Often, the biggest struggle with writing content isn’t coming up with ideas; it’s actually sitting down and creating the content itself. Much like running or training for a marathon, getting started is usually the hardest part. You may find that your procrastination really shines as soon as you see the words “blog post” on your to-do list for the day. Suddenly it’s time to check Twitter, email, or anything else that helps you put off actually writing.
However, it turns out that your English teacher back in high school or college was probably right: the more you write, the easier it becomes. Hence the “free writing” exercises that we got in class. Spending 10 minutes describing your perfect afternoon can help you “warm up” and get used to writing again. While writing exercises can still be a great way to exercise your “writing muscles,” here are a few other tips for establishing a daily blog writing routine. These tips turn your writing into something you’re used to doing every day instead of something you’re avoiding.
Block Off Calendar Time
If you feel like you don’t have time for blog writing, consider adding it into your calendar, just like you would a regular appointment. This strategy is called time blocking and is frequently used by self-employed business owners who have to juggle multiple roles weekly. By setting a recurring time each day to write blog posts, you are prioritizing it. The other things you do each day that waste time (e.g. scrolling social media, browsing Google News for no reason) will automatically be reduced to make time for this new priority.
Start by figuring out your “perfect week.” This is how you would structure your schedule if you had total control over each day. Factor in standing meetings and things you have to do every day, such as meals, kid pickups, or walking the dog. Once you have this dream week sketched out, start tracking how you actually spend your time, as recommended by Laura Vanderkam in her book “168 Hours.” Use an excel spreadsheet and spend a few minutes at lunch and in the evening writing in how you spent your days. If you’re on the computer for the majority of the work day, you can also track your computer activities using an automatic tool like RescueTime.
Once you have your “ideal week” and your “actual week” in front of you, compare the two and figure out how to meet in the middle. Your actual week can show you just how much time you may be wasting on non-productive tasks that aren’t really producing anything of value. It can also show you what to adjust in your ideal week to make it more doable. Once this is done, create your new schedule. Set up recurring times each day for blog writing so you know when to prioritize it. A calendar event will remind you when it’s time to start writing, and colleagues will see that you’re busy during that time and leave you alone. It’s a great way to make time for writing, instead of trying to fit it in between everything else you have to do.
Do it When You Aren’t Burned Out
Another way to make blog writing daily easier is to do it when you are most fresh. This is best exemplified by Brian Tracy’s productivity classic “Eat That Frog.” The main principle behind it is that you need to do your most dreaded task first every day.
Because most of us have the most stamina in the morning, we need to do the tasks that are going to take the most brainpower. Working on a blog post in the morning ensures that the task is easier and gets done. Save menial tasks like email or organizing files for the afternoon, when you are feeling that afternoon slump.
It makes sense that it is much harder to make yourself write when you are burned out from meetings or other projects. Even though we know we feel burned out, most people put off blog writing to later in the day because they aren’t looking forward to doing it. But when you have more energy, harder tasks are easier to tackle.
If the morning truly isn’t when you feel most energized, figure out when you do the best work (when you feel “in flow state”), then schedule tasks accordingly. Because we all work differently, it’s ideal to make your schedule fit around what works best for you, not when you think you should be working.
Prepare in Advance as Much as Possible
One thing that can make daily writing seem a lot easier is to prepare for it ahead of time. Plan out a month or quarter’s worth of blog post ideas all at once so when it’s time to actually write one, you don’t spend that time coming up with an idea. You can simply look at your content calendar, know what you need to write about, and then get started. There are many great resources that can help you batch create blog post ideas, but a really helpful one is Meera Kothand’s “The One Hour Content Plan.”
Another strategy you can try that can make your writing time easier is to prepare outlines in advance. Coming up with headers, notes, statistics, or other supporting information for each post in advance can make your actual writing time more productive, because you don’t have to focus as much on the initial preparation. Some daily writers do this for the next day after they finish the day’s blog post. Writing an outline after finishing a blog post may be a lot easier when you’ve already warmed up your writing muscles.
If you don’t want to do a lot of the researching legwork, you could also ask your team or a virtual assistant to do it for you. Ask them to brainstorm topics or to find some supporting links based around your initial blog post ideas. This can cut down on your preparation time and help you focus solely on crafting great content.
