How to Write a Blog a Week When You Have No Time
Writing. It’s a time consuming activity but it’s something that most of us have to do at one time or another, not just those who write for a living. Blogging, creating thought leadership content and sending regular messages to your email list are some of the best things you can do to grow your business, but when you’re juggling a hundred other things it’s easy to put it off until some magical time in the future when you have hours to spare.
As a professional writer I spend my days writing for clients, but when it comes to writing for my own business, like many others, I struggle to find the time. Between billable work and running around after my kids, there's never a decent amount of free time to sit down, block out distractions and focus for a couple of hours. If I do manage to find it, I'm more likely to nap, procrastinate or fold the laundry.
Years of experience has taught me that the mystical day when I have hours in which to write is never going to materialise, so I’ve learned to use the bits and pieces I have available to write in small chunks.
You’d be surprised how much can be done in a 10 or 20 minute block of time and regular effort leads to a decent output - since I started doing it, I’ve been able to knock over one or two blog posts a week that would never have happened if I kept putting them off until I had the time.
Basically I’ve learned to break down the long and dauntingly overwhelming task of writing a blog post into a series of smaller tasks that can be slotted in around other work, waiting at school pickup, or hanging around between meetings. Here’s how I do it.
1.Initial brain dump
As a writer, there’s nothing scarier than staring at a blank page.
Before you even start writing anything coherent, get everything in one central place and just do a brain dump. Jot out your ideas in bullets, add in any extra information or links to sources you want to use and anything else that springs to mind. You want to get everything out of your head and onto the page - it doesn’t matter how it sounds, as long as you can understand what you’re talking about when you read it back later.
This is a great way to combat writer’s block as it gets rid of the initial blank page, which can be intimidating to anyone, and gets your brain started thinking about what you want to say. Dump it and then walk away.
2. Write in short bursts
Time pressure can make you work faster. This is why it’s good to write in short bursts. You can use the pomodoro technique where you set a timer for 25 minutes, focus for that time then take a five minute break. Or you can choose even shorter bursts – what about seeing how much you can write before the kettle boils or the washing machine finishes its cycle (if you’re working at home). You’ll be surprised how fast you can write when the pressure is on, and setting a manageable amount of time to write in makes it seem less scary than the idea of having to write for hours on end.
Once I’ve done my brain dump and left it for a while I usually set a 25 minute timer and just write. The aim is to have a first draft done by the end of the 25 minutes. It won’t be shakespeare, it may not even be coherent but it’s there. Then it’s time to...
Perfectionism is the enemy of the productive writer. That’s why it’s so important to just get it out at first. Once you’ve got words on the page you’re going to edit.
Editing is easier than writing especially if you leave a little time between writing and coming back to it. You’ll be able to see what you’ve written with fresh eyes and cut through the waffle. Fill in those blanks, erase those weird sounding sentences and tweak your analogies and metaphors until you’re happy with them. I do this over a period of a few days or whenever I can find the time.
While you might be working in short sharp bursts of time, it’s important that when you’re writing you really focus. This means minimising distractions including email notifications, Facebook, the laundry and your noisy co-worker. Invest in noise cancelling headphones and put away your phone.
By making use of those odd bits of time you have here and there, you can produce great content, improve your reputation and still have time to run your business and have a life.
Still struggling to find time to blog? I can help - get in touch today.