You need to produce a lot of content. You don’t have a lot of time to sit down to write that content. It’s the problem many writers face today. The demands of life are great, the demand for fresh content is also great, and it’s tough to balance everything out. This results in a lot of stress, quite a few unfinished blog posts, and ultimately content that isn’t as good as it could be when you do eventually publish it.
What would happen if you could write more, but actually spend less time writing?
It seems like a pipe dream, but some of the internet’s most prolific writers make this happen on a regular basis. There are writers who produce 20,000 words of content every day, 6-7 days per week, and all of it feels fresh and new. That can be you. Here’s how to write great blog posts in short time frames so you can produce all of the content you need.
#1. Superglue your pants to your chair.
Okay – so don’t literally do this. Having your jeans stuck to your leather executive chair makes for a bad day. You can also create a bad day for yourself by allowing all of the distractions the internet has to offer interfere with your work.
How many times do you check on Facebook every day? Do you have an active Twitter account? Do you love sharing photos on Instagram? These platforms offer an endless amount of content that you can consume. It’s important content because these are family, friends, and associates speaking to you.
It’s also going to stop you from writing.
When you transfer your attention to a social network from your writing, you can lose 15 minutes of productivity. Now multiply that by checking three social networks just once per day: you’ve lost 45 minutes of writing time. In that amount of time, you could have written 1,500 words of meaningful content.
If you don’t have the willpower to keep your social networks off of your broswer tabs, consider installing a plugin that will block your access. Shut off your email while you’re at it as well. This way you can focus on your writing instead of those funny cat videos your friend just posted.
#2. Tell your story no matter what it is you’re writing.
There’s this fellow. He lives just outside of Seattle. His house is chaos – like a tornado decided to explode inside the home. There are four young kids running around almost all the time. Because of the way his life has changed, he found it difficult to meditate. There was just too much noise.
Then he had a brilliant idea: what if he added more noise to his meditation time?
It worked. Now he meditates every day for 20 minutes, but the television is on, there’s music playing in the background, and he handles stress better than he has in years.
Now that’s a story, right? Some people might relate to that fellow. Others might be entertained by the story being told. The fact is that writing is a lot easier when you’re telling people your stories.
What has happened in your life? What did you learn from the experience. Tell the story, offer readers a look at the lessons which arose from that situation, and you’ll find it can be really easy to write thousands of words of content in a short amount of time.
#3. Gather your facts first.
When you’re writing a great blog post, the goal is to offer readers some interesting facts that they may not have known before. The only problem is that many writers try to write their post before they’ve gathered all the facts they wish to include. This creates a writing style that is choppy and a voice that is inconsistent.
Gathering your facts before you start writing gives you three distinct advantages that improve your composition speed.
- You begin to structure the format of your post. As you gather facts, your mind starts to put together how the post will be composed. With this image in your mind’s eye, it becomes a lot easier to just write.
- You have sources to include in your content. Anyone can pretend to be anything they want to be on today’s internet. By gathering your facts first, you can create source links to include in your content that prove you know what you’re talking about.
- You get to update your own perspective. Everything evolves. Just look at how the SEO industry has changed since the early days of Google. In the past, all you had to do was include the same keyword dozens of times to be able to rank for it. Today you need to focus on value and substance. If you’re the writer who was an SEO expert in 2008, getting your facts together before you write will keep your content relevant.
Accuracy is critical when writing a great blog post in a short amount of time. If your facts aren’t supported in some way, then you’ll lose your credibility. Making assumptions will destroy the creative process. Get your facts, then write. It’ll save you a ton of time.
#4. Compose your headings first.
You’ve created an outline of your post in your head. Now let’s turn that mental image into a reality. Instead of trying to write a blog post from start to finish, trying writing out all of your headings first. Get your main heading in there, then create your subheadings so you know where you plan to take the reader with your blog post. Then you can start to compose the body text of your blog post.
When you adopt this strategy for your writing, you eliminate the wasted time so many writers have staring at their computer, trying to think up something to say. You’ve already planned what you want to say. Now you’ve just got to say it.
