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5 Tips to Blog Faster

Posted By Ellen Jackson 20th of December 2016 Be Productive 30

5 Tips to Blog Faster | On ProBlogger.net

This is a guest contribution from ProBlogger Expert Ellen Jackson of Potential Psychology.

Running a business is a time-suck of epic proportion. Planning, administration, product development, sales, delivery, email, bookkeeping, social media, marketing. It takes time. Throw in a family and you flit from demand to crisis without a moment to reheat that cup of tea you made three hours ago.

Your blog post – that important but not urgent task – is often the victim of the go-go-go life. You know it’s important for but there it is, languishing at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list day after day after day.

‘I must write that blog post.’

‘I really should write a blog post.’

‘Today I will write a blog post.’

‘Tomorrow I will write that blog post…’

Sound familiar?

Not batching, slogging.

I am in awe of bloggers and business owners who casually comment, ‘I write a blog post in 15 to 20 minutes and I batch them. I just sit and write six or seven in a row.’

You what?

Blog posts take me hours. Not minutes. Hours. Write one and I’m creatively spent. I need to lie down, take a walk or faff about on Facebook for 30 minutes to recover. By then a crisis has flared up. Forget batching.

I’m not so hot on the ‘stream of consciousness’ approach either. It’s great for therapy but no-one wants to read my therapy. Not even me.

Despite this I write regularly and professionally. I get it done and I’m getting faster with practice. I’ve also picked up a tip or five from my occupation, psychology.

So here’s what works to write blog posts faster – and why.

1. Have a plan

I used to procrastinate until the day before my publish date (or even the day of) then wait for inspiration to hit and the words to flow. It doesn’t work. It’s slow and frustrating. To get faster I need to know what I’m going to write. Better yet I need some bullet points and links to research I’ll need.

Why it works: In psychology task planning is called an ‘implementation intention’. Its complex and uses the front part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex. Implementation intentions reduce procrastination. Without a plan your brain says, ‘Oops, too hard’ when faced with a big, vague task like writing a blog post. It wanders off to find somewhere else to focus its attention. With a plan you ease its path to your goal, making resistance – and procrastination – less likely.

2. Make planning a separate exercise

Planning then writing in one period is brain overload. Break it into two separate tasks and you increase your efficiency and produce a better result. I like to brainstorm and plan over a coffee at a favourite café. I’ll write later in my office at my laptop.

Why it works: Cues in our environment trigger our habits. Keep looking at the same four walls and you’ll keep thinking in the same old way. To break through a creative block, arrive at fresh ideas and then get writing, mix it up and work in different environments. Large spaces with good natural light and fresh air are great for prompting new thoughts and ideas.

3. Write for 15 minutes a day

Fellow ProBlogger contributor Kelly Exeter put me on to this. Once I’ve got my plan I sit at the laptop, take note of the time, put away distractions and write for 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter what you write. In fact Kelly suggests that if you’re stuck, just keep writing ‘I don’t know what to write here’ until an idea arrives. Try it, it works. What’s more, once you start and find your flow you may find that you just keep going until it’s done.

Why it works: Getting started is often the hardest part of any task, particularly one that feels difficult. The good news is that once we’ve started we’re likely to push on until the job is complete. This is called the Zeigarnik Effect. Your brain doesn’t like starting a task and then stopping part way through. It will linger on your unfinished business, making you anxious until the task is done. Get started and your mind will kick in with the motivation you need to keep going.

4. Set a deadline

A joy of being the boss is the flex in your deadlines. Don’t feel like writing today? Do something else instead. There’s plenty of work to do. Except that’s how the important but not urgent blog post is set adrift.

Sitting, thinking and writing is hard work for your brain. It rewards you by prioritizing that task last, letting you off the hook. It’s a short term gain however. The blog post still isn’t written.

I set myself deadlines for every blog post to trick my brain into getting it done. The shorter the deadline, the more focused you are.

