Three Ways to Force Yourself to Write A Blog Post
As a writer-turned-content-marketer, you’d think blog posts would be my jam.
I believe so much in the value of good content, I’ve staked my career on it. I’ve held positions where a huge part of my role was to cast the vision behind having strong content, create a plan for a collaborative blog and then pester each writer up to (and often past) his or her blog deadline until I had something decent to post. I’ve populated entire blogs for clients. I’ve written many a post on behalf of another person or organization.
But when it comes to writing my own post, I dread it.
I make a lot of excuses for this. For example, I may say that client work comes first and I don’t want to take the time away from them. Or I may explain that I’m private, and much more a “sculptor of words” than a creative who wants a byline attached to my thoughts, feelings, even opinions.
Both are true.
At the end of the day, however, I am a content marketer. And I have to write my own blog posts.
So if you’re like me and ever find yourself staring at a blank document and cursing Justin Hall and his personal webpage, here are three ideas to force to yourself to write a blog post.
1. Write About Whatever is In Your Head
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour
In another lifetime, it seems, and certainly another decade, I taught high school English. Almost every class for three years began with a freewriting exercise. Because there’s no better way to learn to write than practice, right? It was actually something I’d done in many of my graduate classes so I understood it firsthand. Students—myself included—who are asked to freewrite often have no idea what to write about.
“Start with that!” I’d say, having learned from experience.
It’s amazing how beginning to write ferociously about how you don’t know what to write about … can turn into why you don’t know what to write about ... which is usually an entirely separate topic altogether—often a surprising one.
Try it. Force yourself to keep writing for five minutes no matter what—no editing—and just see if you don’t surprise yourself with what comes out.
This can be very useful when forcing yourself to blog. You’ll have to edit it, sure, but that’s the case with anything.
But if you’re not the “surprise yourself” type, try this instead:
2. Get Inspired First
“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.” —William Faulkner
Put into today’s application: Read other blogs. Good ones and bad ones. Blogs written by competitors and blogs written by organizations you simply admire. See what’s out there.
Then, if you absorb it like Faulkner promises, great! You’ll synthesize it into something meaningful—and well-researched piece can make a great impact. In fact, sometimes just pulling together a list can offer true value.
More likely, however, it’ll inspire something new inside you that allows you to offer a piece of thought leadership that fits nicely into the current landscape. Or maybe you’ll notice a gap and be the one to fill it.
If you want more proof that reading is worth your time, see what Stephen King has to say on the subject.
3. Lower Your Expectations
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” —Ernest Hemingway
Your post could be better.
No matter how great you feel about it, no matter how many times you’ve revised and even rewritten it, you’ll go back in 6 months and cringe at a sentence or a paragraph. Maybe the whole thing will feel “off.”
And if you don’t think it could be better, someone else will.
This doesn’t mean you should pump out a post as fast as you can and throw it out there. Think quality over quantity. Revise it. Get peers to review it. By all means, proofread it!
But then, publish it. Get your thoughts out into the wild to see what happens.
Forcing yourself to blog—I’m preaching to myself here—is worth it. You may even see up to 13X positive ROI. So at some point, the excuses need to go out the window and those words need to go online.