I have written for more than 200 days this year. My goal is 300. Some days I write a little, others more. Whatever the case, my goal is to write something. This post is a recount of the 5 best strategies that have helped me so far.
I’m not sure if I’ll hit my goal of 300 days of writing. If I do, it will be a tight finish.
Nonetheless, I have written most days this year — something I never thought I would be able to do as I have failed more website projects that I can count, all because of a lack of consistent content output.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, the strategies I’m about to reveal will help. I never thought I would be a consistent writer, but with these 5 strategies that suddenly became the case.
1) Work on your ideas before you sit down to write
Writing is hard at times.
But it’s really hard if you don’t have anything concrete to write about.
Great ideas don’t pop into your head just because you have decided to write. You need to cultivate these ideas — and you need to do it away from your keyboard.
Here are some of the tools I use to come up with ideas:
Have a notebook close at all times.
You never know when the next idea may arrive. But one thing is certain — if you don’t write it down, you’ll most likely forget it.
I personally use a notebook called Writing Ideas using the Evernote app on my phone for this. But pick whatever works for you — whether that be a physical notebook or an app on your phone.
Just get something handy that will allow you to capture your ideas as you get them.
Deliberately brainstorm new ideas
Have you ever taken the time to actually brainstorm blog post ideas?
Most website owners don’t do this — which means there’s an opportunity for you to get ahead of the curve.
Set time aside for creative brainstorming of ideas.
Don’t just think about blog posts here and there. Make a conscious decision to brainstorm content ideas.
If you are struggling with your brainstorm, try a google search for blog post ideas and use that as a starting point. This trick always does it for me.
Steal from other websites
“GOOD ARTISTS COPY; GREAT ARTISTS STEAL.” — PICASSO
Trying to come up with content ideas all on your own is foolish. After all, creativity doesn’t happen in isolation.
You need inspiration if you want to come up with great ideas. And just as importantly, you want your content to resonate with your audience.
So how do you achieve this? How do you get inspiration and learn what works for your audience?
Simple — you visit other websites related to yours. And then you steal everything that works.
This doesn’t mean copy-pasting their work — it means learning from their successes and failures. It means absorbing what they are doing and using it on your own site.
2) Writing a little every day is better than writing a lot today
This one is my personal mantra and you may not agree 100% with me on this.
But give it a try and see for yourself. For me, this has been one of the biggest changes, resulting in a huge increase in volume although I don’t attempt to write that much every day.
Here’s why this works:
Writing has to become a habit if you want to write for your website consistently. It has to be part of your day. Part of you.
But forming a habit is hard. You need to rewire your brain to this new activity.
Which means that you’ll struggle in the beginning.
The first few days may be fun and exciting, but that feeling won’t last — and if you want to write every day, you need to learn how to write when you don’t want to too.
So start out small.
Write 100 words today. Another 100 tomorrow. And then 100 every day after that.
You can always ramp up later.
The key isn’t speed today. It’s your long-term pace that matters.
Other writers may write more than you, faster than you. Heck, they may even write better than you. But if you just keep on going at a steady rate, you’ll eventually outrun (outwrite?) all of them.
3) Challenge yourself
If you want to write more often, writing has to become more of a habit for you (see above).
And one of the best ways to create a new habit is with a challenge. Set yourself a challenging goal and a plan for achieving it.
A good starting point is a 30-day writing challenge.
It’s simple. Write every day for 30 days — roughly the time it takes to form a new habit.
Write down your challenge and have a way of measuring your progress. For a daily writing challenge, you can mark completed days on a calendar.
Personally, I print out paper calendars just for this purpose. This way I have a visual representation of my progress. I encourage you to try the same. Print out a calendar for the month and have it laying close to your workstation.
Your challenge is now to fill out every day on the calendar — or at least as many as you can. There’s no shame in missing a day or two — and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you do. Forming a new habit is hard — just make sure skipping days doesn’t become your new habit.
Do this and you’ll improve your writing consistency in just days.
Writing challenges — and challenges in general — have had a huge impact on my life. Try one. I’m positive you won’t regret it.
4) Pick a time to write
It’s very hard to make writing a habit unless it is anchored in something.
What this means is that you need a trigger to prompt your writing.
If you just want to write at some point throughout the day, you’ll most likely forget it some days. And doing something now and then is not how you form a new habit.
Instead, you need a specific trigger that acts as a reminder.
A habit can be anchored in many different things. It can be the first thing you do in the morning or after getting off work. It can be a specific time of day, or some action you always do, like cooking, showering, checking mail or whatever.
Your habit — which in this case is writing — just needs to be anchored in some trigger.
At the moment I do the majority of my writing first thing after eating breakfast, before taking a shower. This way — no matter how my day turns out — I already have completed my writing.
This may not work for you — it may not be possible for you to write in the morning. But that’s up to you to figure out.
And whatever time or action or place it is, just make sure your writing habit is anchored safely in a daily trigger.
5) If everything else fails, go somewhere different
If you are stuck staring at a blank page and none of your ideas seem to help, I have a final strategy that will get the job done: go somewhere else.
Doesn’t really matter where (at least not for me).
Just the act of moving to someplace different seems to help. Go to the park and sit on a bench, use a table at your nearest library, or even the simple act of going to another room may help (seriously, moving from my desktop to laptop helps me ‘unstuck’ myself).
You don’t have to make a big thing out of it. Grab your phone and get out. You won’t type as fast on it as you can on a keyboard — but if you are stuck you aren’t writing at all so this doesn’t matter.
Also, if you are using your phone on a regular basis you’ll most likely be quite proficient in typing on it anyway (I was surprised at how fast I could type 500 words on my own smartphone).
Original article published here