It’s said that experience is the best teacher. Today, I can vouch for the truth of that statement. And in the spirit of another great saying, “Learn from the mistakes of others,” let me take my recent experience and apply it more broadly.

About a month ago, I launched this blog. Before I did so, I created a story list — a group of articles-slash-blogposts, with titles and topics. The still-good idea was that I would write a number of posts ahead of time, on subjects that were timely but had a shelf life longer than the average 24-minute news cycle. With that set of arrows in my quiver, I could shoot out relevant blogposts even on those days when my schedule was too full to write something completely new.

This is a very smart thing to do. Many of my most successful friends and fellow bloggers have postings that are written up to a month in advance. Some of these are future-dated, so they automatically get published on their blogs at set dates; others are simply saved as drafts and pulled down when needed.

But, back to my story… While creating my own story list, I also knew that sometimes you need to strike while the iron is hot. I’d been thinking about this legal/business writing blog for quite some time — I mean, after 15 years in this line of work, I must have something worth saying, right?! — but with the then-fast-approaching launch of LIFTOFF LAW, I knew I needed to act even if I wasn’t fully prepared with my pre-written articles. At the same time, I was also very busy with some time-sensitive and fun client work. My plate was, as they say, rather full.

Then, last week, I was slammed by a cold in flu’s clothing. Yes, this was 100% cold (sniffles, sore throat, congestion), but it hit me with the force of a severe flu. Bottom line, I was down for the count for more than a week — without my article archive.

The result? A big, huge, week-long gap in my blog.

Of course, that’s not the end of the world. This is a new blog, readership is building, and it’s always difficult to find the right balance in the short term — it’s much easier to look back over, say, the past year, and to say, “Yeah, I may not have gotten the balance right during any given day or week, but over the course of time I accomplished quite a bit.”

But how much better if I’d had a few things stored in the old file vault, that I could have pulled out, shined up, and put out there for everyone’s edification.

This idea of having a pre-publication article archive doesn’t just apply to blogs. Imagine if your legal or professional services firm took the time — right now — to create an article archive. There are any number of critical legal, business and legislative issues that are being debated right now, and around which important action will be happening quite soon. When new development arise, will you and your team be prepared with media-ready stories?

Here’s an example: This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a Chicago gun-control law. It will likely be several months before the Court issues its decision in the matter — when it does, the ruling will certainly be explosive (pun mostly intended). Rather than waiting until the decision is announced to draft an article on the subject — especially if this is an area in which you work or that may affect your clients — now is the time to write a media-ready piece. Get it ready, put it in your files — and when the announcement is made, all you’ll need to do is a quick update and polish, and bam! (more punning): it’s ready to go.

The same principle can apply to newsletters, speeches, client alerts, etc., etc., etc. Do as I say, not as I did: build your pre-publication article archive now, and you’ll soon be ready for anything.

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