I don’t talk a lot about blogging, but I do share a few tips here and there, so if you’re not a blogger, this is one of those posts you may want to skip! For those of you who do blog, this one tip has made the biggest difference in my life and my blog over the past year, and I think about it often enough that I decided it was time to share it.
When I started blogging, the editorial calendar was king. It was important to post regularly, never miss a day, etc. To be organized—and out of fear of running out of post ideas—I used to fill my editorial calendar months in advance, writing down topics whenever inspiration hit and dutifully adding them to the calendar to try to balance topics across the month.
I would then jot notes for each topic as the post date got closer, eventually forcing myself to write a post that I couldn’t even remember wanting to write…just because it was on my calendar.
The more I did it, the more blogging started to feel like an obligation rather than a joy, and the dryer and duller my posts got.
Last year, when Sean broke his knee and I was suddenly juggling even more than usual, I started jotting down bits and pieces of actual posts—and not just topics—whenever inspiration hit. I would suddenly think of a lesson I was learning, or a tip that was making a difference in my life, and I’d write a paragraph (sometimes more) about it before going back to what I was originally doing. This wasn’t the first time I’d tried this method but this time I finally found a system that really worked for me: typing posts in the Evernote app on my phone, where they’d automatically sync to my computer.
Sometimes I start with just a few sentences, other times several paragraphs. But I always go back to it several times, adding more, deleting, tweaking, before I’m ready to hit publish—sometimes on my computer, often on my phone.
Once I have a pretty good draft, I’ll go ahead and add it to my calendar. But not before.
I discovered that the posts I wrote right when inspiration struck were not only easier and less painful to write but also resonated more with readers. I stopped feeling frustrated while trying to write a post I no longer cared about. And my writing time decreased significantly.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not typing a post on my phone one minute and hitting publish the next. I wish it were that easy, but it’s not. It still involves time and effort.
Even though writing still takes time, though, this practice has made a huge difference in my blogging. I’m able to write faster and more authentically, and I think these posts are higher quality than the ones I force myself to write just because they’re on my calendar.
It’s also brought the joy back to blogging because I almost always have a backlog of half written posts to choose from. Some of those will never get published because they already feel dry and boring to me. Others will take me weeks or months of tweaking. But knowing there is plenty to choose from makes it feel like fun again rather than drudgery, and that might be the biggest benefit of all.
How do you capture inspiration when it hits?