Tips for Staying Writely Motivated on Your Blog

Filed as Features on October 23, 2007 8:50 am

Writing has become such a process of self-discovery that I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning. I wanted to know what I was going to say.

Sharon O’Brien

Do you start your morning with that kind of energy? So excited, you race to your computer to write your first blog post before you even hit the shower?

There are some days when my eagerness to see what I’m going to write next shoves my body out of bed in the morning to rush to my computer. There are other days when I wish I could lie in bed and wait for the muse of the moment to slap me awake.

Sometimes, there are so many things to write about, I can’t stop writing. My husband has to peel me off my laptop. Other times, there are so many things to blog about, I’m overwhelmed, staring at the computer screen unable to write a word.

How do you keep motivated to keep producing content on your blog?

I’ve tried a lot of the old tips, like making sure I write something every day, preferably before heading to the kitchen or shower, or setting myself great goals and deadlines, then watching them pass me by.

A lot of writers have shared their tips and techniques with others, writers and writer-wanna-bes eager to find the genie in the bottle to keep them tied to their keyboards, hammering out brilliantly coordinated words. I’ve tried many of these over the years. While some work, it is my own unique recipe of tips and tricks that keeps me motivated and publishing consistently, and want to share them with you.

Set Reasonable Deadlines

There are two kinds of writing deadlines: editorial calendars and self-imposed.

I work with both, but I control all my deadlines by making them all self-imposed. This makes the deadlines reasonable and more in line with my life and working schedule.

For example, I have a deadline to write five articles a week for the Blog Herald. Rarely do I wait until the day the article is due to write it. I schedule my article deadlines one week minimum before they are due to publish. Using the future post feature in WordPress, I set the date for the day it is due for publishing, seven days in the future. In case I’m traveling or suddenly called out on an assignment or event, the post will release without me, giving me a week buffer if trouble arises and I can’t get online in a timely fashion.

Using this technique to the extreme, if I know I will be traveling or working long hours for an extended period of time, I can write out a week to a month worth of blog posts, then check in with my blog once a day for comments and regular maintenance checks.

By controlling my deadlines, I can do other things while my blogs work for me.

Move With the Muse

When an idea strikes me, I write it down immediately, as much as I can, not stopping writing until I’ve emptied my head of the thoughts around and within that idea. I don’t care if they are random, confused, or scattered. I write until I’ve exhausted the inspiration.

I can then decide to clean up and finish the article then, or leave it and return later. When I return, I will find enough content to remind me of the idea so I can finish it, not a few keywords or cute titles that do not trigger the memory of what inspired the thought in the first place.

This gives me a long list of partially written blog posts ready for editing and publishing, turning my idea list into a post draft list, keeping the blog content flowing.

Always Carry Pen and Paper, Cell Phone, or Handheld Computer

Always have a method to take down notes when away from your computer about a potential blog story or article. Always carry paper and pen.

If you have no pen or paper, use your cell phone to call your cell or home phone and leave the idea in a message on your answering service. If you have a handheld computer, then jot down the idea with that.

There are many ways to preserve your ideas when you get them, like telling your friend, writing on your hand or arm, using mnemonics, or whatever works for you and is handy in the moment.

Download First – Edit Later

I strongly believe in the “brain dump”, writing everything and anything you can think of about the topic you want to blog about, then editing later.

You have to download all the thoughts, with as few interruptions, distractions, or stops to check and research things, before you lose the breadcrumbs along the trail.

There is always time to edit, but rarely time to recapture the thoughts once they have evaporated.

Create Self-Assignments

While I’ve been known to write anything upon command (and a paycheck), my best work comes from the assignments and projects I set for myself. Because they are self-inspired and self-motivated, I find I have more enthusiasm for the project and the writing than the ones assigned by others. The more of a connection I feel for the piece I’m writing, the better the writing, and the more likely I am to publish and/or sell it.

Self-Assignments or writing projects come from a variety of sources for inspiration. Often they come from comments on my blog, reading other blogs, looking around my blog topic industry, or just from little events in my life. I jot down notes and ideas as they occur to me, then sometimes sift through them looking for article series or themes.

When I spot one or more good ideas worthy of turning into posts in a timely fashion, I create an artificial deadline on my blog’s editorial calendar and move the ideas and notes to the top of the list, beginning my research over time. I let the self-assignment stew and develop in my mind, while I’m working on other projects, until I’ve gathered enough information or turned it over enough in my head to sit down and pound out the article before my deadline.

These self-assignments keep my mind working, problem-solving and processing ideas and concepts into full blown, publishable material.

Link Last

Dawud Miracle recently advised the method he uses when writing link-filled blog posts:

…write your posts all the way through and edit them first. Then go looking for links. I’ve tried to link as I’m writing – it takes even longer. So write first, edit, then link.

I agree. Write your content then go looking for links – unless you can’t write another word without the link.