#5. Get into the writer’s high.
Have you heard of the “runner’s high?” It’s a state of euphoria that some people get while they’re running. According to WebMD, the term is used to “describe the feelings of psychological well-being that are associated quite often with long-duration, rhythmic-type exercise.”
That’s how runners can make it through a marathon and feel like a million bucks. It’s also how you can write 2,000 words in the same amount of time. Runners have their footsteps to establish rhythm. Writers have the tap tap tap of the keyboard.
This is how you can “get into the zone” as a writer. You find your own writer’s high. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does you can produce an enormous amount of content in a short amount of time.
Now here’s the good news: you can encourage yourself to find that writer’s high on a consistent basis. Here’s how you do it.
- Establish a method of focusing on writing. Whether it’s listening to ambient music, having a fan on in the background, or discovering who really will pass the lie detector test on Maury, find what works to help you focus and stick with it.
- Plan for contingencies before you start. Do you think you’ll get hungry while writing? Will you want some coffee? Is your neighbor mowing his lawn, kicking up your allergies? Plan for as many contingencies before you start writing so you can stay in your groove.
- Visualize your productivity. Sometimes a blog post must be complex to get a difficult point across to a reader. Composing this type of post can create doubts. Uncertainty. It can make you uncomfortable enough to go do something else. If you can visualize yourself completing a blog post, then writing it becomes a lot easier.
#6. Create a list of ideas for future blog posts.
It’s time to write a blog post. You just don’t know what you’re going to write about. You’ve had a couple of ideas, but they just aren’t coming to fruition. You crack your knuckles, stalling for time, and then eventually decide that you’re just wasting time. Since you’re wasting time, you decide to just turn on the PlayStation 4 sitting next to you.
One of the easiest ways to start producing great blog posts in a short amount of time is to prepare your ideas ahead of time. Instead of trying to think up a creative idea right there on the spot, spend some time preparing a full list of ideas for your blog. Create a list of 50 ideas. Or 100 ideas. Or however many may come to mind.
The mind works better when it can focus on a specific solitary task. Creating a list of ideas is a solitary task. Composing a blog post from one of those ideas is another solitary task. This allows you to stop shifting your focus from being creative to the task of writing and back again, which ultimately makes you a more productive writer.
#7. Expand upon the ideas that someone else has offered.
Neil Patel has a fantastic blog. He’s actually got several under different branding and all of them offer some good advice. The only problem is that it’s advice that is from his perspective. Neil is sharing the ideas that have helped him find success.
Those ideas can help you – there’s no doubt about it. How have those ideas helped you? Think about what you’ve learned from others and then expand upon them based on your unique experiences. This is a great way to offering meaningful content to your blog.
What’s great about using this approach is that it shows the evolutionary process of the core idea. Neil offers his perspective. You offer your perspective. Maybe someone else offers their perspective after incorporating your ideas and experiences into a blog post of their own.
Some writer’s don’t like this strategy because they feel like it is “copying” the idea. It’s not when you are sharing your story. Just rewriting something that Neil wrote without your perspective – now that’s copying.
#8. Focus on the thesis statement.
When you’re writing a blog post, there is always one main thesis statement that you’re making. Quite often that thesis statement becomes the headline for your content. Here are some examples.
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What is a thesis? It’s a statement or a theory that is offered to a reader as a premise that must be either maintained or proven. This means everything in your blog post must focus on providing evidence that the reader can do what you’re writing about.
Some writers like to start with their call to action when focusing on the thesis. This allows them to align each section of the blog post to that call to take action so the content is consistent. Others writers prefer a linear approach, like writing a research paper for school. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way here – there’s just your way.
The goal is simple: to walk the reader through the process which is necessary to achieve the thesis statement which has been offered. Since you’re writing about practical steps you’ve already taken in most cases, then the words are easy to find.
#9. Turn writing into a positive habit.
“Writing is easy,” said Mark Twain. “All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
If only it were that simple. To write great blog posts in a short amount of time, most writers need to make this activity a positive habit of theirs. It can’t be just a job or a hobby. You have to feel like the day isn’t going your way if you didn’t get the chance to write for awhile to produce fast, consistent content.
