Since I learned how to write, I’ve had a journal. When the Internet came around, my pen and paper moved to the digital medium. One fact remained constant, I’m terrible with consistency. Over the past decade, I’ve had livejournal accounts, lots of blogs, fansites and they’ve all fallen into the pit of “never updated” or “yearly updates only”. With that history, I’ve been pretty good with xiaoEats over the past two years.
I’m often asked, how do I stay motivated with posting and the truth is, it’s still fun. Regardless of the blog, I would still eat, and still take pictures of my food. With the blog, I get to share awesome food with others and hopefully help them find new food experiences, the same reason I read blogs. While my motivation for blogging hasn’t waned, there are blogger problems that I struggle with.
Blogger Problems I struggle with (and how I try to overcome them):
Problem: Content, content, content – Some weeks, I’m overwhelmed with reviews backed up from months ago, other weeks I’m looking for any excuse to eat out. My preference is a middle ground, having enough content (5-8 reviews) for the next 3-4 weeks, during which I find build a steady queue. After food events or a vacation though, I always find myself backlogged.
- I like to pace out my backlog, I draft the posts and then schedule them to be published when my local content is low. A content manager (ie. a simple Excel sheet or To Do List) works wonders.
- Other sources of content. One of the main reasons I started “Xiao Cooks” was to broaden my content scope, along with this oft neglected blog section and my Best Eats lists.
Problem: Keeping it fresh – Speaking of backlogs, one of my biggest challenges is keeping my memory of a dining experience fresh in my goldfish brain.
- Taking copious notes during the meal or immediately after. I find voice notes on my phone super helpful and always carry a thin notebook with an attached pen.
- If notes would ruin the atmosphere of a meal (ie. scribbling in the middle of a romantic date), I rely on the better memories of family and friends.
Problem: Writing style – My passion is creative writing, fiction, which I haven’t had the time to practice over the past two years. Blogging is a whole different style of writing, more journal writing and exposition than narrative. Restaurant reviews especially can be a dry read. I’m trying to convey facts to my readers, while being concise and descriptive at the same time. I don’t want to just state my opinion, I want to show my readers why I have that opinion and what drove it. When it comes to service, if nothing’s out of the ordinary, I struggle with using the same stale sentences and descriptors. There’s also the matter of effort. Honestly, at times I’ll spent hours writing and editing a review, other times I’m just trying to churn out a post.
- Reading professional food critics, reading recipes, watching food TV and learning from all of these sources how to describe food. I’m always learning.
- Writing a draft, leaving it and then coming back to edit. Like any piece of writing, I can spend hours changing and re-writing a single sentence. The most efficient method of writing for me is not to dwell on one line, get all the words out and then come back to the post with fresh eyes. Sometimes I’ll remember an additional detail, or have thought of a better metaphor, all improvements that come with time for the post to stew.
- Always edit/re-read a post. It should be before the post is published, but even after, I try to re-read my writing to catch grammar mistakes or awkward sentences. I often rope The Fiance or friends into the editor role.