There are many times when I know I can’t finish the idea until I’ve found the referencing link I need. That is the only time I pause to find the link, insert it in my draft, and then keep on writing. The rest of the time, I leave myself notes within the post for links, like XXXX or [put link to Blah Article here] as reminders, but the links come last as to not interrupt the creative writing process.

Edit Three Times

I strongly believe in edit, wait, edit, wait, edit, publish. I can spot a blog post I’ve written in an instant where I haven’t practiced that adage. There is always some little mistake, a misspelling, missing word, wrong phrase, some phrase that could be said tighter and better, and a weakness in the overall writing style that grates on my nerves.

It’s my work, and I want it to be the best I can make it. In general, almost everything you read that I’ve published has gone through the edit, wait, edit, wait, edit, publish process so you get my best work.

Make an Appointment With Your Muse

I travel a lot, and I write when and where I can get the time and Internet connection, but my best work happens when I show up for my daily appointment with my muse.

The schedule has shifted and changed over the years, but it typically happens just after I finish working out early in the morning, and before I hit the shower, I sit down and pound out two hours of concentrated writing, then turn to the rest of the responsibilities of my day.

Because I’ve set a consistent schedule for my writing, the words burst from me on cue every morning. If I break with that schedule, and you see me acting a little antsy, it’s because my muse is calling and I’m not there to answer. That’s how powerful showing up at the same time every day to write can be.

Your muse is ready. Where are you?

Constantly Improving Your Writing Skills

The more I learn about writing, and how words are used to express ideas and concepts, the more I want to write. The more I need to write, putting into practice the new techniques I’m learning. Never stop learning your craft.

With these techniques and practices, each day I wake up eager to see what I’m going to write next.

What about you? What is your unique recipe of tips and tricks that keep you blogging on?

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  1. By Joanna Young posted on October 23, 2007 at 6:35 pm
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    Lorelle, you offer such riches in each post you write. Thank you :-)

    Most of the time I have way too many ideas and it’s more a question of finding the time to write them down before my head bursts than it is looking for inspiration.

    But when I get jaded I focus on a reader or two, try and get as clear a picture as I can of them in my mind, think about what they might find useful, helpful, inspiring, amusing… and write for them. It makes it much more enjoyable to write this way.

    Reviewing and writing comments (on my own blogs and other people’s)can have the same effect – it breaks the feeling that you’re writing an ‘essay’ and reminds you that you’re writing something that’s part of a conversation with at least one real person somewhere. And that’s enough.

    Joanna

    Reply

  2. By eaglehawk posted on October 23, 2007 at 8:07 pm
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    Lorelle,
    I love your advice. I seem to have problems remember what I want to write about even though I do carry a notebook, so one thing that I’ve done is I’ve gotten a hold of one of those digital voice recorders and I then write what I’ve said on the recorder.
    My biggest problem is distractions, I seem to get off track and start working on something else while I’m trying to write.

    Reply

  3. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on October 23, 2007 at 8:41 pm
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    Joanna: When I started “blogging” before blogging was blogging, I held the image of my best friend in front of my face when writing. Everything was written as if I was talking to her, explaining this and that and how things work, be it in my day or work. This helped tremendously as she is always so easy to talk to, which made my writing easy to read.

    I can’t think of an anonymous person. I have to have a real person in mind when I write, especially if I am fulfilling their needs – which are often the needs of the many. Very good point! Thanks.

    eaglehawk: Thanks for the kind words. I’ve tried voice recorders of all types and styles and they don’t work for me. I do know they do work for many, but paper and pen is my style no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

    Oh, and napkins. I’m a great writer-on-napkins writer. :D

    Reply

  4. By pelf posted on October 24, 2007 at 2:19 pm
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    Oh, I know what I’m good at! Spotting mistakes! LOL, but that don’t get me anywhere unless I start writing everyday..

    But waitaminute, I do write everyday! At least I’m seeing some kind of progress on my thesis! LOL.

    Reply

  5. By Mary posted on October 28, 2007 at 5:03 am
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    Lorelle,

    I find that I tend to run the mistake of trying to edit while I’m downloading. The old image of tearing the paper out of the typewriter comes to mind as I delete delete. Thanks for the reminder to just get it out there and clean it up later.

    Reply

  6. Improve Your Blog and Web Site - Need to Read Posts #7 | The Fatty Talks by Adam HirschOctober 29, 2007 at 2:44 am
  7. By Miguel Wickert posted on February 16, 2009 at 2:45 am
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    Lorelle,

    This was released long ago but still carries a punch! One of the best posts I’ve read in some time. Stumbled, bookmarked and appreciated. :) You freakin rock! Super hot post.

    -Mig

    Reply

  8. By Karen posted on June 25, 2013 at 12:38 am
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    Two points that I love here is that we always carry writi9ng materials so when an idea pops out, we can record it immediately. Also always proofread as to make the articles error-fee.

    Reply

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