You sit and stare blankly at your computer screen. You put your fingers on the keyboard and 10 minutes later……NOTHING. You’re still staring at a blank screen. You rack your brain for your next great idea. You might even come up with an idea or two. But after a few minutes you move on to whatever distraction will allow you to forget about the fact that you really need to write a blog post.
Dictionary.com defines prolific as the following: producing in large quantities or with great frequency;
Your fear that your content sucks might be holding you back from producing what you’re actually capable of. There’s no need to fear. It’s actually not that complicated to be a prolific blogger. You just have to develop a few consistent habits.
1. Write First Thing in the Morning
Many people who do creative work have noted that their creativity as its peak right when they wake up. Because there’s very little on our minds first thing in the morning, we tend to be more expressive. Our words tend to flow because we haven’t become caught up in the day to day nonsense of our to-do list.
2. Don’t Check Your Email
Sid Savara wrote a really great post on why you shouldn’t check your email first thing in the morning. Email is a giant time suck and unless you’re Jack Bauer, World war III is not going to erupt in your inbox. The problem with checking email first thing in the morning is that you waste time that your mind is most creative on something administrative. Wait a few hours before you check email.
3. Shut off All Distractions
While this might be completely obvious, many of us are completely guilty of chasing “shiny things.” Shut down facebook, tweetdeck, skype and anything else that could distract you from getting your writing done. Some people even recommend unplugging your computer from the internet. With nothing to distract you, you’ll find that you not only get more done, you’ll tend to work much faster.
4. Use a Distraction Free Writing Tool
A distraction free writing tool is essentially a bare bones word processor that allows you to work in full screen mode where all you see is the text you are writing against a black screen. It has extremely limited editing functionality and forces you to focus solely on writing. The problem with writing drafts in wordpress is that you can get distracted by all the bells and whistles. People tend to spent time on things like formatting and layout before they finish their content. Some distraction free writing tools are WriteRoom and MacJournal.
5. Don’t Edit While You Write
Editing while you write is a trap that will really slow you down. Remember that you can always go back and edit something. The key is to get the core ideas of your post flushed out. They call it a first draft for a reason.
6. Write as Fast As You Can
When I spoke with Sean Platt, he actually mentioned writing as fast as you can. This is actually incredibly useful because it causes you to put fingers to keyboard and let the words flow. In fact, it’s how I used to write a blog post consistently in 20 minutes or less.
7. Write When You are in the Zone
If there’s one thing that will send your blogging productivity through the roof it’s this. You’ve probably experienced what is simply known as a state of “flow” before. It’s when it seems completely effortless to get your writing done. I recommend doing as much writing as you can when you are in the zone.
8. Go Surfing/Running/Skiing
If all you do is sit in front of the computer all day, then it’s safe to say your productivity will be subpar. The problem is that sitting in front of a computer is not that inspiring. You need to find a way to disconnect. For me that’s surfing. For other’s it’s running or any other form of exercise that allows them to reach a state of presence. It might seems strange that the best way to think of ideas for a blog post is to go do something that gets your mind completely off of blogging. You’re essentially free of resistance to the flow of ideas when you disconnect.
9. Keep a List of Blog Post Ideas
I usually have a list of ideas that I keep hand at any time. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas I recommend spending some time in the copyblogger archives and taking notes on each idea you might have. You can also check out this post on Problogger on the different types of stories you could write.
10. Listen to Music While You Write
I find that listening to music while I write makes it really easy to write much faster. I tend to prefer techno music or something that doesn’t have too many lyrics because the lyrics can distract you. On the flip side, good music with inspiring lyrics will often result in new ideas.
11. Remember That You Don’t Have to Publish Everything
I think we have this ridiculous idea that we’re under some sort of obligation to publish every single thing that we write. My journaling software is full of false starts, unfinished posts, and introductory paragraphs. Oddly enough I’ll find myself using those weeks later to complete a blog post. If you realize that you don’t have to publish everything you’ll feel more of a sense of freedom when you write.
12. Write Something Everyday
This advice has been something that many people have questioned. I find that writing something everyday is a great way to improve your productivity as a blogger. Even if you write a paragraph, it still keeps you in the habit of writing. I’ve found that what happens when you write every single day is that you develop momentum. I’m at the point where I have to make an attempt to write something everyday. I don’t produce a masterpiece everyday and somedays I’ll write three sentences and stop. Oddly enough the incomplete things I write end up later on being a piece of the puzzle in other blog posts
13. Write Without a Goal
Stream of consciousness writing is a really great way to let your words flow. This is really best for the days that you have no idea what you want to write about. Oddly enough this might actually help you come up with new ideas for your next topic.
14. Don’t Worry About Finishing Your Post
Just like you don’t have to publish everything, you don’t have to finish everything you start. Don’t be afraid to start because you don’t know how you’re going to end. Where you start isn’t necessarily where you’re going to end up. Sometimes leaving a post incomplete is the best thing you can do.
15. Let Your Ideas Bake
Sometimes ideas just need time to bake. I’ve had great ideas for a blog post, come up with the title, put fingers to keyboard and stared blankly at the screen. I’ve found that those ideas just need time to bake. It might take sleeping on it, coming back to it in a week or two, or just waiting for it to be ready. Once you’ve let the idea bake, it becomes really easy to hammer out the post.
You have it in you to be as prolific as F.Scott Fitzgerald. Just don’t pick up any of his other habits.