Why it works: Motivation is complex, psychologically, but we know for sure that as a deadline approaches our stress levels rise. When our stress levels rise our brain and body is primed for action. We get started and we work hard to get the task done. This is known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law. No deadline? Not enough stress to get you moving. If you’re a conscientious type like me self imposed deadlines will work. If you’re not, find a way to get others to set deadlines for you.

5. Focus on the end result

The anticipation of a holiday is often the best part, right? Imagine yourself lying by the pool, cocktail in hand, responsibility-free. It motivates you to pack and get out of the door.

This works for getting blog posts written too. Generating ideas and writing might feel difficult but don’t focus on that part. Focus on the reward. For me that’s hitting the publish button or sending a finished piece to an editor.  Even better is positive feedback.

Work out where your motivation lies. What’s the reward you get from writing that blog post? Where’s the thrill? Focus on that to get it done.

Why it works: There are two types of goals. Avoidance goals are things to avoid- like losing our audience because we haven’t written a blog post in a month or more. Then there are approach goals. These are the goals that compel us to move forward. Your pool and cocktail vision is an approach goal. The feeling of satisfaction on hitting the publish button is an approach goal. Anything can be an approach goal if you think about it in the right way. Don’t focus on what you’re avoiding. Focus on the good things that come once your task is done.

About Ellen Jackson
Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a psychologist who does things differently. She writes about people and why we do what we do. She coaches, she teaches and she helps workplaces to do the people part better.
Comments
  1. Great post. I only recently got serious about my editorial calendar and I find that the ideas I put down tend to percolate in the back of my brain. Then, when I sit down to write, it actually goes pretty quickly.

    • Yay April! Brain percolation is definitely a thing. It really helps to do that initial high level planning just to allow the thoughts and ideas to come in their own time don’t you think? A great way to write faster.

    • Having an editorial calendar for your blog is a must if you want to be consistent. Most professional bloggers create their blog posts at least 1 month in advance.

      So even if they are busy or on vacation, they can easily schedule their content without missing their posting frequency.

      That’s the beauty of creating an editorial calendar. Also make sure to hire writers and try distraction free writing (or even consider voice to text typing) to blog faster.

      Great tips!

  2. Hey Ellen,

    It would be a great idea to save the time. Writing for 15 minutes can be good.But if you have more time then why don’t you finish the article and then plan for the promotion strategy?

    Setting the deadline can bring an active phase because people get conscious when they have a certain deadline for their work.

    ~Ravi

    • Absolutely Ravi. Writing for 15 minutes is just to get you started. If you commit yourself to writing for that period and that’s all you managed then at least you’ve done something. Most likely though you will get into the groove and write for longer and put your promotion schedule together too. Perfect.

  3. Throw in a family and you flit from demand to crisis without a moment to reheat that cup of tea you made three hours ago

  4. Ellen,

    I’m far to familiar with waiting for inspiration to happen. The problem is, unless you take the time to brainstorm, inspiration will never come. Then you forget to write a blog and panic!

    • Hi Sam. You’re absolutely right. I spent ages working that way and it’s uncomfortable and I’m not sure you get the best results. I certainly don’t. Nothing wrong with subtly forcing a bit of inspiration. Good luck with your blogging!

  5. I think setting a deadline for any your tasks is incredibly important. Parkinson’s law shows that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Jeff Goins from Goins writer often suggests writing daily make blogging faster and smoother. Thanks Ellen for useful tips.

  6. Actually, I have a question that, the title itself says ‘how to blog faster.Right? but just writing 15 minutes a day how could one attain the fast way of blogging?’ This may right or wrong( you are requested to clarify), in my personal opinion I must write at least two posts a day, at the same time, maintain the quality in higher order.
    Is there a solution to balance the quantity equally important to quality?
    ( Please don’t ignore so as not to be against your policy that helping novice bloggers like me.)

