Consistency is important in blogging. It does not matter if you are bad at writing, have nothing to write or nobody reads your blog. What matters is whether you write on a predictable schedule - once a month, once a week, once a year, one per day etc. If you do not have a schedule you are more likely to fall off from sticking to blogging. I had written before, I always struggled to write regularly. But since the start of this year, I have been blogging to a schedule (once a week) and have been successful with that. This post looks into some of the challenges that I faced and things that I have incorporated to stick to a schedule.
Make Writing a Habit
Writing posts was hard and I always procrastinated on it. It often took me more than a week to complete a post. There’s a saying, If it hurts, do it more often - So to make writing easy I had to write more often.
I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.
Till a year back I struggled to find topics to blog. I did not find any ‘cool thing’ that was worth blogging. Not much has changed even now on doing ‘cool things’. The only thing that changed was that I decided to write every day - no matter what I do or don’t do.
I have always struggled to find topics to blog, but then I realized all I need is to pay attention to things that I do daily
A year back I asked John Somnez from SimpleProgrammer the same question.
Though I did not get a reply from John, it kept me thinking. Late last year I started a Daily challenge of ‘Generating at least one blog topic a day’ for a month. I did not have to write anything, just find a topic to blog and add it to a OneNote list. I did this for a month and found that I had enough topics to write on. Since the challenge did not have anything to do with writing, I did not restrict my thoughts. This is when I realized that it is not the lack of topics that I don’t blog, but the fear of writing. That’s when I started the ‘Write Everyday’ daily challenge.
This is one of the most important things that I found to be able to write posts regularly - Write Everyday. Yes every day, no matter what happens, I write at least one line towards a post. Since the goal is to Write just one line for a blog post, I hardly miss this goal. Keeping the goal small and simple is a trick that I picked from the book Mini Habits and find it useful. You can follow this for anything that you want to make a habit.
Make it Visible
Seeing something progressing to completion helps me to get it done faster. I used to write elsewhere and then copy it to my blog and publish it. This did not give me a sense of progression. I now have a draft post workflow, integrated with my blogging platform. I can preview this blog along with the draft posts on my laptop. This helps give a sense of progression and also makes the end goal visible.
Making your goal clear and visible helps you achieve it faster
I also use this to keep track of new post ideas. Whenever I find a topic to blog, I add it as a draft. I add bullet points to the post whenever I get more thoughts on that topic. Once there are enough points to write about, I work on that post.
Make Blogging All About Writing
The last thing that I want is to get stuck with mundane repetitive tasks of publishing a post to get in the way of writing. The more regular I became in writing, I started noticing a lot of repetitive tasks in my blogging workflow. When you do any activity repetitively you notice tasks that you do over and over again. I started modifying my blog engine for my needs and to reduce manual effort.
Write in Advance
Having posts ready to be published is helpful as it gives the flexibility to slack a bit when in need. It’s a great feeling to have blog posts ready to be published (right now I have posts ready for a month). I modified my blogging engine to support publishing posts on future dates. This helps me set publishing dates in the future for posts and it gets automatically deployed on the day. Automating the publishing helped make blogging more about writing. I can forget about it as soon as I complete a post by specifying the date I want it to be published and be rest assured that it will get published.
Make Writing Accessible
You never know when you have that free time and want to blog. Maybe it’s while traveling, or waiting in a queue or at your work desk. You might be offline or connected Making it possible to write from irrespective of the kind of device (laptop, mobile, tablet) and connectivity was key for me. I have my draft posts synchronized through Dropbox and available on all my devices. This helps use all the pockets of time that I get for myself.
These are the things that have helped me pick a schedule and follow it. I have been successful in publishing one post per week for the past 10 months and want to keep at it going forward. Now that I am able to publish regularly, I want to improve the speed at which I write posts. Though I reduced the time from over a week to days, I still find this too long and want to reduce it to a day. Modifying the way images are added, optimized and served is also something that I am trying to optimize currently. Do you have a blog? If not start one and stick to a schedule that works for you!