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13 Ways I Get Back into Blogging after a Vacation

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of November 2009 Writing Content 0 Comments

Yesterday was my first day back at blogging after a 10 day vacation with my family and on Twitter I commented that I was finding it a little hard to get my brain back into blogging mode. @Mikeachim responded by suggesting I write a post on the daily rituals that I use to get my mind into gear.

I thought I’d take his suggestion and jot down a few notes – both as a way of getting my head back into blogging but also because looking at the tweets I received this morning it’s a problem many bloggers face.

As my head is a little scattered today (as I readjust) I’m going to tackle this as a list post – here’s a few thoughts:

1. Coffee

2 lattes with a sugar in each is a fairly essential part of my blogging routine.

2. Cafes

More important than the fact that I get caffeine into my bloodstream each morning is the fact that I do it in one of 2-3 local cafes each day. I find getting out of the house (I usually walk to them so get a 10 minute walk in too) helps me to snap myself out of ‘home mode’ and into ‘working/blogging mode’. I also find that blogging in public is stimulating too – sitting in the middle of a cafe is noisy and some might find it distracting but for me I find it actually helps me generate ideas and takes me into a slightly more social space than sitting alone at home in my front room.

3. Planning

I’m a fairly impulsive guy and like to go with inspiration when it hits – but I also find it helpful to spend time thinking ahead and planning posts in advance so that I have some places to start when I have a tough day where inspiration is not coming. On my laptop’s desktop I have a number of text files which are full of topic ideas, titles of posts and even half written ideas that I pull out when I’m stuck for ideas.

4. Series of Posts

Similarly I like to have a series of posts on the go at any time so that I can always write a post that adds to something I’ve written previously. For example I’m currently working on a series of posts on Principles of Successful Blogging which I add to 1-2 times a week and will keep running over a number of months.

5. Twitter

This post is an illustration of the power of having a network of people to help you generate ideas. I didn’t ask for ideas for posts but out of a conversation I was having on Twitter someone made a suggestion that helped generate an idea for a post. While Twitter can be a distraction – it can also be an idea goldmine if you use it well.

6. Face to Face

I won’t do this today as I’m manically trying to catch up on email as well as write new posts – but I do try to schedule in face time with other bloggers, twitterers and entrepreneurs ever week or two. This is partly just because I’m an introvert and could quite easily work alone for weeks on end (and need to force myself into some social interaction) but it’s also about putting yourself into places where your ideas connect with other people’s ideas – that’s often where the magic happens.

7. Capture Ideas

Another strategy that I use is to capture as many ideas as I come AS they come into my brain. I returned home from my vacation with a notes documents on my iphone that has 6-7 post ideas that came to me over the last 10 days. Some I may never use but there are a couple that will be great posts that I’d have forgotten if I didn’t immediately capture them in some way. I used to carry a notebook for this but my iPhone now does the job.

8. Exercise

I mention that I walk to the main cafe that I work out of – in addition to that I try to walk each day for at least 15 minutes. I find that this gets the blood pumping and often gives me a burst of energy to help me through the afternoons.

9. ProBlogger.com

This might seem like pure self promotion but I’ve found the ProBlogger community to be a goldmine of ideas and inspiration. I’m increasingly finding that I come away from the forums having seen what someone else is trying with inspiration to see how their approach will work on my blogs. Whether it’s the ProBlogger forums or another one – I think putting time aside to interact with and collaborate with other bloggers is something well worth doing.

10. Mind Mapping

I’ve outlined how I do this previously in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook but using mind mapping is something I do on a weekly basis to come up with post ideas.

11. Manage Distractions

I read many articles on this type of topic that tell you to eliminate distractions. They say to get offline completely, don’t check your email, turn off Twitter etc. I’ve written about doing this previously but am starting to wonder if completely eliminating these ‘distractions’ is always a good thing. For me it’s more about ‘managing’ the distractions and setting aside time to do them rather than just ending up with a confused jumble of tasks. Instead of flipping between writing a post, email, twitter and Facebook – give yourself set times for each task. For example – in the writing of this post I’ve stopped 2 times when I’ve begun to feel my energy for the post decreasing a little. The first time I jumped on Twitter for 5 minutes, the 2nd time I cleared a few emails. Each time I gave myself 5 minutes for the other thing and was disciplined about jumping back into writing for another 10-15 minutes. Perhaps this is just my impulsive nature Attention Deficit Disorder but sometimes I find eliminating distractions can actually make it harder to work as you’re wondering about the things you’re trying to ignore.

