My love for writing is not a secret, but something I don’t often share is that there are days when I just don’t want to write.
It happens to all of us, regardless of our passion. There are days when all you crave is mindless activity. You just want to watch TV or take a nap. Other days, you just don’t feel like you have time to fit blogging into your already packed schedule.
Commitment is one of those key things that separates those with sustainable, worthwhile blogs from those who will post a few times and disappear. Being a blogger means making a commitment to serve your audience, even when you don’t feel like you have the time or you just don’t want to write.
To help out in those situations, I identified these 23 ways to be a more productive blogger:
1. Identify your peak
We have natural rhythms to our productivity, but they are different for each person. For example, I am much more focused in the morning between about 8 a.m. and noon. I am attracted to shiny objects beginning at about 2 p.m. Identify the time of day when you are most productive and schedule writing time during those focused hours.
2. Eliminate distractions
It took the first couple of years of my undergraduate degree for me to figure out the environment I needed to learn. What I finally realized was that I couldn’t have the television or radio on when I studied. I also couldn’t study with friends or in noisy or distracting environments (even the library where people watching was way too tempting). The same is true for when I write. The best environment for me to write in is one where I am alone and it is quiet. This knowledge helps me eliminate distractions and create an ideal writing environment.
3. Choose your device wisely
We all have numerous devices we could use for writing, but some assist the writing process while others seem to hinder it. Some people prefer to write first on paper, then type out a post. Others might find their iPad to be a convenient and productive writing tool. I prefer to write via my desktop computer. I love the big screen and wireless keyboard and mouse. I rarely feel as productive as I do when I’m sitting at my desk in front of my computer. Determining which device works best for you may be about trial-and-error. It’s not something you can learn from others.
4. Consider your workspace
I’ve read advice from productivity experts about clearing your workspace, leaving nothing but the tools you need for the task you’re completing. That’s a great idea, but it’s probably not for me. The best way to describe my home and work offices is “organized chaos.” What may look like stacks of books and papers to others is a perfect organization system for me. It doesn’t matter what your workspace looks like as long as you have the tools there to be productive.
While we’re discussing workspaces, remember to prepare yourself for productivity before you sit down (or stand if that’s better for you) in your workspace. I always get myself something to drink and use the restroom before I sit down to work. If I’m at home, I change into comfortable clothes. This prepares me to focus on the task I need to accomplish.
5. Switch locations
Even the perfect workspace may feel stagnant at times. Switch locations if you begin to crave change. I sometimes work from a conference room at the office or at my kitchen table. I am crazy productive in coffee shops. I also have been known to read or grade while sitting in the sun on my front porch or at a patio table overlooking our back yard. Don’t be afraid to alter your location. Being comfortable will assist your productivity.
6. Switch mediums
You spent a lot of time determining which device was most productive for your writing, but sometimes it may seem stifling. It’s ok to switch if that happens. Sometimes I just get tired of being in front of a screen, so I grab a notebook and a pen and go write somewhere else. The result is the same.
7. Know why you blog
Understanding the reason behind why you do what you do will help keep you motivated.
8. Choose your passion
Write about something that’s important to you that you know a lot about. You’ll automatically have more motivation.
9. Keep your writing schedule
Create and adhere to a writing schedule. The longer you do this, the more writing will become a habit. Your mind will begin to switch into that mode, saying “Ok, it’s time to write now.”
10. Be realistic
You can set yourself up for failure by over-committing initially to how much you can write. I think it’s best to start a blog with a post a week and build from there once you consistently meet that schedule for a couple of months. If you start your blog thinking you’re going to post five or seven days a week, you’re likely to burnout quickly.
11. Keep an idea list
You can’t be productive during your writing time if you don’t have a clue about what you’re writing about. Keep a list of ideas so you never sit and stare at a blank screen wondering what to do next.
12. Avoid research overload
Don’t get lost in gathering and reading information about your topic. Understand when you know enough to be informative and just write.
13. Outline in advance
Outline your post ahead of time so you’re ready to write when the time comes. I outlined this post (key points and bullet points) in a notebook earlier today, knowing I wouldn’t have time to write it until this evening. However, now the writing is going much quicker because I’ve already spent time simmering on the post’s content.
14. Just write
Don’t edit as you write. This will get you nowhere. Just sit down and write. Editing comes after the full draft is written.
15. Use a timer
Know about how long a post should take and set a timer for that amount of time. This will help you focus on communicating efficiently in the time you’ve allotted.
16. Know when you’re done
You are writing a blog post, not a novel. You don’t have to trace an idea back to the beginning of thought and forward through the death of your great great grandchildren. Write enough to meet your audience’s needs, then be done.
17. Use the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of your input yields 80 percent of your output. Think about that concept in all facets of your productivity. Do you need to do what you’re doing? Only focus on the things that will yield the greatest results.
18. Embrace flow
Sometimes the writing is just easy. The words flow. Take advantage of this flow state and write multiple posts that you can save and use later on days when the words seem difficult.
19. Vary content
Creating different types of content helps you when you don’t feel like writing as much. It also gives you and your readers variety. Consider writing lists, quotes, reviews, Q&As, or using mostly photos or video to tell a story.
20. Challenge yourself
Create a blogging challenge for yourself. For example, Patrick Phillips challenged himself to post every day. How long has it been now, Patrick?
Sometimes your competitive nature will keep you going, even when you’re tired.
21. Reward yourself
I often write at the end of the day. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing it. So, I remind myself that I can crawl into bed with a book as soon as I finish my post. Knowing that I will be able to relax without guilt can be a reward for writing my post.
I also bribe myself with social media. For example, I tell myself that I can check Facebook after I finish writing a post but before I edit it. Facebook becomes the reward for getting it done.
22. Just do it
The best way to write is to write. Some days you may have to force yourself to post. I hope those days are few and far between. If they’re not, you may want to reconsider your blog’s purpose and frequency.
23. Skip one
I don’t encourage you to skip posts because your audience expects you to keep your regular schedule. However, I’ve learned a little secret in seven years of blogging. No one will die if I miss a post. I might feel bad about it. I might have fewer readers that week, but the earth will continue rotating.
I missed a post just yesterday. I had a busy day in the office and my daughter had a night basketball game. I was just too tired when I got home, so I chose to go to bed instead. I felt guilty for a few minutes because I didn’t keep my writing schedule. Then I realized that I didn’t keep it because I spent the time supporting my daughter. Needless to say, I decided my priorities were in place and you guys would understand.
Blogging isn’t easy. You have to put in the time and the work to get the results you want. Hopefully these productivity tips will help you make the most of your writing time and keep your motivation high.