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What I learned from liveblogging

I’ve already mentioned it so many times here that I had the privilege of being a liveblogger for TEDxDelft, but in this post I would like to focus on liveblogging itself. Two times I have liveblogged as of now, both at TEDxDelft (2011 and 2012), and I certainly have some take-home lessons that I would like to share with you.

First of all, I think liveblogging is unlike anything else. Writing at the brink of the moment not only causes incredible focus in me (I am going to tap into that zone for my thesis), it also helps me to think fast and build sentences in a snap.

Just like last year, I managed to write 4 entries for the website over the course of the day, and I did some tweeting along the way. But this year, I had a better plan, and I’d like to share that with you:

1. Preparation is key

Unlike last year, when I showed up, opened my laptop and gave it my best shot, we had a plan this year (thanks to our webcare team leader @marionvanputten). I knew exactly which performers I’d be writing about, and I had done my homework and researched them before the event. Although I still had to look up some things while writing the posts, I did feel much better prepared, and with more background knowledge.

2. You can’t cover everything

Last year, I tried to listen to all talks, read all tweets, hear, see and follow everything around me – and in the afternoon I was completely overloaded and with writer’s block. This year, I knew which performers to cover, and made these my priority

3. Stop and pause

In between writing about the performers I was supposed to cover, I took a moment to let my mind wander, stretch my legs, make a phone call and refuel. This year I did not experience any writer’s block at all.

4. The zone

To deliver the best liveblog posts on “my” performers, I went into the creativity zone from the moment the performer stepped on the stage to the moment I hit the “publish” button in WordPress. I followed every step, expression, word and emotion of the performer, made notes and started writing after the performance. At the moment that I started writing, I chose to block out all external noise and blast some loud music in my ears (Dark Tranquillity in the morning, random futurepop in the afternoon) – such that I could be away from the world and get going with writing. I managed to experience some incredible focus by doing so.

5. Don’t forget to eat and drink

My take-home message for next time: don’t forget to drink! I certainly didn’t drink enough water during the event, so I woke up with a headache the next day. A mistake not to be made again!

6. Sit straight

Another take-home message: I should keep my toes warm and sit straight. After a day of hanging in a chair hunched over my laptop, I felt like an old lady with a broken back the next day. My feet got cold and rained out in the morning, and sitting still made all joints from the hip to the toes hurt. The same sometimes happens when I work from home…

Here’s the catch: I came to realize many of these observations count for thesis-writing as well. The time pressure and the “now” might not feel that urgent while you write a chapter, but try to tap into that creativity zone, and I’m sure the words will start to fly onto the screen.

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