A good chunk of my reader base includes fellow bloggers. I’m talking to you guys today and asking you if writing, though a passion, can really stress you out at times?! I love to write, but there are so many times that it puts a strain on me. Reasons: I know others are watching, I have self-imposed deadlines and spotty willpower when it comes to meeting them, I’m pressed for time, and it’s just plain hard. Writing is like working out; you really have to push yourself to start and it’s hard and not that fun…until you get going. Then you feel good and you enjoy it and you’re glad you did it! So you keep going back to the proverbial salt lick and torturing yourself in the best way possible.
If writing/blogging stresses you out, I’m here to share a few tips on how to de-stress the process and even start to work ahead of schedule. Hey, there is nothing more stressful than working at the eleventh hour, even if you are your own boss. (Actually, that might even be worse.)
(PS. This process works for all forms of writing and many other projects! I.e. Your exercise regimen, meal planning, decluttering, etc. Just observe the formula and adjust accordingly!)
Step 1: Brainstorm
What do you want to write? Holy cow, that is the scariest question for a writer. When faced with this question, I start to think I might just take the easy way out and be the Pollock of the blogosphere: just throw anything up there that will stick and call it writing (read: art). But we all want to create good and useful content as writers, so your first step is to brainstorm ideas.
Fresh out of ideas? There are LOADS of articles out there dedicated to helping you come up with your next post topic. It can be as simple as writing a product review like I did with my latest post, My Honest Graze Review, or something more specific might be sparked by a more general idea. For example, I was reading an article about productivity apps and it sparked the inspiration for my own similar article, but with a twist for my niche: 9 Apps To Help You Be a Slay-At-Home Mom.
Get on Pinterest and look around for ideas. Make a list of everything you can write about that pertains to your niche, then start to tweak and tailor those ideas to fit your audience, your interests, and your writing-style.
Step 2: Draft & Schedule
If brainstorming your topics was blowing the dust off your sneakers and putting aside excuses not to go to the gym, then step 2 is penciling in your workout. Once you have your list in hand, hop on your site and create a draft for every item on your list. Attempt to come up with titles for your articles, but don’t worry about getting them perfect. Just get the jist and move on. Creating the document, even if there’s no content to it yet, will generate great momentum for writing and prevent you from making excuses. The next time you know a blog post is coming due, you will already have your topic waiting for you–several topics, in fact!
Once you have a draft document created for each topic, get a rough idea of when you would like to post what. I like to try to post on Mondays and Thursdays, which means I aim to post 8 times a month. Therefore, I try to plan 8 topics and schedule them ahead of time, so I’m not caught off guard.
Think about how many articles you want to post each month and schedule your topics.
Step 3: Just. Start.
Here’s the key to knocking the stress out of any task: Just. Start. Get on the treadmill and start going no matter how you feel. Believe it or not, just starting to write, even if the material is shoddy, will build momentum to keep going. Before you know it, words are flying and you’ve breeched that chasm that stands between a blank document and a well-written article. All that’s left to do is a little proofreading.
Remember how you created a draft for all those topics? This is a GREAT help for getting past writers block. There have been times that I had a post deadline coming up and was hitting a wall on the topic I had planned to write about. . Having a collection of topics, drafts, and titles gives you options to choose from. Maybe you don’t feel prepared or in the mood to write about your planned topic this week–move down the list. It’s that simple.
If you don’t have any additional topics pending you will more often than not be left scrambling for an idea or, worse, procrastinating in dread, maybe even to the point that you go weeks or months without a new article.
So. Just start. Even if your content initially sucks, get something written and you will be well on your way.
Step 4: Write, Edit, Post, Repeat
If you repeat the above process enough times (read: EVERY DAY), pretty soon you will find yourself working ahead of schedule. The key is to just keep chipping away at your topics and drafts every day. Here is a typical writing schedule for me on any given week for Huntress At Home:
Monday: Proofread & post
Wednesday: Take photographs & create graphics
Thursday: Proofread & post
Saturday: Chip away at whatever needs doing
Of course, this can change depending on the day, but the point is I try to do a little bit each day instead of waiting for a big chunk of time to get a whole post done. Some days I get more done than others, but I’m always chipping away. Some days it comes down to the wire, other days, I’m 5 days ahead of schedule. (I blame the variance on the unpredictable nature of being a SAHM to a 10-month-old.)
One last tip: Don’t ever think you will get back to an idea later. Keep your phone or a notebook handy so that you can write down a topic or title idea any time it strikes you. Chances are, if you wait until you actually sit down to write before you make notes on an idea, you will draw a blank.
And that’s it! If you brainstorm, draft, and just start you will soon find yourself generating a lot more material with a lot less stress.
Do you have any additional tips for de-stressing the writing process? I’d love to hear them. Happy writing!