the blogging scramble

I’ve had cause to think about the blog in the last couple of weeks. In fact last week I abandoned the usual format and did something different – challenged myself to find five quotes that I really liked. They also had to say something related to academic writing.

Now, I made this little detour coming off a bumper week of hits. The post on five ways to organise a literature review was certainly pretty popular. While it wasn’t the most hits I’ve ever had for a post, it was up there. How did this happen? Well, not only did it use a number in the title, it also made a promise – to provide some succinct information about something that worries a lot of people.

I know that I could always write that kind of post.  And maybe I should because it’s what a lot of people find of most use and interest.

But the reality of blogging is a bit more complex. Not all the readers of the blog want unadulterated handy hints. So I want to do something that will keep these people interested too. But as importantly, I want to provide a broader view of scholarship and academic work and to just focus on how to do the expected stuff wouldn’t really fulfil that aim. And it certainly wouldn’t challenge the usual ways of doing things, and I like to do a bit of that too.

6540382097_55cc445ae5_bYou need to understand that I write this blog as a scramble, as Thesis Whisperer puts it. I never have a lot of posts in reserve, and it s not at all uncommon for me to be writing a post the night before it is published. I don’t get that many guest posts; they do just turn up out of the blue and are usually very gratefully received. They give me a bit of a breather, as well as providing other points of view.

But being a scrambling blogger does mean that I’ve built blogging into my regular writing routine. I know I’ll write and publish 2000 words each week and I do my first drafts in two separate hour long stints, usually on the weekend. But blogging this way does mean that I sometimes do scratch my head about content – I feel I have nothing more to say.

Last week, I discovered that I occasionally need to do some posts just for my own interest. In order to keep up my own energy for the blog, I have to appropriate it every now and then to do something that simply pleases me. This might be something a bit eccentric, a little off piste. But it is only a week or a single post. And being able to do something a bit different – just because I feel like it – helps me stay motivated.

I do have a list of potential blog topics which I keep as a running sticky note on my screen. And I have a folder which has incomplete posts which I’ve abandoned because I’m not yet happy with them. I may never return to some of them. But I still reach a point where I sometimes just need to do something a bit weird. Something that’s not the same. Something that interrupts the regular pattern of posts.

I guess that’s a kind of sustainability strategy. Do something odd. Something a bit more creative. Something I enjoy just because I can.

I’d be very interested  to know what other long term solo bloggers do to keep themselves going.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in blogging about blogging, blogging as scramble, sustaining blogging, time for blogging and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to the blogging scramble

  1. Olga Walker says:

    Hello, I really enjoy your Blogs and find them informative. but not in an intrusive way. I am an occasional Blogger about the reflexive process involved with my creative practice PhD and really appreciate how much can be learnt through ‘play’.

    I’m just about to start on Draft two of the exegesis…the Lit Review Chapter…and how to use the info there to write a ‘good’ journal article…while at the same time I’m looking for appropriate Journals…so thank you for all your hard work:):)
    kind regards

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Mitchell says:

    Hi there, I’ve been reading your blog quietly for over two years and enjoy the eclectic approach – it feels real to me. I’m currently in the middle of writing up my PhD and your blogs are always a welcome sight in my mail box as they provide insight , humour and creativity to what often feels like quite a lonely task. Thanks for being a constant harbour in a sometimes uncertain journey. 🙂


  3. Yep. I still have so much to share … whether anybody is interested in following/reading it has become a mute point. Try doing something completely different to spice up all that theory and all those senseless rules and regulations that clog our brains throughout our academic lives – get out and do it. Break rules, please oneself. Look and read beyond our ‘interests’. Observe and keep on seeing it as new. If it’s not looking that way – move on.
    All the best from Savannakhet, Lao PDR – Annabelle, failed Melbourne academic and blog writer with still too much to say/show/reflect on.


  4. Katrina McChesney says:

    How interesting 🙂 I’ve never blogged so can’t share my experience there, but I do wonder to what extent your description of your blogging experience parallels your other ‘research’ writing … perhaps in terms of the sticky note on the screen, the folder full of unfinished pieces? Last minute writing to meet deadlines? Trying to find things to work on that sustain your interest and energy? I always appreciate that your blog *isn’t* just the ‘handy hints’ but gives us a glimpse inside the world (and home, and mind …) of a real, practicing academic. I read something recently that suggested aspiring researchers should always have six journal articles under review at any time, plus others at different points in the ‘pipeline’ and this came to mind as I read your post. That makes me think the whole academic life must be a ‘scramble’ just to keep up and keep on top of it all!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Naomi Barnes says:

    Hi Pat
    I think it depends on someone’s motivation for blogging. I blog as inquiry, extrapolating on Richardson and St Pierre’s writing as inquiry. Blogging adds an audience which makes a difference to if I did it in a private journal.
    Thanks for your insight. Your blog is always a go to when I have an aca question


  6. Pat, I’m nowhere near as prolific and experienced as you, but I, too, am a blogging scrambler. I’ve found that while I can’t plan content and schedule multiple posts in advance, I can build blogging into my week so that I post regularly (for me that’s evolved into once per week, on a Friday; having a particular day gives me a writing routine).

    I also find that I vacillate between what others might like to read or find useful, and what I like to write and find useful for my own thinking. Your blog is readable and interesting because you don’t write driven by clicks, likes and reader desire for ‘unadulterated handy hints’ or ‘top 5s’. Off-piste writing and personality-revealing musings help to give depth, dimensionality and voice to what you’re offering the blogosphere.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s heartening to know that you struggle with content and with weird. 🙂



  7. Mike Lambert says:

    Thank you, Pat. I make my own humble attempts at blogging on a Facebook page: It is rather a one-way process – comments and queries are relatively infrequent. More responses come as messages on a page of materials on Academia:

    Most Facebook postings, I must admit, are ‘tips’, often drawing on useful links or the writing of others. Yes, anything to do with literature reviews proves very popular; guidance on academic writing comes a close second.

    I too keep a file on my computer, jotting down ideas, things seen and experienced, and making use of these. I like to do a series of postings on a particular theme (tips on ethics, for instance), also to warn followers about times when there will be no postings (even bloggers need a holiday sometimes).

    And sometimes too ideas run out. But then suddenly lots come at once to supply the coming weeks and months.

    The best source of all, as it seems to be for you, is one’s own real experiences as a researcher and academic: a difficulty in one’s own work, a query raised at a tutorial, a common error in students’ written texts. I am retired from full-time work now, but for this reason in particular like to keep a hand in with actual practice.

    I should say too, Pat, that I frequently share your postings on the Facebook page. Thank you for all the considered guidance you give, and the prompts you provide for thinking carefully and critically about research and study. Keep them coming, please.


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