Recently, a number of readers have shown an interest in how I go about creating a weekly article.
So I thought this would be a good week to take a look behind the scenes here at SCM.
And unpack the process of writing a blog post.
I wish I could say that I can knock out an article in a couple of hours.
But that just isn’t the case.
The truth is, it’s a lot of work that begins a week before hitting the publish button on Saturday morning.
Typically I sit down in the early afternoon on Saturday with a long list of reader requests.
As I peruse the list, I consider the time of year, the urgency of the request, and the number of weeks since I covered a similar topic.
I view SCM as a continuing education in effective classroom management, so I’m cognizant of the need to continually revisit previous themes.
I also want to make sure I circle back to our core principles and philosophies.
Further, we add over 100 new email subscribers a day, many of whom may be unfamiliar with our approach.
So, as I select a topic, I try to keep in mind both new readers as well as those who’ve been loyal followers since 2009.
There is also the question of motivation. As my eyes linger on a topic, if I’m not feeling inspired, then I skip down to something else.
Writing is hard enough.
If I don’t look forward to it, if I’m not mentally prepared to begin another week of deep thinking and concentration, then it becomes a painful slog to the finish line.
I’ll picture myself using the perfect strategy to match the situation. Sometimes, I’ll envision explaining the steps, and why they’re effective, to a colleague or struggling teacher.
I’ll let these thoughts and mental pictures percolate for the next 24 hours or so before doing any actual writing. This way, there is no hesitation when I finally open my laptop.
The words come in a torrent.
In the quiet of Sunday afternoon, I’ll slip out onto the deck behind my house and begin writing in earnest.
I like to choose a title first. Now, most blogging experts stress the importance of choosing a title that is as enticing and “clickable” as possible.
They also recommend including keywords, so the article is more visible in Google and other search engine rankings.
But I just want to make sure that the title reflects what the article is about—enticing or not. Not only does this make staying on message easier for me, but I think it’s more respectful to the reader.
I usually spend one to two hours working on Sunday. I’ll pour my visualizations out onto the page and try my darnedest not to do any editing.
Editing while writing slows the process and ultimately hurts the finished product. But it’s an alluring tempter I fight against every week.
On Monday, I’ll read through the article for the first time and make changes to content only. I’ll rearrange sections, rewrite passages, and begin cutting and simplifying.
This takes a couple of hours.
Tuesday looks much the same. I’m still crafting, clarifying, and rewriting the content in a way that is easy for the reader to understand, digest, and put into practice.
This is the goal, anyway, and I won’t stop for the day until I feel like I’m within striking distance.
Some days, if I’m lucky, this takes about an hour. Other days, I may be working on it for an additional two or three. (Yikes!)
On Wednesday, I’ll look at grammar and word usage.
I’ll cut out frivolous adverbs and adjectives. I’ll look up word meanings and search an online thesaurus for better, more descriptive choices. I’ll proofread again and again.
On Thursday, I read the article aloud and make rhythm and pace changes. I want the article to flow smoothly and logically from one sentence to the next.
Next, I come up with a concept for the image I include with every article. I have fun with this and don’t take it too seriously. My only goal is to capture the feeling of the article.
I work for about an hour each on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Friday, I transfer the article to WordPress, which is the blogging platform I use for the website.
I add links to other articles readers may be interested in. I optimize, resize, and place the image within the text. I select the category for the article and add bold and italicized font where needed.
Then I do another round of proofreading. It’s funny, but the article always reads differently when previewed on the website.
Inevitably, I’ll make a few changes. I’ll also run the article through Grammarly to make sure I didn’t leave out any words or write ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re.’
This takes one to two hours.
Finally, the article is ready for the big cheese, my wife, to read. She is also a teacher and has read everything I’ve written for the past 12 years.
I’ll pace the living room as she reads the article with her uniquely critical eye and nervously blow into my hands. When she’s finished, she’ll deliver the verdict.
She likes most of what I write but does occasionally offer suggestions.
She’ll also protect me from embarrassing mistakes (I’ve had a few) and ensure that the strategy or solution I recommend is explained in a way that she could apply in her own classroom.
On Saturday morning, I’ll read it aloud a couple more times, take a deep breath, and then hit “publish.”
It’s a good feeling—and I’ll get away from even thinking about writing or classroom management for a couple of hours.
I’ll enjoy a long and leisurely lunch.
Then begin the process all over again.
PS – I’m hard at work on The Smart Classroom Management Plan for High School Teachers, a downloadable e-guide that will be available on July 18th.
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