I tossed around some strategies with Easton Ellsworth of Business Blogwire about how to write blog posts more quickly, without compromising on quality. Our discussion sparked some further ideas for me, and inspired this post. Thanks Easton.
What’s the Hurry?
Some posts take a while to gel, and you want to take as much time as you need, especially if it is a key article. Interestingly, bloggers often observe that posts they’ve dashed off quickly are the ones which provoke comment and interest. There is room for both, but given time constraints, it can be helpful to have some “faster posting” strategies.
Set Your Own Deadline
As a freelance writer, you are used to working to deadlines. Set an arbitrary deadline of your own for your post. You don’t have to adhere to it, but it gives you an idea of how long you take for your average post.
Dump Your Ideas While They’re Fresh
Easton suggests “dumping your ideas”. Note down any ideas as roughly as you like in a draft post to be published when you’ve had time to flesh it out. It may be just a phrase, a heading or a paragraph. Unless it is a current topic which is time sensitive, give yourself time to mull it over. You may get back to this the next day or months down the track. Add more as you go, or just leave it as a memory jogger.
For new bloggers, in WordPress, just press the “Save and Continue Editing” button in the WordPress text editor. If you can have a few posts “in the works”, it takes the pressure off having to think of something and “deliver” every day…. a recipe for burnout and the onset of the dreaded writer’s block, for many writers.
Of course, there’s also the trusty writer’s notebook or online notepad. I loved the idea of the innovative pen with paper inside, if your muse strikes while you’re out and about. When I do travel writing and am far from home, I like to email myself with my impressions while they are fresh, or cc emails I send friends and family to myself. These make a useful reference along with other notes and photos.
Know Your Topic & Have a Genuine Interest in It
When you can share your experiences and write on a topic you know intimately, you don’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time on research. While you’d still link out to authority sites and quote others, you are up on developments in your field, and so it’s all at your fingertips, or at least readily accessible.
Avoid the Perfectionism Anti Productivity Trap
We all strive for quality, but perfectionism, too much tweaking and too much research can be counter productive. The time draining procrastination monster can cleverly disguise himself as work. As well as productivity and time management, the business of writing is about a good outcome for your reader or client. Will your tweaking make any significant difference? Is your post professional? Is it well written? Is the content sound? Is it useful or interesting? Have you made your point well? Sure it could be improved. Everything can be improved. Remember, blogs are conversations, not academic treatises.
You Don’t Have to Start at the Beginning
If you are ready to write, you don’t have to start at the beginning. Start wherever it suits you. I know someone who read the last page of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” first, and then went on to read the book. Okay, it doesn’t suit everyone. Do what suits you. If you have some ideas for the middle or the end of your post, start there if you prefer. To paraphrase Nike, “Just write it.”
Stream of Consciousness & Outlines
Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way” recommends writing “Morning Pages”. This is a stream of consciousness writing on whatever comes into your head, whether it makes sense or not. This is not for everyone, but it is a good way to get some ideas on paper.
When I wrote my 50 000 word Master’s Thesis, and even now in most of my writing, I use a rough outline. I don’t think of it as an outline though, as often it’s just rough notes or an idea in my head. When I start writing, the idea develops, so in a sense that is a more structured form of stream of consciousness writing. As I write, when I come to a part where my thoughts are not fully formed, I just type a few words, phrases or what I’ve thought of so far. I add a row of asterisks to indicate that I need to come back to that section. That way, my flow is not interrupted. That seems to work for me.
Do What Works Best For You
What is the most productive environment for you to work in? Where do you get your best ideas? Is there a time of the day when you write best and think most clearly? Do you prefer noise or quiet? Be true to yourself, and write in a style that is comfortable for you. Be kind to yourself and things will flow.