Let’s face it – it can be a grind to think of topics when writing a blog, especially if you’re trying to post every week, or more frequently.
No question – you need a system.
When I started blogging I assumed ideas would pour from the heavens and my fingers would fly effortlessly across the keyboard pouring out publish-ready prose flocks of salivating followers would fall on.
Nah, didn’t happen.
As the reality of researching, writing, editing, image selection and publishing became clear my motivation started to slide.
Pretty soon, I started to miss my promised schedule of writing a blog post every week.
It took some time to realize that without a system blog writing was going to be painful. Later I learned the value of a system for that day when you want to outsource parts of the publishing process.It took some time to realize that without a system, blog writing was going to be painful. Click To Tweet
Finding the ideas
In “How to never run out of ideas ever again” I shared sources for blog ideas. I’ll add you should be looking for micro ideas – not big, scary, all encompassing ones.
For example, this post is just about a writing system. I could have also talked about researching, choosing the perfect topic, or how to use the WordPress editor. But, that’s too much width for a quick-to-read blog post.
When you tackle a micro topic it’s easier to complete the post and, I think, it’s easier for the reader to quickly get value they can turn into action (without getting overwhelmed with advice).
Finding the time
The best way to find time for writing a blog is to not have to “find it” in the first place. I recommend having one block of time for writing. For me, it’s the first thing I do every morning. For you, it might be 8:30-10:00, 3 days a week – whatever it is make it a routine.The best way to find time for writing is to not have to “find it” in the first place. Click To Tweet
At first, you might want to post this time on your calendar for a month to help you develop the routine. You might also need a reward for your efforts, like crossing the task off a list, or marking your calendar with minutes spent writing every day.
The less you have to work at finding the time, the more likely it is the work will get done.
Sitting down and writing a blog
I need to have a clear desk, a full cup of tea and a quiet room to write. I can edit on a moving train full of goats, but writing requires complete concentration and no distractions (or goats).
Commit to a block of time. If you are writing at 8:30 in the morning, you might want to work for 90 minutes with quick breaks every 30 minutes – but commit to the time. That means Facebook and email are closed, papers are cleared away and your phone is put away or on airplane mode.
Whatever works best for you, create that situation every time.
Use a template
I can hear it now “But, I’m an artist and artists never use paint-by-number formulas.”
Okay, but you do need to create a logical argument and you mostly likely are leading from problem to solution, so it only makes sense you follow a proven path to get there.
My template for writing a blog (hundreds of public speakers use this template) is very simple. I follow it for every post (like this one) and the reader never complains.
Like most books that follow a template for every chapter, we’re too busy enjoying the content to care much about the structure.
Your first draft will not be great – expect it. Anne Lamott famously calls it your “Shitty first draft” and for good reason.
When I’m writing an 800-1,000 word blog post, I like to crank out a first draft in about a hour. After that I let it simmer while I go for a run, do some other work, or read – but I don’t think about it.
When I sit down to finish the post, it’s amazing how obvious all the problems are. The run on sentence or weak arguments jump off the page and are much easier to fix.
Plan on two sittings and it takes the pressure off and allows you to write more freely for that essential first draft.
At some point you need to admit this is only a blog – not a novel – and, as Seth Godin says, ship it.
More time fussing over semi-colons won’t get you more readers or more social shares, it just burns up more time.
Your goals should be to help the reader reach their goal faster and better than they could on their own.
Once you’ve done that, your job is done.
Now, get writing.