On Sunday I preached a sermon at my local church. I used to do this weekly when I worked as a minister years ago – but it’s been a while since I had to do it (funnily enough I find it a lot more nerve wracking getting up in front of a couple of hundred people to speak than writing a post for tens of thousands!).
As I was preparing for preaching last week it struck me how similar my ‘workflow’ for it was to putting together a blog post (although a blog post is usually a lot quicker in my experience).
This video identifies some of the stages I went through last week that are similar to how I go about writing many blog posts.
Notes: See the full sized video here. Video shot on a Panasonic Lumix DMC GF1 (aff) – here’s why I use that camera.
I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to get it that way. The transcription provided by The Transcription People.
Hi. This is Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to another video post. Over the last week or two I’ve been doing something that’s a little bit out of the ordinary for me, but something that I used to do all the time. Those of you who know me and have been reading ProBlogger for a while who’ve read the book will know that I used to work in churches as a Minister and as part of being a Minister I was delivering Sermons every week or two to a few hundred people in a church. Whilst things are a little different now in that I’m speaking to a lot more and I’m writing using text rather than voice, there’s some similarities that I’ve noticed this week in preparing a Sermon, a one off Sermon, to the way that I write blog posts and so I thought I’d share some of the process that I go through in creating a Sermon which I think transfers fairly well over to writing a blog post or preparing a video post.
Selecting a Topic
The first thing that I noticed I was doing last week was just selecting a topic. Actually that was a bit easier for me with this Sermon that I was, I was preaching in the last day or two, because I was given the topic.
The Minister of the church that I go to said, “Darren I want you to speak about work and faith and how they intersect together”.
Selecting a topic can be one of the biggest problems for bloggers, just trying to work out what to write about on a day by day basis. I, what I do is have a folder on my desktop on my computer which just has lots of different text files which have, have titles or main points that I might write. Really what, what those text files are is just identifying big problems that my reads might have. So whether it be my blogging readers on ProBlogger, how to start a blog, how to get traffic, how to monetise a blog, the big sort of picture problems that people have.
On my photography blog it’s, it’s more about how to choose a camera, what lens you might want to add to that camera, how you might hold that camera, how to compose a picture. These are sort of big picture topics that I write about and I identify.
Refining the Topic – Break it Down into Smaller Problems
Then it’s about refining the topic and beginning to think about what you can say in it, and for me this is about breaking the topic down into smaller problems that people might have, and so in the Sermon that I was writing about this week which was on the topic of work and faith, I began to identify some of the key problems that people might have in that area, you know, when their, their work and the choices that they are, are making in their work, clash with their values for instance. Thinking about those sorts of issues within the larger topic, and the same thing’s true when I write a blog post. I try and break it down and identify, you know, maybe two or three or four problems that people have when it comes to that larger problem, larger topic, and what I find is that if you can identify two or three problems, small problems that a reader might have is that you then have your points that you can then work through in the post.
Identify What People Already Know
After that what I then try and do is actually try and work what does my reader already know. A lot of people skip this type of thing but I think it’s really important to acknowledge what your readers already know, because then you can build upon that. They may already know it because you’ve written about it previously and then you can link back to that so that you can build a little a, extra depth into your post, but then, then you can then identify what they don’t know.
Put the ‘Bones’ into Place – Your Main Points
Then what I do in the preparation of a Sermon is start to put the bones into place, I then look at it almost like a skeleton, I try and put some main points in place. It may not be very exciting points at this point, it may not be interesting yet, but they’re main points that I want to make through the preaching of that Sermon or the writing of that blog post. So as I’m writing a blog post I try and break it down into four or five points that I might to communicate over that post.
Flesh it Out – Add Interest and Depth
Once I’ve got that skeleton in place, once the bones are there, you then flesh out and this where it gets fun, this is where you can add illustrations, this is where you can add metaphors or analogies or you can tell a story, this is where you can use pictures so for me this is the part in the creation of a Sermon where I’m, I’m thinking about my PowerPoint and how I can make it visually interesting.
This is where I’m thinking about, you know, bring in Bible verses or quotes from people, this is where you’re fleshing it out, you’re adding muscle, you’re adding depth to your sermon or your blog post. For me as I write blog posts I’m looking at what other people are writing in this area and trying to add quotes, or I’m trying to find a famous person’s quote, or I’m trying to add a photo. This is where you’re trying to make it interesting. Quite often bloggers just communicate their main points but they don’t actually go to the trouble of making it intriguing, making it enjoyable for your readers to, to read.
Refine, Focus and Cull
Once you’ve started to add that depth, what I usually find, particularly when I’m preaching a Sermon is that I usually have too much stuff. Yesterday I preached the Sermon, I had 22 minutes to speak. Once I got the bones and then added flesh to it, I had 45 minutes worth of content, so this is where I began to practice it, I began to actually verbalise it and I began to refine and cull it. This is where I started to remove some of the things that I’d added to add interest because they were actually distracting from the main points and they were making it too long.
So as I’m writing a blog post quite often I do a similar thing. I start to add content to it and then I get to a point where I’m about to publish and then I, I read through it with quite critical mind and look for things that I can take out, things that might be distracting from the main point, things that might be making the post too long. You want to be useful with your posts but you don’t want to actually go over the top with it.
So then you’re at a point that you’re able to deliver it and hopefully if you’ve been practising it, if you’ve refined it you’re able to do that, you know, in a good way on your Sermon and hopefully as your blog post, you’ll have something that people not only can learn from but they also find interesting and intriguing to read. I hope that gives you a bit of insight into how I go about it. That’s the type of blog that I write, I write how to contents so that probably applies a little bit more to that type of content than some other types, but I’d be interested to hear about the processes that you go through in, in the creation of a blog.