When push comes to shove, consistency is the most important factor in writing
If you’re anything like me, you have a day-job. That means we both have responsibilities besides writing. Curse our capitalist society!
We’re the cogs keeping this machine running, yet we still find the time to feed our creative spirit.
I’m a blogger now, but I never pictured myself saying that. I struggled to write just two stories a week, but with time I’ve expanded my capabilities.
I live by an unbeatable writing process that you can follow too.
I blog ahead of time. I write three stories a week and publish them the following week. I like planning ahead. It’s easier than spending the day writing, editing, and rushing a story through the publication process.
If I tried to write a whole story, go to my job, and fit in a workout all in the same day, I’d be burnt out by the end of the week.
Honestly I wouldn’t ever want to write again. A daily writing habit is one thing, but a daily story posting habit, is a complete feat.
The best habits are built over time
Let me use running as an example. If you want to become a better runner, you shouldn’t go as hard as you possibly can every time you go out for a jog.
If you do, you’ll feel too worn out to run the next day, or maybe even for the rest of the week.
Trust me when I say I’ve been there. The town I live in doesn’t have a single flat street, and I look at every hill like it’s a challenge. These runs knock me out, and leave me feeling sore in the morning.
Too sore, in fact, that I certainly won’t run again for at least three days.
We want to feel willing to write everyday, not just today.
That’s why I usually adhere to a writing process that keeps me motivated to write all the time. Sometimes, however, I have more time on my hands, and I’m able to write an entire story in one day.
When I get into this mode, I only need about 45 minutes to write an entire story, and it’s easy enough to do it while feeling effortless.
Here’s how I do it.
I come up with a money-making idea and a simple blueprint
This process takes about 5 minutes. To come up with a great idea, you don’t necessarily need some kind of life altering experience. You can do these:
- Write what you know
- Think of your own unique experiences, not grandiose ones
- Niche down to a few topics you regularly think about
Your own life experiences are unique to you. You might know something that others don’t, so sharing how you solved a problem is valuable to others going through a similar situation.
How to draw up the blueprint
The planning phase might take a few minutes, but it will save you a ton of time in the long run.
By now, I have my main idea. It might be “5 Macro Friendly Bagel Recipes,” so all I need now are a couple subheadings to act as the body of the blog post.
For this post, the subheadings would be the names of the recipes, and maybe the calories and macro-nutrient breakdowns.
Now let’s say I’m writing about a life changing college experience. The main idea goes in the header, but I’ll spend a few minutes quickly thinking of ideas to build on. It’s easier than writing subheadings during the actual writing process.
Think of an inverted pyramid. The general idea should start at the top, and the information should filter to more specific details as you work into the body paragraphs.
Maximize your effort with 20 minute writing sessions
Once I have a skeleton outline, I start writing. I put on my noise-canceling headphones, tune some binaural beats, and write without thinking too hard about what I’m writing.
These are my two keys to efficient writing.
- I use flow states to reach peak performance.
- I time myself so I don’t feel pressured to write all day.
While I write, I don’t worry about any grammar or spelling mistakes. These mistakes are inevitable, but they’re necessary if I want to finish my writing in a timely manner.
I’ll fix the mistakes later during a separate editing session.
I’m inspired by the Pomodoro Technique
The idea is to choose a task, do it for 25 minutes, take a five minute break, and do it again for 25 minutes.
I think it’s incredibly effective for certain tasks, but I think 20 minutes is easier to wrap your head around. 20 minutes is an even number that just makes sense to me.
No matter how busy your day is, you can find 20 minutes to write.
Save the editing session for the evening
Have you ever written an impeccable sentence?
It wraps up your story in a beautiful way. In fact, it’s so good, you sit back in your chair and pour yourself a glass of bourbon in Hemingway fashion.
But then you read your published story and realize your work of literary mastery wasn’t all that amazing.
In fact, it’s atrocious, and you hate it. You can’t believe you were the one who put those silly words together and called it a sentence.
We’re unconsciously biased toward our own work
Basically, we are prone to thinking what we’ve created is fine. Sometimes we look at our work through a thin lens.
Kimberly Papillon, judicial educator and consultant, says this about our hidden biases:
“Implicit or unconscious bias operates outside of the person’s awareness and can be in direct contradiction to a person’s espoused beliefs and values.”
When writing, one may be completely unaware that their words don’t align with their message, or, frankly, don’t make sense.
Solution: In the evening, after you’ve written, worked out, done the laundry, and made dinner, go back to your article. All you have to do now is read your own work and make some small changes.
You’re less likely to be biased toward your own work after you focus on some other tasks during the day. You need some distractions to take your mind off the story. You’ll have a fresh perspective when you come back to edit.
I have something to admit. I didn’t wrap up this whole post in a day. In fact, I was actually in Arizona with a few close friends when I started it.
My intention, of course, was to write and edit the story within the confines of the day, but I got distracted. It’s actually been days since I started writing this story, and I’m finally editing it now.
It really goes to show that you don’t need to write a story every day. Blogging should be fun. You shouldn’t feel pressured to publish blog posts by a certain time. This isn’t a college term paper that’s due at 11:59 P.M. tonight, after all.
Blogging is an extensive passion project that I’m only starting to understand. I’m just glad I’ve come to terms with my expectations.
Writing is hard, but it doesn’t need to be. Don’t write a story every single day if you don’t want to. That is silly and it leads to burnout.
If you’re up for the challenge though, by all means do it! Pump out seven stories or more every week. You won’t catch me doing that. I’ll keep writing at my own, happy pace.