It’s the night before your promised posting day. And you got…nothing.
In fact, you’re convinced that the blank screen in front of you is mocking you with it’s pristine emptiness. You’re spending so much time worrying about writing a blog post that it’s never finished, and your loyal readers are left wondering what happened.
If this is ringing a bell, let me say this first – it’s okay. It happens to all of us. Really.
And I can guarantee you that it’s going to happen again. Luckily, I’ve got a few handy tips for the next time so you can worry less and write more.
1. Write your headline first and last
That’s right. First AND last.
Maybe your mind works a little differently, but I find that writing a headline at the beginning – anything related to a topic of interest, really – does two things: it gets you started and it gives you focus.
It doesn’t have to be great, as you’ll probably end up tossing it. But doing it will help get your mind in the write place. (Groan…) Seriously though, even if you just grab a famous quote that has nothing to do with what you want to write about, you’ve gotten past that first step, and that’s incredibly important.
When you’re finished the body of your post, you can come back to it. Does it still fit the actual post itself? If you’ve escaped your original topic completely, find the focus of what the blog post is about and re-write your headline to reflect that.
2. Write when you’re inspired
But wait! I needed this yesterday! you’re saying. Uh huh. And thinking about that is really going to get you moving. When it comes to writing regular posts, there’s really two ways of doing it.
The ideal method means giving yourself a scheduled block of time every week – or better, every day – to write. Tell yourself that this is your writing time. And, most importantly, stick to it, even if you just end up writing gibberish so you can get back to the water cooler. You may just find yourself getting used to the idea, and you’ll get better at being prepared with something fresh and new.
But chances are if you’re stuck at a posting deadline with nothing to show, you’re probably the type to write when you feel like it. And that doesn’t always work for your perfect posting schedule.
While you should be writing regularly (and you’ll likely have more success if you do), it’s okay to just let the inspiration hit you when the getting is good sometimes. And that usually happens when you’re in the middle of something else.
If this is you, get into the habit of carrying around a pen and paper if you don’t have regular access to your computer. And write when the idea is fresh in your mind, even if it’s still half-formed, even if you have to drop what you were doing.
When you really, really don’t have the time to write, get down as much as you can while the ideas are coming, and put it somewhere safe until you do. But even better, keep writing. Which leads me to my next point…
3. Once you’ve decided to write, keep going
Don’t stop to edit. Don’t stop to edit. Don’t stop to edit.
When you’re in the writing groove, one of the worst things you can do is to go back and pick over what you’ve just written while you’re still writing.
I’ll be honest, I’m bad for this too. Here’s the problem – if you have a half-formed idea in your head and you haven’t gotten it down, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose whatever you were thinking. And it might be something good.
Keep writing until you’re done. That doesn’t mean until the post itself is finished, but it does mean going until your train of thought has run its course. Then actively tell yourself that you’re going to go back and edit. And if you’re like me, you’ll end up catching another train and you’ll get back to finishing the post. Or at least a first draft.
4. Let it sit for a day
I know we’re talking about the night before it’s due, but writing is sometimes like making bread dough – you have to let it sit for a few hours. Overnight is better.
Check Twitter. Take a shower. Get away from that piece of writing. When you’ve finished your first draft, your mind is still too wrapped up in it to really see the big picture. Even if you’ve edited it and you’re feeling good, give yourself at least two or three hours away from it before you review it and click “Publish”. It’s amazing what stands out with fresh eyes, and I can almost guarantee that you will see paragraphs and sentences that need re-working.
What do you do when you’re stuck with a close deadline? How do you start a new blog post? Got any posts that you wish you’d sat on for a day before publishing them? I wanna hear it!