In other words, not writing must make you feel as awkward as not brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or taking a daily shower.
If you’re struggling to sit down and write something that feels meaningful, then you may not have established writing as a positive habit yet. You can begin working on this process starting today by focusing on the three components of the positive habit-forming cycle.
- What makes you want to write? This is called the “cue.” It’s a thought, feeling, or action that triggers a need to want to write something.
- What makes you keep writing? What motivates you to keep your blog active? How do you make sure you have access to your blog so you can write on it? Make it as easy as possible to write for as long as you need to write every day.
- How do you reward yourself? You’ve just finished writing something fantastic. If you immediately reward yourself when you’re successful with your routine, you’ll reinforce the feelings that helped you start writing in the first place.
Positive habits still require balance. If you reward yourself with ice cream every time you write 2,000 words, then you might be eating ice cream 10 times per day if you have a lot of productivity. Those pants won’t fit you in the near future with that kind of reward system. Put these together, give yourself something meaningful, but healthy, and you’ll find that it will become very easy to slip into the writer’s chair every day.
#10. Resist the urge to edit your work while writing.
Editing is a very different process from writing. When you write, you’re giving life to the facts that you’re offering to your readers. When you edit, you’re making sure that the words you’ve written convey the correct message in the correct tone and voice.
What if I misspell a word or make a grammatical mistake? Sure. Fix those. What you don’t want to fix are the edits required for active vs. passive voice, conversational tone, and jargon/slang/language that are being used within the content.
“If writing seems hard,” said William Zinsser, “it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.”
Notice Mr. Zinsser didn’t say “editing.”
The first draft of anything isn’t supposed to be fantastic. It’s supposed to be a greater outline of your ideas. Once you’ve finished that first draft, then you can go back and check on the tone, voice, and language you’ve used. If you try to take on these editing components while you’re writing, then it’s just going to slow you down.
Or worse – turn you into a writing perfectionist.
There’s no shortcut here. There’s no outstanding bit of advice to be offered. You must simply develop the discipline to create a first draft and then go back to edit it instead of trying to create a perfect final draft on the first try.
#11. Write short.
Unless a computer screen is tinted or your reader is wearing computer glasses, then there is a good chance that they’re suffering from eye fatigue. This is a real issue with modern technology right now. People actually read content slower on a screen than they do in a printed book. Because of this, you’ll want to get your point across in “sectional bursts” instead of pronounced thoughts.
Let’s say you go out to a restaurant for dinner tonight. You order a steak, baked potato, and a dessert. The waiter delivers a salad first. Then you get your baked potato. Then you get your dessert. Your steak comes after you receive the bill in a Styrofoam container. Would you be satisfied?
Of course not. You want what you ordered. So do your readers. They don’t want you to waste time with fluff. Get to the point. Offer them the facts they need. This will captivate readers because they can see the value being offered to them.
#12. Use images to reinforce your key points.
Writing a blog post is much different than writing a novel. Novels are driven by descriptions, dialogue, and character thought. Blog posts are driven by facts, opinions, and experiences. You can’t picture facts in your head like you can picture dialogue between two fictional characters. The mind just doesn’t work that way.
What you need are images that reinforce the key points you’re trying to make.
Most blog posts have an image at the beginning of the post, but then don’t offer any more images to the reader. This makes it really difficult to read a post. A good rule of thumb is to include a relevant image for every 300-350 words of content that you write.
How can you make sure your images are relevant?
- Consider adding vertical images instead of horizontal graphics to make your content more socially friendly on today’s networks.
- Include textual components on the image to offer “information blurbs” that will stick with the reader.
- Use specific facts that support the experiences you’re sharing within your blog post.
If you’re really stuck on a blog post, then look for images that you’d like to share with your readers. See what facts they contain. You can then begin structuring your content around the images. And, if you happen to use an image that is not your own, make sure you link that image to the page where you found it [not the image URL] and get permission.
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