This post is by Steve of Do Something Cool.
One of the first things I learned when I started blogging was to create a Word document to write down all my blog post ideas. That way I could always find something to write about.
After a few months, I had dozens of ideas and titles to work from. Three years on, and that list has grown into the hundreds.
This seems to be common for bloggers. We all have a long list of blog post topics. Some bloggers I’ve talked to have over five hundred. At some point though, you have to question the benefit behind having a list that long.
The overwhelming list
A few months ago I sat down to write a post, just like any other day. I opened up my list to choose an idea and was struck by how long I’d let the list get.
I realized that most of those ideas were just being wasted. I generally write about 400-500 words a day. My blog posts are roughly 800-1000 words. It would take me over a year to get through this list, and that doesn’t even include other ideas I would add throughout the year.
There are so many potential ideas I’m not using.
I decided to go through my list of blog post ideas and clear them out. Think of it as a kind of spring cleaning.
Instead of writing 400-500 words, I sat down and typed 5000. That’s ten times my normal amount for a day of writing.
As a result, I wrote enough to create six or seven blog posts. All in one day!
Now I clean out my list of blog post ideas about once a month. Usually, I block off about four or five hours of solid writing. Often that means about 5000-6000 words in a day. The last time I did this I wrote 10,000 words in one day, which was very challenging.
The number of posts you can get done this way is amazing.
Here’s what to do
It only takes a little preparation to clean out your list. Set your date to write a couple of days in advance. Make sure you can spend at least three hours writing. It works best if you can write continuously; I’ve noticed my most productive time writing happens in the third hour.
A few days before you write, go through your blog post list and pull out about a dozen of those ideas. For each of those posts, create a Word document. Write the title at the top and create a general outline. This should take about five minutes per post. Also, as you go through your list, delete any ideas you have no interest in writing any more.
Create two folders on your desktop. Put your unwritten posts with their outlines in the first one. The second one is for all the ones you’ll finish as you write. I named the first folder “Start Here” and the second one “Finished Posts”, but you can name them whatever you want.
When the day arrives to start writing, make sure to start right away so you have enough time to get as much writing done as possible.
It’s important to track your progress, so as soon as you start writing set a timer to go off in sixty minutes. When it goes off, stop writing and count up all the words you’ve written to make sure you’re on the right track. Then take a five-minute break to walk around a bit before getting back to writing.
Keep writing in sixty-minute chunks until you reach your word goal. In my opinion, it’s best to set a high word goal. The focus is to get as many words down as possible, so don’t spend too much time editing. This day is about getting as many words down as you can so that you clear out your list. Edit later.
Also, keep in mind you don’t have to completely finish a post before moving on to the next one. It’s about keeping the pace of your writing high to get through a lot of posts. If one post isn’t working, move on to the next one. It might just be an indication that the idea isn’t all that good.
Once you’ve written all you can on a post, save and move it from the first folder to the “Finished Posts” folder. By the end of the day, this folder will be full of posts you’ve crossed off your list.
Your blog posts in the finished folder will be rough drafts so you’ll still need to edit and polish them later. But now you’ll have a bunch of posts mostly ready to publish. Plus, you’ll have several you can get ready to send off as guest posts.
You might be surprised what you can come up with when you clear out your list. The last time I did some spring cleaning, I wrote about an idea I’d been sitting on for months. After I finished it, I realized the potential behind it: that post turned out to be one of my more popular. You just never know what will happen when you clean out that list once in a while!
Steve is the writer behind Do Something Cool where he blogs about travel, motivation, personal growth and adventure. He’s always looking for ways to make life more interesting. Get tips on living life to the fullest through his Facebook fan page and Twitter.