Back in my executive-coaching days a lot of my clients sought advice on how to start and keep an ongoing blog. Many had no problem starting, but got stuck after a five or ten posts because they couldn’t think of anything else to write about, or felt that the only things that popped to mind were things no one would care about.
As I get back into writing after taking a couple years off to focus on the operations side of Picture This Clothing, there were a few preparatory steps I took to get ready so that I wouldn’t hit a content void or miss a Sunday in 2019. These six tips may not work for everyone, but I’ll put them out there in no particular order because they’ve worked for me and my clients in the past.
I’ve been known to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to regular writing. The trick that really got me into a great constant rhythm in the past was starting super small, and gradually building up to bigger chunks of content.
Write one positive word per day, every day in January.
Write a one-sentence #til (Today I learned…) every day in February.
Write/journal about yesterday in 5-minutes, every day in March.
Write about a song that sparks a memory, 15-minutes or less, every day in April
Write about 1 person per day whom you are grateful for, 30-minutes or less, every day in May.
Side note: Setting a timer for writing helps a lot when you’re trying to establish it as a routine!
DEFINE A TIMELINE
In the “Start Small” section of this post, I used one-month increments as an example. I found larger time windows to be a huge challenge and a bit overwhelming because life tends to serve a lot of surprises and I worried about not being able to follow through if I picked something bigger. One great thing about defining your timeline is, it’s super easy to pick new ideas or themes when going month-by-month! It’s a great way to test the waters with different voices and types of content.
I’ve also experimented with smaller time windows, like “for 5 consecutive days”, or “every Saturday in January”…
I knew I wanted to tackle a regular writing schedule in a bigger way in 2019, so I have set the goal of writing every Sunday in 2019. That’s 52 Sundays of a timeline I’ve defined for myself. My best recommendation is to consider what’s manageable to you, and work from there!
Time is precious. I’m a mom of two daughters, I’m the CEO of a company, I have a home and home life that I’d like to keep in good shape, I need and value sleep, like most people, the list goes on. Writing is something I love but tend to de-prioritize in the scheme of everything else. I spent the last two-and-a-half years developing a gym routine in place of a writing routine. My body was in so much pain I really didn’t have a choice. But once my gym routine was firmly established I felt like I could use that exact same time slot on one of those seven days per week and swap gym time for writing time.
If you have an existing routine, the surest way to create a solid habit out of writing is to either replace something, or stack it directly against that routine.
4:15-6:00 am every day for me is gym time. I’ve now exchanged every Sunday’s gym time for writing.
6:00am-7:00 am every day I check and respond to email. I’ll exchange 15-minutes of that time for a writing challenge, for 30 days. See how it goes, adjust if needed, then go again for another 30 days.
Before I had a writing routine that I could replace with a gym routine, then swap out one day of the new gym routine with a day of writing, I had *no* routine. I had to decide to start waking up earlier in order to have more time to do things that were important to me. I started by setting an alarm 5 minutes earlier. When that became normal, I bumped it to 10 minutes earlier, then 15 and so-on.
MAKE A LIST
Because I took the time to define a timeline ahead of starting, I can get prepared. My goal of writing every Sunday in 2019 means there are 52 Sundays that I need to provide posts for. Rather than waiting until I’m sitting in front of my computer at 4:15 am each Sunday to decide what my topic for the day will be, I spent a couple hours typing out ideas on a spreadsheet. There may be no constant theme to my posts yet, but giving myself one less thing to sort through before letting my mind ease into writing makes sure I can get the job done. The most important thing I do to generate ideas is think about questions people ask me, obstacles I’m facing or have overcome, or think about things that inspire me/make me happy!
One of the keys to making a list that’s useful - make sure it has more items on it than needed. So, if my goal is to write 52 posts in 2019, I want to make sure my prep list has at least 75 items on it, more if possible. Some days I sit down to write and wonder what on Earth I was thinking to include some of the items I included. Or I have nothing to say about the item anymore. And sometimes I add to that list as I go.
CREATE A CONTENT BANK
A super-handy trick for not missing a post is to create a little content bank. Think of it as a savings account, but for content. I like to generating about five posts before announcing my goal of doing a blog, or committing to a timeline. My content bank is located in a folder in my Dropbox account so I can access it from pretty much anywhere. All my posts for this 2019 series go into this folder once completed, then I copy/paste into my website’s blog tool.
Here’s what I did/how my content bank works:
In December 2018 I created five posts and did not publish them.
Last week of December I announced my goal of writing every Sunday in 2019.
First Sunday of January I sit down and write a new post and post it immediately after writing. I aim to do this every Sunday as intended.
If anything happens - I’m super sick, or one of my kids is, or can’t write for some reason one Sunday - I still have a post ready to go.
Also, if I’m just not feeling like my post of the day is a good one or worth sharing, I can post one that I wrote previously. But I need to make sure I’m still generating new content and/or putting more savings-content back into the content bank if I use any up.
Even if you are really only writing for yourself, do not keep it to yourself. Force yourself to post it somewhere that it may be read by others. I do this because it keeps me accountable for following through. I may have very few people actually reading my posts, but I’ve almost *always* had at least one person comment, encourage me, or share their own story or opinion about something I’ve written. I LOVE that (I can even appreciate a troll because they took the time out of their life to read AND comment. hehehe.)!
If you have any blogging/writing tips to share, please do so!
Co-founder, CEO, Mom of 2
Picture This Clothing