long before I saw Jeremiah's post but just hadn't really realized my own pattern (or named it). I remember seeing his post, realizing that it was essentially what I did and being pleased to understand it was something others did as well. (The ever-prolific Chris Brogan has mentioned in the past that this is also his pattern.)

When I've followed that pattern, I've found that I do post with some regularity. When I don't, as I didn't that week a while back... well, it's way too easy to get sucked into the vortex that is daily life....

I find it's extremely hard to do if you don't make a focused effort... it's way too easy to start plowing through email, scanning through IM group chats or, even worse, scanning through the Twitter stream... start doing that and of course one thing leads to another and pretty soon you wind up consumed in all the regular daily work flow.

After realizing that, I decided to change my own schedule a bit. My daily routine no longer lets me write early in the morning as I used to do (largely because a certain young member of the household snaps wide awake at 5:30am :-) ) but I have now taken the step to block of the first hour of my work day in my calender simply to... write. We'll see how that goes. Now obviously I do spend other blocks of time writing... but the goal of the morning block is to ensure that I do write every day. That's the theory, anyway. We'll see.

What do you do to keep up with writing? Do you block out a specific time? Do you "pay yourself first" and start in the morning? Or do you block out time late at night? Or do you just write whenever it strikes you to do so? (Or have you not thought about how you write?)

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