12. Play

Related to the idea of managing distractions I recently have been rediscovering the power of letting myself ‘play’ a little each day. While many productivity experts talk about eliminating ‘playful’ activity I think it’s actually important to spend time each day doing activity that is a little mindless and fun. I can’t explain why – but often after a 10 minute burst of playing a tower defense game on my iPhone or reading a post but funny article on a humor blog I often come back to my ‘work’ feeling a little fresh and with good ideas for my blog. There’s something powerful about letting your brain relax every now and again – the key is to manage it and not let your whole day become one big playful experience.

13. Golden Hours are…. Gold!

My ‘golden hours’ are 9-11am. This is when I do my best creative work and as a result it’s when I do most of my writing. Admin tasks, Emails and other tasks can usually wait a couple of hours until I’ve cranked out a post or two!

A lot more could be said on this topic. In fact I asked my Twitter followers how they get their brains into gear after a holiday and they came up with some great suggestions too. You can read them here.

What would you add?

How do you get your brain into ‘blogging mode’ after some time away from blogging (or first thing in the morning)?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. It has to be planning for me. The week and day before I plan out exactly what I want to achieve each day.

    Then as soon as I start…I’m off.

    Plus beforehand breakfast and a nice walk to the local coffee shop…works wonders.


  2. I jsut got back from a long bloging vacation and i found the best ways to get back into it is twitter and the other best wa y is mind maping for me. Also reading lots of other blogs and visting digg to see what stories are popular.

  3. I’ve given myself a break from blogging. Now it’s stretched into days. You’re so right about how difficult it is to get back your brain into gear again. It’s exasperating. I’d run down your list of suggestions to find out what works best for me. Thanks!

  4. I also find that mornings are my most productive and try to get my most important tasks out of the way. I have yet to conquer my distractions though I tend to get a little too distracted by email and twitter.

  5. Some very useful suggestions there. It’s not always easy to get your brain into blogging mode anyway, no matter how much you enjoy the actual blogging! I very much agree about planning and how it can help on days when you aren’t so inspired. I keep a notebook on my desk (and in my bag) where I jot down ideas for my blog as and when they come to me – I’ve now got a list long enough to keep me going for a while if necessary.

    And yes, coffee! Absolutely essential…

  6. Nice tips. But I would have #1 coffee a few more times thru out the list..lol

  7. My biggest problem right now is that we just moved, so I haven’t quite settled in yet. I’ve got the computer set up, but every time I sit down, it doesn’t feel like a space to work in (or something).

  8. I don’t really have a ritual but having read this post I think I should. Often my mind wanders and I end up getting little don. Creativity is something which I guess you have to nurture by giving it a nice warm place to come out.

    I like your idea about going to cafés. I too could easily stay locked away typing but it’s good to get out to get the juices flowing once in a while!
    Art of Stinginess

  9. Darren,

    These are all good points.

    There are two that really hit home: 1) play 2) golden hour.

    I’ve found some of my best ideas when I wasn’t thinking.

    When it comes to 9-12 those are my best writing times. When I write in the afternoon, it’s just not as easy.

    One more thing I would add is TV. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but there are shows I watch to find out some of the lastest big topics people are talking about and in many cases, I’ll find a way of blogging about that and it brings me quite a lot of great comments and new readers to my blog.

    Good to hear you are back from vacation and I look forward to reading your new series!


  10. About blogging in public! I must get a laptop soon because I think it would do me some good to get away from my home office and blog in another location.

    Maybe I can pick up some extra ideas that way and not feel that my days look the same all the time.

  11. I completely agree with you about short fun breaks. It’s why I deliberately follow some fun people on Twitter. I can usually count on them to tweet something interesting about the time my brain starts flagging. Obviously, I don’t shut down the distractions while blogging either.

  12. This could be useful to remember after Christmas! Although I do suspect that I still wont have any time off thinking of topics and jotting.

  13. Well i did have a lot of vacations in the past 6 months, but i actually found ways to put up a post on my vacation and i’m always willing to come back and blog again. This is due to my serious addiction to blogging these days.


  14. I agree with your Golden hours! My morning time (8am – 11am) and I’ve learned to protect them for my work. Meetings and work which needs less focus can wait.

  15. Hem… i had face this situation before. What i do to overcome it, call my determination again. I push my self to write a post, and the post usually flow after that.

  16. Good post. Thanks for the tips.

    Just like any job, its hard to get back into things after a vacation. The strategy I use is that I typically give myself a few hard deadlines on the day I am back. This gets me into the flow and gets me going.

  17. I like the distraction of twitter and find it helpful too, the other tips are great thanks for the list. Going to try blogging in a public place think it will inspire me thanks.