    • Great question. The idea behind writing for 15 minutes a day is to get you started if you tend to procrastinate or feel that you don’t have the time to write every day. You might only write for that 15 minutes – which is fine – but more than likely you will get started, write for longer and hopefully even finish what you need to.
      I think finding the balance between quality and quantity depends on your audience and the purpose of your blogging. I try to write for my audience once a week and sometimes I don’t even manage that but my blog posts are long(ish) and require research. Also, I write largely as a passion and to help my audience rather than for marketing purposes, so once a week seems fine. If I was writing shorter, simpler pieces I’d maybe write more frequently. I personally don’t think there is a ‘one size fits all’ goal for blogging. The best strategy is one that works for you, your other commitments, your blogging purpose and your audience.
      I hope that helps.

  7. Great tips, especially no 4. Good for blogging reboot 2017. :)

  8. Hello, Ellen!

    Wow! Too excellent! :)

    Well, if you don’t love writing; leave it!

    Because if you love writing and love the topic that you write on, there’s nothing that will stop you from NOT WRITING.

    And when the love comes, nothing stops us. :)

    But, these all are the good pieces of the advice to follow to let our love get on track with publishing. :)

    ~ Adeel

    • You’re absolutely right Adeel. Writing is a passion for many of us. I need to write but sometimes I let what I think I should be doing get in the way of what I enjoy doing. I’m glad you like the tips. Best of luck with your blogging in 2017.

  9. Ellen thank you so much! i was stuck with my blog and repeatedly i was giving up for my excuses but after finishing this post i will start writing mine. I have found all the ways to keep writing and all the tips are really helpful.
    I liked your tips no 2 most as i was doing both at a same time which made me slower but now i have the solution to be faster. Thanks again you helped a lot :)

    • I’m so glad my tips have helped Sirajum! They have certainly helped me over the years. I always planned and wrote at the same time but I’ve certainly found that it’s much easier, faster and more enjoyable to make them two separate tasks. Good luck with your blogging!

  10. Hey Ellen

    Well, that’s a good idea to writer for 15 minutes, but I would prefer completing he article in one go, specially if we have time to do so, then we should, as it will help us create a marketing plan, which I believe is more important than writing a article.

    BTW, Thanks for the Tips & Keep up the good work.

    ~ Jelina

    • Hi Jelina,

      If you can write and publish and plan in one sitting then go for it! That’s the ideal scenario – just not do-able for everyone, every time. Glad you liked the tips.

  11. I can relate. The kids, business, co-workers, paying bills, and a million other distractions which get in the way of publishing. I can’t always write but when I can, I follow similar steps, do all of my planning up front, and then churn out the article, usually in two sittings. First rough copy, second round polishing it up.

  12. Thanks for the nice tips! I enjoyed all of the them and I’m going to try to put them to use.

    Another tip that happens a lot to me. I noticed that sometimes I need to do what needs to be done, even when I don’t feel like it.

    It’s kind of that dish you don’t want to wash before going to sleep, but you also don’t want to wake up with a sink full of dishes.

    That’s something we tend to procrastinate, not feeling like doing right away, but we feel a lot better after the dishes are washed, or in this case, when the posts are published.

  13. I’ve been telling myself that I need to write more. But I never get to actually write. Will try these tips out, maybe it’ll help me get my post done by next week. I get distracted easily, so I think 15 minutes is doable.

    • I use an electronic sit stand desk. This helps when you get the urge to get up and move after 15-20 minutes. You can go from sitting to standing and vice-versa when your body naturally tells you to change position. Something to consider if you write professionally.

    • 15 minutes is a great place to start Lisander. Hopefully once you’ve started you can keep going. I’ve been really distracted lately with kids home on school holidays but every little bit helps. Good luck with that blog post!

  14. Thank you! So many people advocate “batching” and it just doesn’t work for me no matter how hard I try so I was smiling and nodding through the whole first part of your post. I’m so relieved to know it’s not just me!

    I have never been one to wait for inspiration and write a couple of hours a day, just not blog posts, and I find it hard to switch my thinking from big picture to the next article. So, until a couple of months ago I’d fallen into the habit of putting off the next blog post until the last minute. Now I write the next post a week ahead, which is maybe not perfect, but it surely is a huge improvement.

    • You sound just like me Marquita! I’m still trying to get ahead of the game with my writing schedule. Glad you liked the post. E.

Comments are closed for this post.