Don’t you hate writer’s block? You know you have brilliant ideas, but there’s that damn blank screen staring at you when you sit down to blog. Nothing happens. The brain’s in idle. Frustration begins to creep in. (Remember Jack Nicholson in The Shining?)
Many people struggle with writing. But I believe anyone can write and blog with the right approach. It’s not brain surgery, but it does take some work.
First, get over the idea that you have to write a blockbuster blog every time. We find in our training that many corporate bloggers are by nature analytical and perfectionists, which creates a lot of extra agony. It’s great to hit a home run, but mostly this is about hitting lots of singles and doubles.
Blogs are bursts of communications-probably closer to a semi structured email than a traditional article. You’re not writing a white paper or essay. Think “light” and “just good enough” (see the just good enough marketer).
Here’s 7 starting tips to help you get rolling:
- Pick your prime time and block out your calendar
If you’re a morning person, blog in the morning-that’s when the creative juices are flowing. Block out 60 to 90 minutes and don’t do anything else but write (no email, tweeting, etc) “Batching” your time is critical. Pick certain days a week, same times, and make it a routine (Ex: 8 am Mon-Wed-Fri).
- Pick one central idea/concept
Maybe you just had a great meeting with a client and you came away with a buckletload of ideas-now cull those down to the top 3 to 5. “Just came out of an amazing meeting, and forced me to rethink XYZ subject…”
- Stick with a simple structure
Blogs should have clear beginning, body and end. A simple structure might be: main argument, opening, 3 supporting points, conclusion and supporting points as needed. Done. (optional: call to action).
- Organize your ideas
Use old fashion outlines or programs like Evernote-whatever works for you. Experiment-for instance, try index cards (I use these for presentations). Think of it like cooking-you want all your “ingredients” organized and set aside before you start.
- Use #s and bullet points
Yes we beat this technique to death (7 Steps to Eternal Wealth, etc) but it works-and it keeps you focused. It’s also easier to write in bullets vs blocks of prose (and it breaks up the copy for the scanning reader)
- Use stories
Stories should come naturally, but they take time to develop. So develop a file of personal stories you can call on later to make specific points. You can usually draw on 2 or 3 key points from each story.
- Just write
Some people freeze, and never get out of the starting gate. Blogging is a lot of “ready, fire, aim”- just start writing, and you can fine tune it later.
When finished, do a quick review: Is your blog:
- Authentic? (your voice)
- Relevant (think audience needs)?
- Threaded with a clear message?
You should be able to eventually crank out blogs in 1 to 2 hours. The exact time is less important than establishing a personal editorial and publishing system that you continually improve. You want a well-oiled machine.
One more note: the real key to blogging is coming to the table ready to write; it’s a mindset. That means you should be on the constant lookout for story ideas-industry conferences, your kid’s soccer game, books and articles, etc. Keep a notebook or tape recorder handy, capturing and massaging ideas. Think like a journalist. Don’t wait until you sit down in front of the computer: organize in your head (themes, angles, key points) as you go along.
You need to make writing part of your life. Like it or not, we’re all in the content business now.