What’s in your barrel?

Feb 8, 2022 | Better Blogging

My father was a Lutheran pastor and his “barrel” was the collection of sermons he’d already preached. He pulled things out of the barrel to make its new sermons better. If you’re a blogger, you’ve got posts in your barrel. Your challenge is to use them to make your new posts better.

This isn’t re-posting. It isn’t copying and improving, either. It’s coming up with a new post fortified by the work you’ve done before. Start by thinking about your new post.

What’s your current challenge?

Every post is a unique challenge. Who is going to read your post? This is not a demographic description. Your reader is a real person with a social security number and some bad habits. Identify a real person that you can write to.

What do you want to say? What do you want that person to think, feel, or do when they finish reading?

Once you know what your current challenges are, you’re ready to go to the barrel. Find things you’ve already written and review them. Sometimes you’ll have some stray bits of research in your barrel. Perhaps one of them is perfect for this writing challenge.

Review what you’ve got

Everything you’ve already written is like a miniature time capsule. As you seek things you may want to use again, check to see if they are dated. Did you reference a historical event that’s not fresh any longer? Did you use language that was fresh when you wrote it, but is now past its expiration date?

Once you’ve found good old material, combine it with good new material and insights. Then write your new post.

Write your new post

Yes, I said, “write.” You will be tempted to cobble together a bunch of things you’ve already written. You will be tempted to take an old post, add a bit to it, and call it a day. Forswear those temptations.

When you write the post, you get the best of both worlds. You get the benefit of all the thinking you’ve done for this post and prior posts. And you get your fresh perspective.

That’s the challenge. Use what you’ve done before to make your new post better.


Your barrel is the posts you’ve already done.

Your challenge is to use the posts in your barrel to make your new post better.

What do you want your reader to think, feel, or do when they finish reading?

Review what you’re already done.

Combine the best of your old work with new research and insight.

Write the new post from scratch.

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