Make Writing Easier
Preparing to write by blocking it off on your calendar, outlining your posts, and finding supporting materials is only the first part of the battle. Actually sitting down to write plagues many who want to write daily.
Even if you’ve done everything you can upfront to make actually writing as easy as possible, there are still a few more tools you can use to make it less daunting. These include editing apps and simple word processors that remove distractions and make you focus on putting “pen to paper” at your computer.
- Simple screen apps: Distraction-free apps like Ommwriter can be full screen, leaving nothing between you and the page. This is ideal if you want to get your ideas out first and then add links and media later.
- Grammar apps: If spelling and grammar frustrate you, Grammarly is a great tool that can be used within Chrome as a free add-on. Unfortunately, it currently won’t work in Google Docs, but does work in CMS editors like WordPress. If you have Microsoft Windows, you can also buy the monthly premium subscription for Microsoft Word and Outlook and it corrects your grammar as you go, making you a stronger writer. The premium version also includes a built-in plagiarism checker to avoid duplicate content.
- Learn how to write better: Grammarly definitely improves your writing, but to learn how to write better structurally, consider Hemingway. They have a free web-based version where you enter in your content to check and they also offer a downloadable program that’s only $20. Hemingway will tell you a variety of things about your writing: is it easy to read? Are certain sentences confusing?
For an example of how these tools work, here’s a screenshot of online Hemingway results from a rough draft:
In addition to sentence structure, it also tells you how long it will take someone to read, as well as the average reading level.
The more you use tools like Grammarly and Hemingway, the better writer you’ll become and the more likely you’ll look forward to writing more. Grammarly reports that over 70 percent of their users said they enjoyed writing more when using the tool.
Something is Better than Nothing
Not only do we put pressure on ourselves to write every day, we may find that completing an entire blog post each day is too much pressure. If you find that is the case, consider breaking up your blog posts to over a few days. Often, simply writing something each day is better than nothing at all.
Little steps toward a completed piece is going to be a lot more productive than rushing a blog post to get it in before the deadline. If you can space it out and take your time to make it better, it actually helps you produce a better piece of writing in the long run.
Sometimes, even at our most productive time of day, a few paragraphs or an outline is all we can do. And that’s okay! Writing is mentally taxing, and not everyone can churn out hundreds or thousands of words daily. That doesn’t mean what you’re writing isn’t worthwhile.
Whether writing just a little bit or a lot daily is your goal, accountability is another key to the puzzle to make writing a habit. Many have found that using something like the “Seinfeld Method” to stay accountable to themselves helps make it a habit.
The Seinfeld Method came from a story a comedian shared about Jerry Seinfeld from his early days in comedy. Seinfeld’s advice to this comedian for becoming better is to write new jokes every day, and on each day you write, to mark a big X on the calendar for that day. Soon, your chain of Xs will be long enough that you don’t want to skip a day and leave a hole, so you write just to make sure you get that X.
If you’d rather have some sort of more external accountability, consider joining or forming a writing group. Create a Facebook group or Slack channel and ask everyone to check in daily with what writing they accomplished.
This also works for others’ goals as well, even if it’s not writing. For instance, if your partner wants to do yoga for at least 15 minutes each day, and you want to work on blog posts for 30 minutes, check in with each other through a text, email, or snap on Snapchat saying that you finished your daily goal. Knowing that someone is relying on you to help them stay accountable can do the same for you.
Don’t Write if You Don’t Have Anything to Say
A daily goal of completing almost anything is usually equated as really making a difference or producing great results. However, if you are finding that writing daily isn’t helping you turn out blog posts that are actually helpful and informative to your target audience, then it’s basically the same as not writing anything at all.
With over 77 million new blog posts published per month on sites running WordPress alone, it’s not enough to simply get more content out online. Focus only on creating content that actually is different than what others have already created and is something people will find useful.
If you are having a hard time doing that, consider working on one great blog post every day for a week instead of a new blog post every day. Quality over quantity in content goes a long way.
Creating a daily blog writing routine is doable if you prepare yourself for success by setting aside time, preparing in advance, and being realistic about what you can produce daily. Even writing a few sentences is better than nothing at all. If you want to look back at what you’ve accomplished, keep track of your daily word counts with an app like Evernote, Google Docs, or What We Did Today so you can learn how much your efforts are paying off.