Shaping the Blog Post You’re Writing

She walked up to me right after I spoke at a WordCamp. I was stepping down off the stage and I assumed that she wanted to give me feedback or ask a question related to my just-finished talk. I was wrong. Her question was completely unrelated to the topic I'd spent forty minutes on.

She asked me, “What's your secret for writing blog posts every day?”

I had an answer

I answered in a single word: framing.

I've said it before – I don't feel like much of a writer. Instead, I feel like I'm more a public speaker who isn't on stage as much as before, and so has embraced blogging as a way to communicate.

But I craft blog posts the same way I craft a presentation: I use a structure.

We all appreciate structure

Ever been to the movies? Have you ever sat there, just ten minutes in, after one of the main characters dies, and you say to the person sitting next to you, “they're not really dead”?

How do you know that? Framing.

You know that there's no way that the movie folks would have killed off the main character in this story so quickly.

But the whole reason you know that is because you know that the first part of the movie introduces you to characters. And the second part introduces you to some problem. And the third part creates the potential to solve the problem. And in the fourth part, the solution is applied and you see how it fits.

And in the quick wrap up at the end, you see how everyone has changed.

That structure – parts one through five – is a well-known frame.

Here's one frame I use

When I write a blog post, I have four or five framing structures I use to help me write more quickly. They're the same ones I use when I speak in public.

I'll keep a few of them private, but for the sake of this post, let me share one of them.

My Introduction – explains how I came upon the question I'm going to address.

My Answer – quickly answers the question, in case people want to grab it and leave.

An Example / Metaphor  – since people learn better with examples they can understand, I often use a metaphor to explain my answer.

Deeper Details – only the serious folks may get to this part of the post, but here's the juicy tid bits that really address the issue.

Closing Story / Call to Action – tell the end of the story I started at the beginning and challenge people

The frame I've listed above isn't just one of the ones I use, it's what I'm using in an article like this. Look it over and see if you can match things up.

She walked away unhappy

When I explained that I use frames as structures that help me shape my content, allow me to plan better, and then let me sit and just crank out a post, I thought she would be excited.

But I could tell when the words started coming out, that I wasn't sharing what she wanted to hear. She wanted a silver bullet. She wanted a secret answer that didn't include daily discipline and work.

And I didn't have that magic bullet for her. So I think she walked away frustrated.