I did an interesting calculation today. I worked out that I’d written 107 posts at my own blog, plus 36 posts at other blogs, for a total of 143 (mostly) long posts, produced across four months.
The maths proves that I’m a prolific blogger. Certainly not the most prolific, but I suspect that I write more than most. That doesn’t necessarily mean I spend a lot of time writing posts. In truth, I’ve always been surprised by the amount of time I spend vs. the number of posts I produce. It’s just not as much as you’d think.
I’ve realized that there are five strategies I use to write — what I aim to be, to varying levels of success — value-packed content, really fast. It’s not a skill, nor is it a talent. Writing killer content fast is something any blogger can do. The key is in changing the way you approach the writing process.
What’s so good about writing fast?
If you can write better posts in less time, you’ll be producing more content than you’ve ever been. Alternately, you can produce the same amount of content and have more time left over to do other things you enjoy.
Developing a painless writing habit can also increase your enjoyment of blogging. Creating content is less likely to resemble a chore if you can tackle the task and complete it quickly and with no fuss.
Here are the five strategies I’ve used to become a prolific blogger.
#1 — The scarecrow approach
When settling down to write a post, we usually know what we want to say. The tricky part is knowing how to say it. The scarecrow approach minimizes a lot of this trickiness.
It involves writing what you want to say first, in the form of short sentences or sub-headings encapsulating each of your main points. You add the detail after.
I used this method to write the post you’re reading right now. It started with just the sub-headings. I then fleshed them out by adding an explanation beneath each one.
This method is also ideal for list posts. Write your list with the key points in bold, then flesh out each point in the following paragraph.
The strategy works because you’re breaking down your post into bite-sized chunks. Rather than tackling the post as a whole, you’re concentrating on one point at a time. This method helps me tackle long posts quickly and efficiently.
#2 — Little words, big meaning
Short posts are quick to write, but not necessarily any less profound or valuable than long posts. You can say a lot with just a few words.
If you’ve got an idea for a long blog post, challenge yourself to convey the same information in 200 words or less. You’ll be forced to strip down the post to its essence. You might discover that you simply don’t need to add any more words afterwards — that anything else would be filler.
Profound ideas often come in the smallest of containers. The best part: you can write and publish a short post in a matter of minutes.
Photo by la_cola_de_mi_perro.
#3 — Take your foot off the brake
One common cause of slow and painful writing is actually slow and painful editing. If you hesitate after each sentence you’ve written, finger trembling above the backspace key, you won’t enjoy writing and you won’t produce good work.
Set yourself this challenge: don’t hit delete a single time until you’ve finished the first draft of your post. Yes, some of your sentences will not make sense. Yes, the post will include some horrific spelling mistakes. That’s OK. Now that you’ve written it, you can edit to your heart’s content. What’s important is that you don’t let the two mix.
Once you learn to accept mistakes and imperfections in the first draft, you’ll begin to write more freely — and quickly.
#4 — Skip the formalities
In my experience, starting is the hardest part of writing a blog post. Many of us are so unsure about what to write that we choose anything over nothing — the number one cause of a rambling introduction that’s all-too-easy to ignore.
My solution is to skip it. I started writing this post at ‘The scarecrow approach’. With each sub-heading, there’s no mystery about what I have to write next. I have to explain what I mean. When there’s no uncertainty, you can get started straight away.
Once you’ve written the body of the post, you’ve got plenty of fodder for your introduction. Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Explain what you’re going to say and why it matters. Your introduction will always be better if you know exactly what’s to follow.
#5 — Change the format
There’s a certain anxiety that comes with composing posts inside your blog software. The publish button is never far out of your line of sight. It can be hard to resist the temptation to get the post over and done with by publishing it before it’s been polished. Alternately, it can make us feel pressured to write something publishable straight away.
Composing your posts offline — in a Word processor, text file, a laptop or with pen and paper — can help sever the direct link between writing and publishing. It can help you concentrate on the act of writing alone, without worrying about the post’s public debut. Take away some of the worry and your writing process will be less stressful. This generally makes it faster and more fluid, too.
A bonus tip: practice writing posts in advance. If you intend to publish a post in two weeks rather than two minutes, you’ll take a much more relaxed approach to the first draft, knowing that you have plenty of time to revise it. When you check in on the post in a week or so, you might find it doesn’t need as much work as you thought!
Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Subscribe to her feed for more useful blogging advice.