It’s been an eventful two months. My daughter got married—so I did a lot of planning. My other daughter got a new job—so I helped her find a new apartment and move. My mother-in-law sold her home—more searching for homes and eventually moving her into our house. There were shake-ups at work that resulted in many late nights of worrying and polishing my resume. And, of course, it’s the holiday season—that means decorating, parties, shopping, and baking. So, there’s been a lot going on lately.
Naturally, readers aren’t going to accept, “I haven’t posted in three weeks because I’ve been helping my mother-in-law pack up 50 years of memories.” So what do you do when life takes you to Crazytown, but you’re still on a deadline? You pull out that jewel you’ve been saving—the extra post.
If you’re expected to post on a regular schedule you always should have one post ready to use in an emergency. It’s your extra post…the one you held onto just in case you needed it.
Make the Extra Post Evergreen
Your extra post should be something that can be used at anytime during the year. That means no personal anecdotes that mention a specific time of the year and no information suited to a particular time period. This should be a piece that fits in equally well whether it’s published in the dead of winter or as fireworks explode on July 4th.
Make the Extra Post Your Best
When writing a post you aren’t going to publish immediately, you may be tempted to dash off a quick article without putting much effort into it. After all, you may never use it. Resist that temptation.
Write something so good you think, “I want to post this today!” Chances are, if you have to resort to publishing your extra post, you won’t be in a place to produce stellar writing. After all your life probably took you down a temporary detour to Crazytown. So, when you have to use that extra post, your readers will be grateful to read a piece that reflects the real you—and your great writing—even if you are still in Crazytown.
Lose the Extra Post
Okay… Don’t actually lose your extra post. But store it somewhere marked “emergency,” and save it for a true emergency. Don’t talk yourself into believing that four loads of dirty laundry, a weekend getaway, or a rainy Tuesday qualify as a writing emergency. Trust me, part of you will try, whining, “But it’s already there, and I don’t feel like writing today.” Ignore, ignore, ignore.
Not feeling like writing is not an emergency. Neither is writers’ block! Break through that writers’ block or you’ll be in the exact same situation tomorrow—except you won’t have an extra post hidden away.
When to Use the Extra Post
A good way to determine when to allow yourself to use the extra post is to plan your next post—just an idea for the one you would write if you could. Sometimes the idea itself is enough to make you find the spare moments to write even when you think you’re stuck in Crazytown with no way to get it written.
But sometimes you can’t even find time for a great post idea. If you find yourself mulling over the idea longingly but realize there’s no way to write it by deadline, pull out your extra post.
Customize the Extra Post
Now that you’re committed to using your extra post, dedicate ten minutes to updating it. After all, even though it is an extra post, it shouldn’t read like one. When you wrote it is was evergreen, but, now that you have to use it, take time to read it over.
Can you add a little something that will make it seem like you wrote it just yesterday? Now is the time to take the evergreen out of it by adding some seasonal details or current events that place it in the present.
While you’re re-reading it, double check that it isn’t dated in any way. Do you mention a person, event, or thing that isn’t as trendy as when you first wrote the piece? Replace it with something more current or improve it with something that you’ve learned since writing it originally.
What’s the most important rule for using your extra post? Replace it within seven days. You never know when you’ll be taking another trip to Crazytown.
Tell me in a comment below.
About the Author
Jodi Webb has written advice columns on organization, text for Nintendo DS games, trivia questions for charity fundraisers, and toy and book reviews in addition to annual reports, press releases, and company brochures. She’s written hundreds of articles for magazines such as Birds and Blooms, PTO Today, and The History Magazine. The former blog tour organizer at WOW—Women on Writing, she currently works for a small regional newspaper
Image copyrigh: Iulian Dragomir