For the past eight months, I’ve written 10-13 blog posts and articles a week.
No, I’m not crazy or torturing myself. I love writing. I write 3-4 times a week on this site, another 2-3 times a week on From Left to Write, and freelance at various places on the web. I get to do something I enjoy while earning income from it. It’s a win-win.
Recently a friend of mine asked how I was able to write so often. While loving what I do makes it more fun, producing that much content week after week can be very challenging. I’ve learned a few tricks that keep me productive without getting burned out. (That’s not to say there aren’t times I take on too much and get burned out, but that’s another post.)
How to Be a Productive Writer
You thought I was going to say something magical, didn’t you? Nope. When I started blogging, I hated hearing this advice. I fought it with every fiber of my nonconformist being. Once my youngest started preschool, I sat my butt in my in my comfy wheeled chair four mornings a week and started typing. This is my only uninterrupted time to write so I didn’t want to waste it.
Writing everyday isn’t easy. Some mornings I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. Other days, I bang randomly on my keyboard. Hoping that inspiration would flow from my fingertips. Whether it’s banging or tapping, eventually the words flow into some cohesive ideas.
I don’t write everyday, but I do write every weekday. Sometimes I pull out my laptop on the weekend late at night if I’m feeling particularly inspired.
I’ve trained myself to write every morning that I feel odd when I don’t sit at my desk with a cup of coffee. Which leads me to the next tip.
Establish a routine
Even though my office is down the hall from my bedroom, I get dressed every day. I make breakfast and a cup of coffee in my favorite mug before walking it to my office. Which, according to our apartment floor plan is the breakfast nook. I wake up my computer and do a brain dump in my calendar.
Then, I write.
This routine trains my brain and my body. I know that when I sit down with my cup of coffee, that it’s time to write. My morning routine may vary depending if the kids have school that day, but sitting down with my cup of coffee is my signal.
I write best in the morning, so I’ve created a positive routine for that time of the day. If you write best in the evenings, maybe you can treat yourself to a small piece of chocolate as you sit down to write. Whatever it is, pick something that makes you feel good. Associate this good feeling with writing.
Start a swipe file
Used in marketing, swipe files are a collection of scripts and sales letters. Writers need a file of article topics and blog ideas. When I have no idea what to write next, I pull up my swipe file. For example, when my friend Abby asked how I managed to juggle blogging and kids, she gave me the idea for this post. I added it to my swipe file.
No matter what my original idea was, I try to make the idea more specific. Instead of “spring makes me happy,” I write down “5 Reasons Spring Makes Me a Better Mom.” Instead of “my favorite books to read,” write about “Why I Love These Beach Reads and You Will Too!” Same ideas, but more refined. Once you starting thinking about your topics in this way, you’ll see ideas everywhere!
My version of a swipe file lives on Evernote, a free note taking app. It lives on my smart phone and I use the web version on my desktop. That means I have access it whenever an article idea pops in my head. I have to capture it right away or it’ll disappear. Because I write for different websites on different types of topics, I keep different swipe files for each site for easy reference.
Create an editorial calendar
What is this mythical editorial calendar? It just means planning out when you want to publish each article. For the sites where I freelance, I have the same deadline every week. I know that every Monday, I need to turn in an article. I write the due date on my calendar or add it to Asana, a free online project manager. (Need a planner? Here’s a list of planners I love.)
For your own blog, decide how often you want to publish. Once, twice, three times, daily? Once you decide on the frequency, pick the specific days you will publish and stick to it.
If you want to get even more specific, allott specific topics to certain days. For example, on Mondays you write about an adventure from your weekend; Wednesdays could be a recipe; Fridays, you share your favorite things. I’ve tried this method but it doesn’t work for me, though I try to publish one food-related post each week.
You can also create monthly themes to guide your topics. Whatever you decide, sit down once a week (or once a month if you’re more organized than me) and plan out your posts for the entire week (month).
Unplug at least one day a week
Writing as much content as I do isn’t easy. I could easily sit at my computer all week, trying to write. But I don’t. Writing is hard work, and we need to allow our brains to relax. I take the weekend off and unplug from social media as much as I can. I read, binge watch House of Cards until the wee hours, nap (much needed after a Netflix hangover), or bake.
Go out and live life so you can something to write about come Monday!
I know you’ve heard all of this before. These are not new tips or ideas. You’ve probably read other articles with similar tips. Why? Because they work! The key is trying them out on a consistent basis and adjust them so they work for you and your life.
There’s no magic pill for writing 13 blog posts and articles a week. Make writing a priority and it will get done.
What tips would you add to this list?