While I was flicking through some websites, I thought I’d explain a bit about what I actually do when I write and post to this blog. I wouldn’t say I’ve set the world ablaze but for myself, I’ve found the process to be an interesting experience regarding writing in a more social and interactive (and less formal) manner than I have ever done before.
The blog has taken on something of a life of its own. Sometimes I wonder if I will be able to sustain it but those thoughts have been becoming less frequent with time. You plant the seeds and see what, if anything, will grow.
Firstly, I almost without fail write in the morning before work. It’s a quiet time in the house when my partner is still asleep. Not that he’s a bother, I just find it much easier to think when I’m on my own in the room!
Usually, I try and mix up a bit between personal stories of things that happen at work, some general social work stuff and some general mental health stuff. I work with older people so usually there is a bias towards issues that affect them as it is the area that I remain the most interested in.
So firstly, I run through a few websites (mostly those highlighted on the sidebar with a few extras) just to see what is happening and what other people are saying.
If the day has brought anything in the ‘real world’ that I think is particularly interesting or even if it hasn’t and it just inspires me to write, I might write about an incident, a meeting or expand on a thought that I had during the day when I was sitting on the bus or trudging the streets on my way to see someone.
If a news story grabs me, and sometimes it isn’t the most obvious, I might write about it. My initial idea was that I’d do a few ‘link posts’ during the week but I haven’t really been managing that very well – partly because I generally like to find something I can apply a little commentary on.
Most of my news comes from Community Care, Guardian Society, socialworknews and Google News which I search with ‘social work’, ‘social care’, ‘mental health’ and sometimes just random general words that tickle my fancy!
I try and skim, at least, some of the main newspaper sites, the Guardian, the Times, The Independent, The Telegraph, Reuters (I know it isn’t a newspaper but I count it!), BBC … The Daily Mail (I know, I know – to understand the enemy you have to know him.. ) and The Evening Standard.
When I find something that grabs me, I’ll write.
I use delicious, the ‘social bookmarking’ site, extensively. I don’t do very much social with it, but it keeps my bookmarks in order. I also tag anything I see that I think I might write about later with a ‘todo’ note.
Apart from my family, there are three people I know that I have told about this. One is a social worker that I did my MA with now working in Children Services in a different local authority from me. Another is an OT that I’ve known before either of us even considered professional qualifications when we worked together as care assistants and the other works in a completely different field (funnily enough, I think she’s the only one that actually reads this on a consistent basis and she should recognise herself from this.. and if either of the other two are (who should also know, then this is their chance to tell me!).
My decision to remain anonymous wasn’t because I thought I’d be particularly critical about work. Apart from gripes and some dissatisfaction with policies which I am sure would happen anywhere – I am, for the most part, fine with things there. If I didn’t complain, I wouldn’t be human! I made the decision because I thought full disclosure would expose me – I also write about some of the people I see (although I do change some of the details). I also want to reserve the right to be possibly critical in the future!
I use Windows Live Writer. I love it and could honestly not do a thing without it.
I find it much much easier to put in links and pictures – I know WordPress is easy but not easy enough for me! Live Writer, however, is and for me it’s the difference between writing and not writing.
For pictures, I use Flickr and on the front screen I click on the ‘Creative Commons’ part (so I don’t have to worry about copyright as long as the photos are attributed) and then do a search on something that might be relevant to what I’m writing about.
I try to find pictures without faces if I can. I know it isn’t necessary but it’s just something I try to do.
I love Flickr. I put lots of my photos on there anyway and have been using it for years!
The only pictures I don’t credit are pictures that I have taken myself (or the ones from my sister which are the where the cat photos come in!).
Another thing I’ve tried with pictures is Zemanta, which is a little programme that automatically finds licence-free pictures, links, related articles based on the content of the post. My experience has been a little mixed but that’s where the photos from Wikipedia come from – and the links from Wikipedia. It’s a nice little tool but not one I’d depend wholly on!
Sometimes I schedule posts, for example, last weekend, I had some houseguests staying in the lounge (where my computer is) so I wrote some posts before they came and scheduled them to publish.
I currently have about 5 or 6 ‘nearly’ posts that I’d be able to drop immediately if I didn’t have time or woke up late (that’s happened a few times!). I often write something extra at the weekend.
Forget what it says in my ‘about me’ section. I don’t really take Sunday off. I might write a few drafts – but I don’t want to commit to posting daily so I try to withhold any thoughts for Monday!
Things I have gained through blogging
I feel a part of different communities as a result. Comment is king in that sense. You really feel you get to know people and that is the most wonderful thing.
A deeper and more whole understanding to some extent of what is it like to experience the service that I provide
I pay more attention to relevant news in my field
I actually read more about research papers and take a more active interest
Reflection, reflection, reflection.
Better writing (I’m not entirely convinced on this but it’s supposed to be good for you to write consistently!).
Less television (not always a bad thing, but in some ways I think some of my free time is more gainfully used now!).
I’m sure there are lots more positives and would welcome any additional ideas!