Keys for Maintaining a Robust Blogging Schedule
When it comes to writing, I often feel like Goldilocks.
I might wake up and say to myself, yes, today is the day that I’m going to write a perfect post for our company’s blog. I spend my morning commute thinking about different angles for an engaging article, or pondering new things I’m interested in, and by the time I stroll into the office, my head is chock full of ideas.
But first things first: I check my email, and attend to an inbox that’s already full of messages. While not every email will need immediate action to start the day, each message will require, at the very least, a thoughtful and prompt reply. As this takes up the first hour, more employees start to arrive at the office, and I spend time checking in with various team members about the status of some projects, along with our daily goals. This segues nicely into a morning conference call with remote employees, and soon my day becomes prioritized with emerging tasks, coupled with long term projects that demand steady progress every day.
At this rate, the thought of blogging is slowly replaced with more pressing matters that command my attention, and each time I open up the blank Word doc named “NEWEST-BLOG-POST,” I find convenient excuses to avoid starting. By the end of the day, I’ll be lucky to have a single paragraph on the page.
The crazy part isn’t that I don’t have time to blog. What’s truly astonishing is the level of mental gymnastics that I do to avoid blogging, even when I understand its tremendous value.
I feel like Goldilocks, but instead of chairs, bowls of porridge, and beds, I’m trying out laptops and struggling to type. The conditions are simply never perfect for writing.
While I’m never going to be able to pause life in order to devote myself to crafting a post, I can make subtle decisions that will help stimulate the writing process.
Here are my keys for maintaining a robust blogging schedule.
1) Set Deadlines
It’s easy to procrastinate on blog posts if you don’t set a deadline. I’m still learning how to do this, but keeping (and being beholden to) a schedule is usually the kick-in-the-pants that I need to start my next post.
2) Choose a Topic (And Stick to It)
Being paralyzed by choice is one of the primary aspects of the modern human condition, and with blogging, there is a seemingly infinite amount of ideas/angles/topics for me to choose from. I find it’s important to identify a topic early, put up my blinders to ignore the universe of possibility, and stick with my topic even if I begin to waver. If I start writing and find myself thinking too much about other topics, I can be rest assured that I will have plenty of opportunities to write about them in the future.
3) Do Some Research (But Not Too Much)
In our last blog post, our editor Stacy discussed the importance of research for coming up with topics. Once I hone in on a topic, I tend scour the Internet to see what other people have written. And while I enjoy reading about things I find interesting, I can easily get bogged down by doing too much research. Usually this happens when I worry that my topic will fall apart as I move forward. I convince myself that there won’t be enough sources, or worse, that I have nothing new to contribute on the subject. I usually have to limit my amount of research, to avoid falling into this trap that further pushes my actual writing aside.
4) It’s Not Going to Be Perfect (At First)
It’s always a struggle for me to do anything if I don’t think it will be perfect. I used to think this was a good quality (taking pride in my work, not turning in something that I know could be better, etc.) but it severely hinders my ability to write. That’s why I have to come to terms with the fact that my first, second, and sometimes third attempt at a blog post might not be perfect, and that’s totally O.K. The hardest part is always getting the first draft down, and over time I’ve found myself actually enjoying the revision process.
5) Find Your Writing Environment (You Might Have to Move Around a Bit)
I like the idea of timeboxing, and allocating specified amounts of time to individual tasks, but it’s never really worked for me. I try to maintain a set schedule, but if one task takes a bit longer, it can throw my whole day out of whack. Even when I suspend work on one activity to attend to other tasks, I often have a nagging feeling about the thing I stopped doing, which impedes my concentration and overall productivity.
What works for me is Location Boxing, where I’ve found particular spaces for certain tasks. This can be difficult to achieve in a smaller workspace, but it’s often as simple as simple as putting on headphones to create my own personal writing island of, bringing my laptop to a coffee shop or library, or moving around the office. Almost as soon as I sit down in a space I’ve expressly devoted to a certain activity, I feel obligated to immediately get down to work.
At the end of the day, everyone is different, and the ways you find your blogging mojo might be entirely different than mine. But it’s important to spend time developing your own process, and fine-tuning your methods until blogging comes naturally.