I just realized something that is very obvious to most people.
Blogging is hard work.
Hell, not just blogging. Writing is hard work. Getting word after word onto a blank page can be like pulling teeth out of a starving hare’s mouth. But you do it.
Do you know why you do it? Because you have to. You have to because if you stop for a day, a week, or a month, it’s going to make it that much harder to come back to it. So you write. Word after word to get a post finished so you can hit that beautiful publish button and move on.
Hitting that publish button can be more important than anything you write, research or think about. If you don’t hit that publish button then you hit the “quit” button or the “discard” button or the “save as draft” button. If you publish, you may not be happy with what you’ve written, but you know what – you have that much more reason to do better the next time, and the next time and the next time.
My Old Music Blog
For 2 years I wrote for my own electronic music blog, Off Kilter Future Music (OKFM). It’s still live (you can visit it here), but I haven’t written anything for it in a few months now. The reason I stopped doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I kept it going for 2 years straight.
The key was: don’t care and keep publishing.
Some weeks I was publishing 3 or 4 posts, sometimes long-winded album reviews, sometimes a 100-word description of a track I barely listened to. Some weekends I’d be sitting around and think, “I haven’t published anything in 5 days” and I’d quickly throw something together – image, SoundCloud embed, 100 words, publish!
I’m not saying this course of action produced the best content but it forced me to keep going. You wouldn’t see Rollingstone’s writers pulling anything like this (eh, maybe you would – they’re getting pretty shoddy). What this strategy did do for me was motivate me. By keeping my blog fresh, I was pushed to think of new ideas and keep moving stalwartly through any creative obstacles I faced.
If You Need A Formula, So Be It
With OKFM, I could publish at the drop of a hat. I had my system down. Content, format, distribute.
My Twitter feed was full of new singles, albums, and music videos to write about so finding content was not a problem.
My format was easy. Image, 100+ words, SoundCloud or YouTube embed.
Then post to Facebook. 1 in 5 of my posts would get picked up and I’d get a good amount of traffic from this method alone. I would also email directly any artists I covered and they would always promote it.
This system worked perfectly for a music blog, but you’re writing for a different industry. I understand. The point is, you need to nail down a system like this for producing your own content in your own niche. I’m not saying you need to churn and burn content that’s all the same. This system you create is here to help you when you’re stuck. It’s to get you through the thick when you need it. Even if you’re goal is to publish just once a month, you may still need a system in place to help.
It sounds cliche, but it’s the most motivating thing I tell myself when I’m stuck in “save to draft” mode. Writing is one of those things that gets easier the more you do it (that’s most things, isn’t it?).
It’s so true for writing though. Even if you don’t like my advice to publish no matter what, you should still be writing. Sit down at your desk or notepad and produce words.
Write the first words that come to your mind. Keep going. Sometimes you need to squeeze out all the subconscious junk before the really good stuff comes forth. Word barf. Do it. Just vomit words all over that blank page. Get them out now before they burrow inside you and stay forever. Go!
Maybe you should lessen the distractions around you while you’re at it. Go somewhere ugly or uninviting like the shared laundry room of your apartment building. Tell yourself I’m not leaving until I write 500 words.
I’m not kidding.
When you’re struggling with writing, you’ve got to get physical with your strategy! Environment has a huge effect on productivity. I love hitting the full screen button in WordPress when I’m writing a post. It eliminates all on-screen distractions and there’s that nice motivating 2-liner at the bottom of the page: Just write.
This post is me taking my own advice. I was stuck and then said to myself, “just publish something”. Who cares who reads it (I care), who cares if it means anything, just write it, and that’s what I did. I just wrote it.
Stop “saving to draft” and start publishing. It will get easier and you will get better.