  18. I love the 10 minute walk to the coffee shop.

    The nearest coffee shop to for me is a 15 minute drive. While I rarely go to a coffee shop just for work, I do spend a lot of time at coffee shops when I’m in town and need to get some work done between meetings. I agree – that it is helpful. Strangely, it helps me focus.

  19. Number 11 nails it! I am easily distracted when I’m thinking of other things I could or should be doing instead of generating quality content. Bogged down by that kind of distraction can keep me from accomplishing anything. I found it very helpful to schedule in times for “distracting” activity.

  20. Hey Darren,

    Noise around you while you’re working can act as white noise, letting you focus.

    Like you, I work best with noise around. A cafe or other social place makes me easily focus on what I’m doing. It seems like white noise: when there’s such a consistent level of talking, music, clanking, movement, and so forth, it fades into the background and my mind focuses on the task at hand.

    When I’m in a peaceful, serene environment, my mind begins to wander – if I’m not distracted and start enjoying the moment, Power of Now-style ;)

    Tim Ferriss also writes with a constant visual noise – he mentioned how when he writes in his house at night, he puts a movie on mute on his big screen so that he feels he’s in a social surrounding.

    Here’s to working in a potentially-distracting, noisy environment – and getting more easily focused as a result,

  21. Sofie says: 11/18/2009 at 4:10 am

    Hi Darren,

    I have that problem too. Sometimes I go on a month vacation and I do not blog at all. It has been my rule not to blog when on vacation. So when I get back, I still have the hangover.

    But I’m slowly changing some things and I am trying to prioritize things now. In one of my blogs, I’m planning now what I have to write if ever I’m going on vacation (scheduling post) and I already have the topics on the next few days after I get back from vacation. It’s my way of doing things to get me back to blogging.

  22. I think planning is the number one thing to do. It is always hard to get back into anything after a vacation but if you plan it out in your head it shouldn’t be a problem. That is what I have to do after a vacation anyways.

  23. It’s really good to have a proper planning and better implementation on your plans.Also don’t forget to have a coffee on your side =p

  24. Printing this one out for my notebook…in case I ever actually go on vacation. We haven’t done vacations the last few years because of funds, but I do give myself breaks from homeschooling. Maybe I should give myself an intentional vacation from blogging once in a while, too!

    Maybe you could give us some tips on that? I mean, besides turning the computer off and walking away :)

  25. I am still finding my feet in the ‘world of blogging’ and finding what works for me. Like you Darren I could spend hours, if not days in my own company and hadn’t thought of taking my blogging mobile!

    I am looking forward to taking blogging social, it’ll be a new experience, thanks Darren.

    Out of interest I’d be keen to know how many hours you work on your blog each day….

  26. One of the most useful posts I’ve read in a while. I usually get bakc into the mode by reading something on my subject area, the ideas just spring from that.

  27. I blog like crazy. Maybe am an addict. I would never even think of vacationing without posting a post once a day at least. If I was at your level then things might have been different.

  28. Man is this timely for me! I’ve just come back from a 2 and a half week holiday to Hawaii where plenty of fun, adventure, catching up with friends (it was for a wedding) and way to many Mai Tais were had! I’ll admit, coming back to blogging has been a bit of a challenge but I’m starting to get my head back into it.

    One thing that helps me is to give myself a couple of days of pure catch up – emails, paperwork, small tasks, commenting, etc. I leave writing until I’ve tackled those things because I find I don’t write well when I’m under pressure. Clearing these first helps take the pressure off so I’m in a more creative space to write.

  29. Ah yes the Golden Hours. They can definitely make or break a day. Welcome back! :)

  30. Great tips here! I have had trouble recovering from a vacation or a blogging hiatus in the past. I will definitely refer to these tips if that every happens again.

  31. I think #14 would have to be what you did here with this post – just sit down and write something, even if it’s a post telling your readers that you just got back from vacation and are having trouble getting back into blogging mode ;)

  32. Interesting suggestions…they could almost be “how to get productive at any job after holiday” not just blogging. The old time management trick of making a to-do list and then prioritizing the list is the best tool I have for regaining focus. Once I am no longer trying to eat the entire elephant at once (no longer trying to tackle every project or perceived crisis at once) I can channel my energy into those items that need to get done.

  33. Hehe I find it funny that the first two are so related to caffeine!
    Have you ever tried green tea?

    For me, getting back to posting is about finding motivation, because my blog is too new to be known yet.
    For you, I can’t even imagine the nightmares of catching up with the hundreds, thousands of emails after ten days of vacation!

    You’re doing an impressive job here!

