Next up we have a spotlight on our speaker, Sam Chiarelli, who will be presenting a roundtable on the Challenges of Blogging Consistently.
Sam Chiarelli’s writing focuses on science and natural history topics. His forthcoming book, Dig, explores humanity’s fascination with dinosaurs and is scheduled for publication in 2018. Chiarelli earned a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Wilkes University and serves as the Vice Marketing Chair for HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers. He blogs at ThisDayInDinosaurs.com.
Here’s what he had to say about his own challenges of blogging consistently.
Writing a blog post every day sounds terrifying? What made you want to start doing it?
The idea actually came from attending BlogCon several years ago. I tried to start the daily dinosaur blog once or twice before. I wrote only a few posts each time before running out of interest and stamina. I needed something really challenging to get motivated, and I hoped that readers would also be excited by the concept.
How has writing so often changed your daily routines?
Starting a writing routine for any project is difficult, but with this kind of daily blogging, you don’t have a choice. I also have to plan around life events. Sometimes I’m a couple of days ahead or a few weeks behind.
My bedtime is usually a bit later to accommodate the blog, or I have to take time away from friends to get posts written.
Since your post content is based on historical events, do you have any favorite posts?
I have a condition which triggers jubilation for anything to do with dinosaurs, so I’m not sure I have any particular favorites. But on days where I can’t find any dino-related events in the realms of science or pop culture, I pick a topic and do a long-winded ramble. Letting go and digging into the bigger themes in dino-mania is a lot of fun.
What are the top three challenges you’ve faced throughout This Day in Dinosaurs?
1.) Routine. I was excellent for the first 6 months and then my motivational guilt subsided and I took a summer hiatus. I’m hoping to be back in full gear before BlogCon so I can face my fellow bloggers without shame.
2.) Time. Finding time to write is extremely difficult, even when subject matter is planned out in advance. Searching for a balance between living life every day and hitting all my writing targets is a perpetual struggle.
3.) Initial research. The data collection for the dates at the beginning of this process took several months. I combed through my book archives and searched the web on innumerable occasions. It was daunting to have a blank spreadsheet, but I loved the process.
This process sounds like what a runner would see as a marathon. Did you do any training beforehand?
My only “training” would be writing a dinosaur book for the past six years. I had no idea how to condense two and a half decades of dinosaur fandom into a cohesive piece, so I developed a lot as a writer through that process.
By the time the book was done, I had a ton of topics left over that were perfect for the blog. Plus, I learned a huge amount about specific fossils, discoveries, and people that I never would have researched had it not been for the blog. So the best training, as always, is to be voraciously curious.
What advice would you offer someone thinking of this blogging style?
Think long and hard about whether you want to do this. If you’re prone to feeling guilty about not writing, or easily become unhappy with what you’ve written, this kind of project can get you down.
On the other hand, if you want to “go the distance”…if you want to test your inner Federalist-Papers-era Alexander Hamilton writing chops…then this kind of massive undertaking might be just the project to get you going. It’s a great way to build a platform for yourself and become a better writer.
Select subject matter that won’t bore you. Even if you’re only going to write every day for a month–if you don’t love your topic, it’ll get old fast.
Plan your content as far in advance as possible. It’s much easier to write when you have a direction and goals in mind.
Keep your posts short. Mine are usually far too long and time-consuming. Save yourself!
Log your process. It’ll keep your spirits up.
Go for it. Why not try something more ambitious and out of the ordinary? What’s the worst that can happen?