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Frank Paynter asks, I answer.

How Do I Blog?

A few days ago, the estimable Mr Paynter sent out to the world this question: How do you blog? Since Frank has been a nice person to me and since I thought it was an interesting question, I'm giving an answer a go.

The precise question I'm answering, since "how" can mean a lot of different things, is, the means and the processes by which I post stuff to my weblog. How do I think up a blog entry? How do I compose it? How do I publish it? What do I take into consideration throughout all these steps?

I blog all the time in my head. In fact, I blogged in my head long before there was blogging. My brain is a running commentary on everything. As I sit on the train on my way to work, as I walk down the sidewalk on my way to grab some lunch, as I stroll through the grocer's to pick out the night's ingredients for dinner, I am thinking about something. And it's usually a verbal kind of thinking. I'm picking out the right word to use, the right way to phrase something. I'm trying to tell some invisible someone about this thing (which may or may not be related to my current situation) that I'm thinking about. I have lots of great blog entries stored in the archive of my brain. Ninety-nine percent of them never get typed out.

Then one Saturday afternoon, or maybe it's my lunch break at work, I finally have one thing that's been playing itself over and over in my head and I just have to type it out so it'll leave me alone. All the dishes are finished and the laundry is going. My plate of food is still half full and it's only 12:30. I pull up a command-line prompt. Many people might find those scary. It's a black window with white text that doesn't have any menus, buttons, widgets, icons, form fields, or popups. It is all about pure, unadulterated text.

In my little command window, I type ssh jngm.net and connect to my ISP. Then I type vi. And then somehow words flow out of my fingers and I'm writing the thing that has been rolling around in my brain for a while. It usually turns out almost completely different from all that composition and revision I'd been hashing out in my head. I also type all the HTML tags I need in my post as I write. Whenever I need a new paragraph I just type <p> and keep going. Whenever I need a hyperlink I put in a link tag with a blank href attribute, and then go back through the article when I'm done, pasting in all my URLs. A lot of the time I have pictures in my posts, so I do the same type of thing with images. I spend so much time composing HTML that it flows pretty easily, and I think I would get frustrated with a nice graphical interface like Blogger has.

I type for usually an hour or so, when I can. About 35 minutes into that hour, if I'm at home, Mr Wiggins says, Whatcha doing Miss James? (Or sometimes he says, Whatcha doing girl girl?). I'm writing about that thing, I say back. At this point I know I only have a limited time left before Mr Wiggins' boredom quota runs out and it's time to go play frisbee at the park.

When it looks like I don't need to type anymore, I check everything I've written with a crappy little preview python script I wrote. I check all the links and the pictures. I check my own spelling and grammar — and usually do OK without a software spellchecker (I do have my bad days though). I tweak and I fix. I edit a bit more. I consider. Usually all of that takes about as little time as possible, because by now after all that exhausting writing I just wanna get this thing over with. Mr Wiggins asks me what I'm doing again. I tell him I'm still writing about that thing.

Then, with my magical command-line powers, I use another crappy little python script I threw together to put everything I just wrote into my blog's database (which I also threw together). Then some other crappy python scripts display it on my website for you, dear reader.

Then I check for any new comments made on any of my blog posts. Lately it has been with daily obsessiveness, though not always. I make sure that no comment spam has slipped through my crappy little python script that weeds out the comment spam. Usually everything's pretty quiet.

Then I think about all the new stuff that I want to develop to use Technorati tags, or ping some service, or actually finally implement a search page on my site for once and bloody all, and then someone asks me to do some website thing for them, and me (sucker that I am) totally get sucked into that, and I don't get home until 8pm and don't eat dinner until 10, and then I watch that new movie that just came out (did you see it yet?) and I don't blog for another three weeks.

At 29-12-2005 04:54AM Steen luethke@concentric.net commented:

I like the bit about blogging in your head. I do the same thing, but I always thought of it more as rehearsing my lines. Blogging in your head sounds a lot less artificial, though, and describes the thought process better.

Mind if I steal the phrase? Or just borrow it occasionally?

At 29-12-2005 12:36PM ARJ roceal@jngm.net commented:

Well, I don't think I have any particular claim on it-- feel free to steal away! :-)

About the Geek Icon

This is the weblog of a computer geek with a thousand interests, documenting the ins and outs, ups and downs of her daily life. A dual citizen of the US and Australia who has settled (for the time being) in Sydney. Read more about her on the bio page.

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