    Best wishes,

  34. LOVE this post and how helpful these ideas are!

    I avail myself of the voice recorder on my iPhone to capture ideas as they come, no matter how silly-sounding they may seem at the time. As I revisit these ideas, my brain will often go into blogging mode and turn a snippet of idea into a full-blown post.

  35. Well, some of us have duties… I am on university, having a series of tough exams lately, one more left, I really don’t know how to get back to all this money making, internet marketing, blogging thing.

    It’s 2 much brain-shifting in a short period of time…

  36. I definitely use the “white noise” theory while I’m working. When it’s too quite, I can’t get in the “writing zone”. I need the perfect balance of distraction with quiet because I think I have a serious focusing issue…

  37. Last year I went on vacation and I simply took my laptop with me and blogged while I was in the hotel.

  38. I didn’t take a vacation…but it was to give my hand a rest. I also noticed that it was hard to get myself together. But what I also noticed time spent from social media, reading stuff other than blogging and SEO gave me great new ideas!!

    But I found one thing that also helps me is prayer. Communing with God helps me in more ways than I could imagine.

  39. Lots of good ideas! I often find that I work better in a noisy environment like a cafe rather than pure silence. Pure silence is creepy…

    Another thing that I do when I’m finding it hard to write is read. Especially the newspaper. While not directly related to what I blog about, making my way through the newspaper has often broken my writers/bloggers block.

  40. @Marshal Finch What a great idea to Digg and Stumble for ideas.

    @maria, the only problem with ‘Golden Hours’ is if you miss that 9-11am time slot you might use it as an excuse not to blog.

    @Dean, I tried taking my laptop to Hawaii with my man, intending to Blog.
    He said “it’s me or the laptop” – Which one do you think I chose???

  41. Yes very good, post. I am getting a bit tired the promotion of your community if you are looking for feedback on this. Yet is worth, profitable and useful to subscribe and read your posts. I have my creativity hours and yes they are gold, and they pay off. The thing is I never realized. I do wake up at 3 AM on a regular basis, for an Year now to, because I know I work better at this time of the day.

  42. Usually after vacations, there is lots of new ideas to blogging. Thanks for posting.

  43. Working in cafes is fun. It gets me away from the distractions of the house like laundry, meals and the contents of my fridge:)

    Nice to see that you can nip in and out of activities a bit and still get things done. I suppose the key is to limit playtime to 10 minutes and not let an hour lapse at a funny website.

  44. I take my laptop with me on vacation and blog almost daily. It works in well with the routine that I have when I visit my family. If you were touring Europe, it wouldn’t work because you’d be too busy.

    I blog for baby boomer consumers. So on Twitter, I only follow people who could give me ideas about boomers or consumers. Darren is an exception.

    Also, boomers like to travel, so I write about places I visit when I’m on vacation. These outings also provide good photo opportunities for including photos with a post.

    I keep a Blog Ideas 2009 file on my desktop and drag items into it that might make good posts.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  45. Great post Darren, thank you and good to have you back. I need coffee, gallons and gallons of it or I won’t get through the day, which in turn keeps me up late enough for my golden hours midnight-five a.m. Years of dabbling in creative writing meant waiting for the day to end so I could pen it all down late at night (still don’t know if I made it into a habit or I’m naturally a night person) As for the proverbial notebook.. Right here, everywhere :) Planning and having a to-do list helps me focus but I’m not averse to turning to something totally different in between to get the juices flowing.

  46. Thank you, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Whilst I haven’t been on holiday, I have been too busy in life to write anything too informative the past few days. I’ve mostly been doing chatty updates. But at the back of my head, has been that voice: ‘must blog SOON!’

  47. Good point about the golden hours. Knowing when you are most productive and ensure that’s when you get your top priority work done during that time is so critical to being time efficient.

  48. The best way in the world to get back into blogging or even doing what it is you do if you’ve been away for a little while, is to just do it.

    A lot of times we’ll get all stressed out about doing it, then do something to keep from doing it, but you just gotta jump in and get crankin’ out content. The thing that I find helps best is to read other blogs and get inspired.

    There’s so many great blogs and great people out there who really post killer stuff and if you just jump into it, learn from others, and get inspired from other’s content, you’re back in the game.

  49. Following with great interest. Thanks!

  50. Darren,

    Thanks for the good post. I too find myself scattered throughout the day, and have to make time for things. There are people who say writing in solitude is the best for them, but like you, I too like a cafe like Starbucks. The little distractions sometimes add that quick break your mind and eyes need and then you get back to work.

    Along the line of distractions, I love music and couldn’t live without it. But when writing, even listening to classical music is a distraction, so I have to turn my Ipod off.

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