Last week Karen sent me a link to a podcast called “This Is Your Life.” The episode I listened to talked about how to write a blog post in 70 minutes or less. I found the advice to be extremely helpful. One of the biggest revelations was generating an idea for a post night before actually writing about the topic. This ensures that the heavy lifting of writing isn’t done until the following day— well after the idea has simmered in your head for a few hours. Other helpful tips included using a template to write, thinking about the flow of the topic idea while exercising or doing chores, turning off all notifications from your phone AND computer, and setting a timer for 30 minutes. The timer idea was extremely interesting to me because it sets a mini-deadline and forces me to focus. When the clock is ticking the pressure is on, even if a true deadline is days away.

Despite the excellent advice, I still feel as if writing a blog post in 70 minutes (or less!) isn’t applicable to every situation. For example, if I am deeply familiar with a topic the words generally flow easier and I face very few stumbling blocks. For topics that require extensive research, or that are out of my range of knowledge, it often takes longer to write a post. Part of the 70 minutes also included finding graphics, adding links, and posting to WordPress. Unless a post is 500 words or less, I simply don’t see it happening for me.

Even so, the advice has helped me focus my writing. I’m editing less in my first draft. I can’t seem to complete kick the habit because I always feel the need to delete a sentence and clarify what I want to say. This greatly slows the momentum of the writing process down. I know with more practice I’ll shift into the habit of editing once the first draft of an article is complete.

I’m also finding it helpful to break more challenging posts into sessions spread over several days. The time helps me take a breather when I’m struggling with a difficult topic and my attention is waning. I am also able to give myself a buffer of a day or two before the actual deadline. This wasn’t part of the original advice, but I adjusted accordingly so I can work in mini-sessions. So far, so good!

What piece of advice has helped you become more productive or effective at a particular task? What was the task?

blogging by Robb Sutton of Flickr

Blogging by Robb Sutton of Flickr

 

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