How much time have you spent waiting for “inspiration to strike?”
Waiting for inspiration to strike, is just that, waiting. Inspiration always comes, eventually, but how do you make it come on demand? How do you write every day, and keep it fresh? Bloggers do a lot of multitasking, and truth be told, the work never will cease. Making time for inspiration, and being ready to act upon it, does take a bit of planning, determination and discipline to make it happen. It's doable, and once you get in the habit, you'll be on the path to discovering a whole realm of inspiration and new content.
Knowing we're all busy, here are a few tips and tricks I've learned over the years to getting things done, I noticed they also battle writer's block. Because it turns out, that managing time properly has kept me inspired. Maybe it will for you too.
Make blogging a habit
You'll hear a lot of bloggers advise to only blog when you have something to say. However, I disagree. Waiting for inspiration is risky. Developing a habit where you can find inspiration on command is more valuable. One of my artist friends once told me that the secret to his success is that he treats his painting like a job. Every morning he gets up and paints. Some days it's good, others could use more work. But it's the action of showing up which enables him to be ready when inspiration strikes. This I find to be true with blogging. I decided to wait for “inspiration” with my blog Shoe Kitten. And you know what? I haven't posted since last year. When I stopped writing on IFB, it was hard to cough up posts every now and then. Now, I am writing every day, it's a lot easier.
Habits work. Make blogging your ritual. You'll find that it becomes a part of you, and you'll be more open to inspiration.
Make yourself accountable
The world isn't going to end if you don't blog. Seriously. So how do you stay accountable? If it's your job, then you have to pay the bills. That's accountability. If it's your dream to make it as a blogger, there is another path to accountability. Making your consequences for not blogging compelling enough to make it a priority could be one way to make sure the work gets done regularly.
Be grateful for blogging (stay enthusiastic)
Gratitude goes a long way when it comes to blogging. When you are grateful for the opportunity to share your creative endeavors with an audience (no matter what size) it makes you happy. When you are happy to do something, when blogging give you joy, it's easier to do the work. You don't have to force yourself to blog.
Don't say, “I have to blog every day.” Say, “I GET to blog every day.” That little mind shift makes a massive difference when it comes to making priorities and keeping up your energy to get the job done.
Set a schedule and stick to it
I love schedules. For some strange reason. Consistency gives you parameters of when you work can be done. I write my posts by noon, and spend the rest of the day working on other blog related tasks. When I worked a full time job, I set aside time after work and Sundays to do all my posting for the week. Make your schedule clear and part of your routine and it will help you maintain your blogging habit.
Give yourself deadlines
Whether it be a daily deadline, or a weekly deadline. Deadlines give you a sense of accountability, a sense of urgency, and they can be incorporated in your schedule. Many bloggers will tell you there are optimal times for posting to ensure success of the post. Maybe your audience is awake at 2am? Or maybe you'd want to hit that Europe 5-6pm/East Coast noon/West Coast 9am slot which seems to work for several time zones.
Close your email, Twitter and Facebook tabs
If you're anything like me, and you're probably not, but do you have a lot of tabs open in your browser? Do you check your email 50 times an hour? Facebook and Twitter are productivity time-sucks as well. When you're writing, you need to stay focused, so unless you are digging out a quote from your email, close that email tab, or quit your email program. Your email will be there when you're done.
Plan your editorial calendars ahead of time
Nothing is a bigger time suck than sitting down and thinking…”What am I going to write about today?” I have wasted MANY hours “researching” topics (ie. wandering around the internet) when usually it takes me about 40 minutes (maximum) to create an editorial calendar once a week. I may change my mind about what to post about, but I will always have that backup idea every single day. Editorial calendars will keep you focused, and save you time.
Outline your post structure when you start your post
I learned this in college, when writing an essay it is suggested to outline your points before starting. This can be done in posts as well. I just use bullets, and write down my key points before beginning. It can be as easy as a list with a few words. It makes it easier to stay on track and ensures that you don't leave anything out. Plus it saves you time because you already know what you are going to say.
Write your posts at least one day in advance
I don't always get to do this, but when I do, my days are a lot easier. Since tomorrow never dies, there is work to do every day, but writing your posts in advance helps keep the anxiety and stress away. You already have your work done, now you can work on the next day. It does help lower stress and increase productivity.
Write your posts in batches
One contributor recently sent two months of posts in advance because she is traveling. I was really impressed. While I've never done that, I do have segments where I write in batches, when I know I can get some quiet time to focus, and schedule them out. That way it opens more time to focus on other blogging projects like promoting, networking, and hey, even relaxing.
Write when you are fired up and inspired
If you write regularly, you'll have a good habit for when you're not inspired. However, when it strikes, and your skills are sharp, oh boy! You can really be ready to let it rip. I've written posts in thirty minutes which have done well under this spell of inspiration. And in this day and age news comes up that we have to jump on right away. If have all your ducks in row, it's easier to take on these times and you can save your other posts for later.
Keep an inspiration folder of potential post ideas
Whether it be on Pinterest (you can set your “post idea boards” to secret to keep the surprise for your readers) or in a document. I keep mine on a yellow pad as I see things around, or I email myself posts that have interesting ideas and attach the link in my editorial calendar. This is so when you sit down to do your editorial calendar, you're not starting from scratch every week.
Do your post research ahead of time
Nothing is more anxiety causing than, setting yourself a deadline, and not giving yourself enough time to research. Create a research folder and hold onto the information you need to make your points in your posts. That way when it comes time to write it out, you can easily access your research and you're not left sifting through the Internets or the library, or magazines to give your post substance.
Schedule your posts and tweets
A lot of people say not to schedule your tweets because you'll sound like a robot. Well, you can do a mix of scheduled tweets and live tweets to mix it up. If you have your posts ahead of time, there's no reason not to schedule posting, and no reason not to schedule tweets for them. Because you know what you are going to say. That way, if you have a particularly busy day, and there is a lot on your mind, you still have fresh tweets going out. Trust me, scheduling tweets when you are inspired is a lot better than forcing tweets when you're busy or leaving your social media abandoned.
Let your post ideas incubate in your mind before sitting down and writing them
If you have an idea of what you are going to write. Let it marinate in your mind before writing. This way when you sit down to write, you'll have a better idea of what you would like to say… it helps battle writer's block. Also, if you let your posts become a part of your consciousness, it'll open you up to be more personal and more clear when you do write. And you'll write faster.
I've always had a lot of energy, and now that I'm 30 weeks pregnant, for the first time in my life, I'm experiencing exhaustion all day. It's rough. But if I try to force myself to work, it takes 2-3 times longer to do a task, but if I take breaks, take a power nap in the afternoon, it helps to stay focused. Taking walks help, doing anything to break up the routine helps to maintain focus. Your brain needs a break to stay fresh, so don't be afraid to take a break to get the job done faster.