I’ve written about this in my article about writing a serialised/episodic story but I thought that this was a good time to talk about the importance of creating a buffer of stories, chapters, articles and/or comics before or shortly after you start putting anything on the internet.
Quite a few people do this and it’s a matter of preference, but if you’re starting your first blog, webcomic, episodic story etc… then it can be useful to keep an article/comic/chapter buffer, especially if you are uploading things on a regular basis too.
There are many ways to make a buffer – such as just making ten episodes of a webcomic before you upload the first one or producing two things per day but only uploading one. Or producing one thing every day, but only uploading something every two days etc… The only limits are time and your imagination.
It’s up to you how large the buffer is and its size can obviously also depend on what you’re working on too. For example, things which are quick to produce tend to lend themselves well to producing a large buffer of unpublished work (for example: the buffer for my daily “How To Draw” series currently stretches up to early August). But even for things that take longer to produce, it can be a good idea to create a buffer which lasts for at least the next one or two uploads (whether they’re daily or weekly or whatever).
The most obvious reason for creating a buffer is because it can come in handy if you’re busy or if you have writer’s block on a particular day and need to buy some time to think of new ideas or create more content.
Likewise, having a buffer takes some of the stress out of creating things – since there is a delay between producing things and uploading them, so you don’t have to rush as much.
Once you’ve got a buffer, it’s fairly simple to keep it going – just upload the oldest thing in your buffer after adding whatever you’ve produced today or this week to the buffer. If, for any reason, your buffer runs out – then just keep producing things on schedule until you have time to build a new one. Just because your buffer has run out once doesn’t mean that you can’t create a new one.
If you’re using WordPress – then take full advantage of the “publish”/”schedule” feature (on the right hand side of the ‘add new post’ screen) to build up a buffer of pre-written posts which are automatically published at a time of your choosing. This is especially useful if you plan to release something at the same time every day too (for example, new “How To Draw” posts are uploaded daily at 14:30 GMT and new chapters of “Liminal Rites” are uploaded at 22:30 GMT every day), since it’s practically impossible to time your posts perfectly if you upload them immediately.
However, some sites either don’t have a schedule feature or restrict it to certain types of memberships – so, for these sites, it’s still good to keep a buffer but you’ll have to upload it manually. Likewise, always keep a backup copy of your buffer somewhere safe too.
Another good reason for keeping a buffer is a slightly more egotistical one – namely that you get to see what will happen in your story or webcomic a few days before everyone else does. Seriously, don’t underestimate this as a reason for keeping a buffer.
As I said earlier, creating a buffer is a matter of personal preference and it’s perfectly ok to use buffers for one type of creative work and not use them for another (eg: for some reason, I rarely seem to use buffers for comics) but they can be fairly useful nonetheless.