Here's a question: why is it that writing a blog post can seem like a task of epic proportions? Why does it always get pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do?
I’m going to make a bit of a guess here: for those of you that blog for your business, you probably do it at home in the evening, after you've already done your hard yards for the day and you're dog tired. You do it at night because there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. And when you're looking at a to-do list that scares the bejeesus out of you, blogging often takes a back seat.
I’ve been a writer for many years. It's what I wanted to do since I was little. It’s my thing, and I love it. But, here’s an admission – I don’t find it easy. It doesn’t always flow easily and I often put it off. Life gets in the way, my head isn’t in the right space, I’ve got too much to do, blah blah de blah. You know the drill, right?
The point is, I've got years of writing for magazines and websites under my belt, and I still find it hard, so I'm pretty sure other people do as well. The good thing is, there's plenty of things you can do to fight through the head mud and smash out articles when you need to. Here’s my tried and testing tips on getting rockstar about writing.
1. Make sure you’re stocked up with a heap of ideas
Don’t sit down to write your blog wondering what you’re going to write about. Do your brainstorming separately, and keep all your ideas on one document. Add to it whenever you remember, but try and set time aside every couple of weeks to slam dunk every single idea that’s in your head onto that document, where it will remain until you decide it’s the right time to use it. Don’t have an idea planner? Download my Blog Ideas Planner here.
2. Set yourself a deadline
Set a timer on your phone for an hour, or 30 minutes – whatever you’ve got spare. But here’s the rules: no looking at your email, phone or social media. And no talking to anyone. Writing is similar to running – the first 10 minutes can feel difficult, awkward, and can hurt like hell. But if you push past the first bit, you find ‘the zone’ – that happy place where it’s all a bit more rhythmic and free flowing. If you stop – you’re thrown out of ‘the zone’ and you need to start all over again. So, to make use of your very precious time, get your head in the game early, and keep it there.
3. Write a quick plan first
Start with your subheadings – make a quick outline of what you think you need to say. It gives you a rough direction of where to start, and all of the points you want to cover off. The other good thing about doing this is you’ll quickly see if your blog post has got no meat in it, or help you to see if it’s not quite right for this point in time. Sometimes, the overall idea of a post sounds great, but once you flesh it out, it’s not as interesting or relevant as you first thought, and you've wasted a whole lot of time writing something you can't use.
4. get stuck in
Everyone has a different approach to writing, but this is what works for me when I need to get it done quickly. Just limber your fingers up, and get typing. Let go of any expectation of it sounding good, and instead focus on letting your thoughts run freely. Don’t stop and correct your spelling, terminology (unless you won’t be able to decipher it later). Get everything out, from start to finish. Even if you know that a lot of it is fluffy crap – concentrate on getting the essence of your ideas across. Then, you've got something to work with instead of an overwhelmingly white page.
Now, it's time to go back and edit, edit, edit. This is one of the most important parts of writing – and it’s the part of the process that can transform a completely hideous piece of writing into a beautiful, flowing, work of art. Take your time with it – read it back, cut out anything that is not necessary to your point, and get rid of anything that is repetitious. Be harsh. It’s good to remember that nobody has read your first draft, so they won’t miss that awesome but slightly off-point paragraph you’ve written. Save it for another time.
6. Then leave it alone
Try and plan your writing so you don’t have to post what you write on the same day. Let it fester overnight and come back to it the next day with a fresh pair of eyes for a final edit and tidy up. Or at the very least, go for a walk or get a change of scenery. You’ll be amazed how much easier you can finish the job when you’re fully refreshed. Which leads me nicely onto my final point...
7. Don't write when you’re really tired ... zzzzz
You will not enjoy it. Nothing you write will sound great. You'll have conversations with yourself about how incoherent and illiterate you are. Look, this comes down to how you function as a person. Do you have energy in the morning or the evening? There’s no point sitting with your laptop in front of you late into the evening because you feel you ‘should’ be blogging. Better to get some rest and charge into it when your head is full of ideas, and you’ve got your zip and zing about you. For most of us, that's the morning. Plus, you'll totally get some old-school writer vibes getting up with your lappy at 6am.