See how easily you can find more time to blog
Today, I threw a hissyfit.
A real one.
- Threw my bike on the ground
- Took off my stilettos
- Walked bare-footed down a steep hill
- Got bindis in my feet
- Took a completely wrong turn
- Was redirected by a concerned onlooker who I think was at once in awe of me and a little scared that I might start gurgling green bubbly stuff from my mouth. Or something.
- Said thank you through gritted teeth.
- Cried my way up another steep hill (now in the rain).
I’m not telling you this because I think you care any about my mental state. Nor because I want your empathy or understanding. And I’m not offloading on you.
There is a point.
And the point is…
I’m not usually the hissy fit type, so my reaction caused me to have a think about what’s been happening in my life to produce stress. What it was that brought me to that boiling point?
And the answer is, I hadn’t been following my own advice on how to fit in blogging time.
I’ve spent a lot of time this week doing guest posts (I’ve written seven so far) and I’ve also got a couple of demanding freelance writing jobs. So, I haven’t written much of my own stuff. Which makes me stressed.
Not one for enjoying the stab of bindis on bare feet, I decided to back up that hissyfit with this article on fitting in time for blog writing.
May you never throw your bike or de-shod in anger:
1. Get real about your priorities.
Because what we think in our heads and what is ‘actually’ happening are often two different things, become your own micromanager. Here’s how:
- list your priorities. You’re reading this article, so one will probably be blogging, but there may also be other priorities, like family, exercise;
- once you’ve listed all the activities that matter to you – that fulfil and satisfy you or are part of your suite of responsibilities – make a daily log. Break it into 30 minutes intervals;
- in each 30 minute block, list the activities you did;
- repeat for a week. At the end of the week, write a list of the activities in the log. Calculate how much time you spent on each activity;
- you may be surprised to learn that the way you allocate your time during the week does not reflect your priorities. If that’s the case, adjust. Mostly everyone at the very least needs to tweak their use of time to meet with their priorities.
2. Blog all the time.
Of course, by this I don’t mean constantly sitting at your keyboard. I mean doing the mental work to unfold ideas in your imagination before they make the page. Writing demands cultivation and preparation. So, read, watch a quality TV show or film, listen to a song or look at a sculpture. These other forms help us access structure and story. For instance, I adore Rodin’s sculptures because they give me ideas for how the bodies of my characters work and interplay, which is a big focus of my writing. When I sit down to write, I know exactly how I want the bodies of my characters to move, sit and work together. Knowing this, I also know the ‘how’ of my story.
3. Set time for extra blogging activities (and know where you want to put your energy).
You’ve got a blog, so you’ll probably want readers. To get an audience, pull some focussed and strategic hours on social media. Many bloggers are fantastic at getting their work down, but then drop the ball when it comes to marketing, either by wasting time and efforts on social media where they transmit unclear and inconsistent marketing messages (or, commonly, none at all).
4. Use a workflow tool to schedule your posts.
Treat your blogging professionally and with intention. One of the ways is to use a tool that helps manage your content output, such as a spreadsheet, an app like Remember The Milk (my fave) or Google Calendar. Lock in the blogpost with scheduled due dates for drafts, completion and publication.
By doing this, after you have a good idea of how your traffic works, you can schedule and write according to what patterns of content sustain and grow your audience.
5. Snack write.
Break jobs down into smaller components, then write in whatever time blocks you can grab. This may mean writing while you’re:
- waiting for an appointment
- because you finished another task early or
- getting up just half an hour earlier every day to write.
Honestly, learning how to snack write has been my biggest time challenge. I still carry a notion that I have to have an entire day to write, or at least a big block of time, in order to get anything good out.
But it’s not true.
Snack writing allows me to fill in the wasted moments of the day with output. Later, in the moments when I can give more concentrated and longer focus, I return to the drafts I have written during snack writing and gently smooth off the edges.
This way, at least I’m getting something down to work with.
6. Collect ideas so you’re never stuck.
Creatives each have various ways of holding onto ideas. Swipe files are, in my view, essential. My swipe files includes links to articles, images, soundbites, short films – and anything else that’s a trigger point.
One thing to remember is to clear out the swipe file from time-to-time. Your ideas date; they change. What captivated and inspired you once may not anymore. Keep your swipe file fresh and in line with your current fascinations.
Taking it home
Your blogging matters. It’s a tool for branding, for the dissemination of your ideas, for building an audience. Plus, it’s also a vital component of the iterative process involved in producing a larger work. So, prioritise it, then use these strategies for grabbing the time to do it.