Ever look back at your week, and wonder what happened?
You started the week with good intentions. In your mind, you’d already written an epic blog post.
But then you sat at your desk. A blank sheet stared at you. The words wouldn’t come.
Your friend Procrastination peeked her head around the door, distracting you with little tasks, that seemed more appealing than writing that blog post.
Can’t find time for writing a weekly blog post? Does blogging feel like an enormous task?
The “secret” to committing to a regular blogging schedule is simpler than you might think: chop up the writing process.
Want to feel good about your weekly writing?
Here’s how you can do it …
How to chop up the writing process
Imagine cooking a festive meal for friends and family …
Chicken saté. Prawns in yellow curry. Beef rendang. Stirfried veggies. Pickled cucumber with pineapple and tomato. Prawn crackers. Rice. Mango sorbet.
Makes your head spin, doesn’t it?
To prepare your meal, you think about different processes like chopping, grinding, and cooking. You also consider which dishes you can prepare beforehand. A curry can be prepared the day before, while veggies have to be stirfried just before your meal.
With writing blog content it’s the same. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Cut the process into steps: idea generation, outlining, writing a crappy first draft, editing, and formatting. Also, consider the different parts of the post: the headline, opening, main body, and final body.
Here’s how you can chop up the process, beat procrastination, and write a delicious blog post every week …
Day 1. Start your blog post
Do you keep a notebook or folder with blog post ideas?
If you don’t, then you need to schedule 30 minutes for a brainstorming session first. Think about your ideal reader, and consider what problems you can solve for her. How can you help her be more productive, get happier, healthier, or wealthier?
Write down at least 30 ideas in 30 minutes. Keep all your ideas on a list, and add ideas whenever people ask questions or provide useful comments. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you probably need to do a brainstorming session only once a year. You’ll hardly ever run out of ideas.
Now, it’s time to start your next blog post:
- Browse through your notebook, and pick an idea.
- Write a working title (a how-to works best). Make sure your working title explains how your reader will benefit from reading your post. Which problem will it solve? What will she learn?
- Outline your post by jotting down preliminary subheads; think about the examples you can use or the mini-stories you can tell.
- If you’d like to add quotes or stats, or need to do other research, do this on day 1, too. When you write a first draft, you don’t want to get distracted by research, so you can write as fast as possible.
Make your first task as small as possible so procrastination doesn’t get a chance to sabotage you.
Day 2. Use a timer to beat procrastination
Some people say writing gets easier over time.
But in my experience, writing is like cycling uphill. When your fitness improves, you get faster to the top, but your legs still hurt as much.
I hate writing a first draft. I have to overcome so much resistance, that I try writing first drafts when I feel groggy—before breakfast. At that time my mind doesn’t have enough energy to rebel.
Here’s how I write a first draft:
- The opening paragraph can feel tricky to write, so skip for now.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and write your first draft as quickly as possible.
- After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and then challenge yourself to finish your first draft in another 25 minutes. Depending on how fast you type and how long your drafts are, you might need less time or a little more.
- Don’t worry about the final paragraph, it’s better to write it when you feel fresh, as it makes you more enthusiastic.
Shut the door, switch off your phone, and close your browsers. And stop worrying about exact wording. Write as fast as you can.
Day 3. Write the 3 most important parts
Focus today on the most important parts of your blog posts. Think about your ideal reader and how your post is going to help her:
- Your headline must grab attention; it can make the difference between so-so social sharing and a popular post. Write at least a dozen headline options, because your first option is rarely the best.
- Nobody reads a post with a drab opening, so your opening must tempt visitors to read on. The best format for blog openings is to empathize with your reader’s problem and promise her that you solve it in your post.
- Your closing paragraph must inspire your reader to take action. Don’t let your post fizzle out. Take away an obstacle to implementing your advice or give your reader a pep talk.
To grow your influence online you must get people to read, share, and act on your advice. That’s why the headline, opening, and closing are critical.
Day 4. Edit your post
Editing your post is like carving a pretty flower from an ugly carrot.
You cut away the waste to reveal a smooth and gripping story. These are your main editing tasks:
- Pick your favorite headline
- Polish your subheads to entice scanners to start reading
- Cut flabby adverbs and weak phrases to make your writing stronger
- Add questions to make your content more conversational
- Make the transitions between sentences smooth so readers effortlessly glide through your content
- Check for grammar and spelling mistakes
- Read your post aloud to find the right rhythm
Want readers to enjoy your posts? Editing is where the magic happens.
Day 5. Format, publish and promote your post
Yay! You’re nearly done.
On the last day, you publish your post:
- Find or draw a picture
- Format your post in WordPress
- Add links from a few old blog posts to your new blog post (and from your new blog post to a few old blog posts)
- Write an email to promote the post to your email subscribers
- Promote the post on social media
Don’t forget to pat yourself on your back for publishing your post!
Work that isn’t scheduled doesn’t get done
Each blog post you write is an opportunity to engage your fans. To get more shares. To gain more traffic. To grow your authority. To find new readers. To win more business.
But when you don’t block time in your calendar, tasks don’t get done.
Don’t let blogging slip to the bottom of your to-do list. Stick to a schedule that works.
Grow your audience. Build your business. And be proud of your work.
Write It, Don’t Fight It
A Step-by-Step Course to Become a Prolific and Joyful Writer
“Since starting the program, I’ve written and published 3 blog posts, a 300% improvement over my track record.”
~ Deborah Reidy