In the year and three months that I’ve been blogging, I’ve published nearly 430 pieces.
I constantly see writers wondering how that’s possible. People say they don’t have the time, the stamina, or the ideas. They continue to write one to two articles a week but desire to write more often.
They just don’t know how. That’s why I’m going to teach you.
1. Become an idea-machine
Generating ideas is a common struggle amongst writers. The blank page is the enemy, and they don’t know how to make its blood spill. This holds them back from writing.
How is it that even though ideas come from everywhere you’re not receiving them at all? There’s only one reason why: you don’t have an open mind.
Though not on purpose, you’re regularly consuming the same type of content, and therefore, thinking the same thoughts.
How are you supposed to write about new topics when new ideas aren’t entering your head?
To become an idea-machine, you need to be open to everything — even if it’s random and unrelating to your niche.
Even though you write about productivity, don’t read another book about that subject. If, while you were browsing online, a history book about Kennedy piqued your interest, read that. Rather than watching another class on writing, watch the interior design course you’ve been eyeing.
You’re not digging for ideas about history or interior design. You’re putting yourself in a position to get a thought that leads to another thought that turns into an idea that transforms into an entire article.
Even looking up from your phone and staring at the sky and the trees and the ocean lets ideas bubble in your brain until they explode on the page.
If you find nothing out in the world, look inside yourself. Ask yourself what you feel, how you feel, about your dreams and hopes and fears. That’s when you’ll discover various stories, memories, and lessons.
By consuming and doing different things you start having different thoughts.
If you have ideas, especially ones that excite you, you’re going to want to sit and write. Nothing will stop you then — not until you’ve told the whole story.
2. Set a minimum writing goal
If every week you say, “I’m going to write a few articles,” you’re not going to write them. You’ll write one, maybe, but not more. Why? Because you set a vague goal, and unclear goals lead to half-hearted action.
You don’t really know what you’re doing (or why), so what’s the point in really trying?
When you know exactly how often you’re going to write, it makes it easier to sit down and actually pump out an article. If you want to write more articles, you need to set a clear, achievable goal that determines how many.
I know what you’re thinking. “I’m going to write ten articles a week,” or “I’m going to write twice a day.”
You should always aim to do more than you think you can, but you don’t want to push to the max. Not yet. Instead, set a minimum target of pieces you can write per week.
Three to five articles a week is a worthy goal. It’s more than most people are willing to write, but not so much that you’ll burn out in a few months.
Avoid writing one or two because you can reach those goals easily. Remember, you want to push yourself — that’s how you grow.
My goal is five. I tend to write six, but never seven. If you can assign days for writing, even better. Monday through Friday are my writing days. I’m not allowed to skip unless it’s the weekend.
A minimum, that’s it. No one’s asking you to go above and beyond. Write at least three articles, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.
3. Establish a writing routine
I know, I know. Don’t hate me for suggesting this — something everyone suggests. But let me ask you something: Out of the fifty times that you’ve read this advice, have you actually tried it?
Setting a writing routine isn’t about finding the perfect time or space. It’s about building a writing habit.
When I first started writing, I had a strict routine: wake up at seven and write one article, no exceptions. I followed that system without fail for about a year.
Now, I write an article whenever I want to. I’m so accustomed to writing every weekday, I don’t think twice about it. Even if I don’t do it once I wake up, I know I’ll do it later.
But I wouldn’t have gotten to this place unless I’d followed that routine for a whole year.
You need a routine to help you get used to showing up often and writing a lot. Ideally, you should write every day — like I used to — so you can become accustomed to it. Every other day or five times a week works, too.
You have no valid excuse to not establish a routine and start writing.
- If you “don’t have time,” watch one less episode of your show or replace an hour of social media with writing.
- You also don’t need the perfect space. As long as your feet touch the ground and your back is straight, you’re doing it right. (I write on the kitchen table.)
- There’s no ideal time. Only your time. Morning, evening, night — doesn’t matter.
- Ideally, you’d like quiet, but most of us don’t have that. I’m writing this article while the neighbor’s kids shriek and my family goes in and out of the kitchen.
If I can write with no privacy and no silence, you can too.
4. Get excited about your goals
Every last week of the month I set the same goal to write at least five high-quality pieces I’ll be proud of. Setting this goal gets me excited to write, so without hesitation, I sat down and started drafting this.
If you want to write more often, you want to feel excited about writing. You want to look forward to it. To do this, think about your goals. Think about everything you wish to achieve and accomplish, and yes, earn.
Think about your progress. Nothing gets me more excited than realizing that every time I write, I become a better writer. I grow. Don’t you want to be able to articulate your thoughts better and improve your storytelling?
You won’t always feel like writing, and there’s nothing wrong with finding ways to get inspired.
Listening to motivational music like Underdog by Alicia Keys, Underdog by The Script, or My Shot by the Hamilton Cast helps tremendously. Just as listening to upbeat music helps you get through a run, it can motivate you to sit and write.
Reading also helps — it inspires you. Reading a story or an article that helps you or gets all your emotions flying will make you want to write and replicate that great piece of work. Hell, even exercising helps.
The one thing you need above all is a love for writing. You gotta like it. If you don’t, if you can’t sit for an hour or two because all you feel is dread, then you’re in the wrong business.
5. Don’t write in one sitting
You don’t need to pressure yourself to finish writing a piece in one sitting by the end of the hour. Yes, it’ll take you longer to complete one article, but you’re not wasting time. I got a chance to read. You could wash the dishes or go for a quick walk around the block.
Let your brain be for a while. Don’t go on social media or watch an episode of a sitcom series. That’s much too much noise and distraction for your brain.
Sitting down and planning to write a 1,000-word article can be intimidating. Taking breaks makes the process less overwhelming and more enjoyable.
Instead of sitting for sixty minutes straight, then get up every twenty-five minutes. Use the Pomodoro Technique. Break it down. Ease your mind. Plus, the ‘thinking time’ you give yourself will probably lead to new points and ideas you can add to your piece.
The less stressed you are, the more you’ll write. It’s productivity 101: If you don’t feel like you have a lot on your plate, you feel like you can dig in faster.
If you want to write more content, you need to banish all the excuses you have on the tip of your tongue. You can’t say you don’t have time or ideas anymore because you just learned what to do about those problems.
Some writers are fine with only writing when they feel like it and publishing once a week. If that’s what makes them happy, then they’re allowed to keep doing that.
If you’re not happy with that type of schedule, do something about it. One thing is for sure — if you want to make a living from this, you can’t write carelessly. Not unless you’re damn good at writing and attracting readers.
You’ve got to ask yourself what type of writer you want to be and what kind of work you’re willing to put in. So, ask away. Then, get to work.