Most bloggers struggle with getting their writing done for one surprising reason: they approach writing as the act of creating something out of nothing. It’s the main reason you want to bash your head against the keyboard.
In fact, writing the damn thing should be the easiest part of content creation.
Once I realized that you can’t create something out of nothing, I could wake up at 5 AM, have a sip of coffee, and sit down to punch those damn keys until my hands hurt.
No more time wasted staring stupidly into the abyss of a blank document, no more cursing that blinking cursor thing.
Great Bloggers Steal… Kind Of.
The truth is most bloggers struggle because they try to write in a void. They approach the blank page as a world of infinite possibilities.
If you were to place me in a dark room, with no access to humankind’s collective ideas and thoughts, also known as the internet, I’d be like, “Uhm… yeah… ahm… where did my brain go?”
Most bloggers are plagued by the curse of originality, meaning that they are trying to create something out of nothing.
In truth, blogging is more like being engaged in a conversation. All you have to do is add to the conversation, share your opinion, share some facts, but most of all… you have to connect the dots, you have to connect what someone else said to what you want to say.
That’s why I spend an enormous amount of time reading content all over the web, listening to podcasts, watching movies, TV shows, documentaries, reading interviews…
I am feeding my brain, but while I do so I am also asking myself these questions:
- Do I agree with them? Why?
- What do I have to add to what they said/wrote?
- How do my own experiences relate to the information I am consuming right now?
I stumbled upon this system by commenting on a lot of blog posts. Sometimes, if the article truly inspired me to think, I’d share some insight, come up with some idea or thought, that I instantly recognized as being worth writing an entire blog post about.
By starting with someone else’s ideas and words, I’d put in motion my own creative mind, and I’d undoubtedly share something that was mine, all mine.
Step One: Ideas
All throughout the day, I write down a bunch of ideas, quotes, questions that I stumble upon as I wander around the Internet.
I choose the ideas that make me think, the ideas that I can easily have something to add, to remove, or to improve.
Most bloggers are afraid of doing this as if it were a capital sin. It’s not. Believe it or not, the goal is not to write something new and unique, it’s to write into existence a bit of yourself.
As I feed my brain, a lot of ideas develop. I connect dots, I write down headlines for future articles, I write anecdotes and quotes that I can use as intros to my blog posts.
This is the first step when it comes to content creation: feed your brain with information that makes you think, information that’s so good you wish you had thought about it first, information that inspires you, that makes you go, “Oh, my, this is actually brilliant.” Write down that information.
Step Two: Think
The next step is to sit down at your desk and think about the ideas you “stole” from others. Think about:
- How can I make this better?
- How can I make this mine?
The trick is to spend as little time as possible doing this. No, seriously. I only spend enough time until I come up with a few ideas of my own, and then, you guessed it, I start punching those keys.
Quick tip: If you do this long enough, you will eventually start to connect seemingly unrelated dots as well. You will be able to see that a Zen anecdote can be used as a framework for an article on blogging, or that a story about Alexander The Great can be a great catalyst for a personal essay about the power of reframing your predicament.
This process makes it easier to just start writing because you don’t have to think about what you’re going to write, but you are also adding to the conversation that is going around in other people’s online spaces.
There’s a good reason that all our art, all our stories, are about a handful of themes: that’s all we think about, all that we want to read about, all that we care about.
Okay, let’s get to the next part, which is easy, because it doesn’t involve much thinking.
Step Three: Stop Thinking and Just Write
Don’t think, just write.
Let your subconscious mind dictate the words you share with the world. It kind of knows how to make sense of all the information that you’ve stored in your mind, and how to best connect what is in your brain with what you’ve long hidden in your heart.
The first draft of any type of writing should be written out of impulse. It’s like a dream from another life, a vision forming around the edges of that blank screen on your computer.
I write my first drafts by sharing as many thoughts and ideas as possible. I imagine myself laying bricks upon the foundation that is the initial thought or idea that fueled my own writing.
Inevitably, as you let go of fears, expectations, or desires, you begin to write your article. I mean, YOUR article. It belongs to you, it’s something only you can write.
Step Four: Rewrite and Edit
Finally, it’s time to edit my article. Depending on the time, the mood, and other life factors, I read it forwards and backwards a couple of times, checking for consistency, tone, and those pesky typos.
Sometimes a certain sentence doesn’t make much sense, sometimes an entire paragraph has to go.
The trick about editing is that you mustn’t be afraid to kill your darlings, so to speak. You know, to cut out the leg that is infected. Okay, I think that metaphor might be a bit too strong.
In any case, the idea is that you have to rewrite your article in such a way that it also makes sense to someone else.
As I rewrite and edit my article, I think about my readers:
- What are they getting out of it?
- Is it worth their time?
- Would they pay money to read this article?
- Is it going to help them solve a problem? Or inspire them to take action?
- Is this the best article that I can write on the topic?
At this point, the piece isn’t perfect, nothing ever is, but it’s usually time to let it go.
I used to edit articles until I couldn’t stand the thought of ever having to read them again, but I think that’s a poor use of my time and energy.
Now, I just edit as long as I feel is required to do my ideas justice. Then it’s time to let go and click on the publish button.
I know this is not some extraordinary system, and the only real difference is in the fact that I am relentless when it comes to pursuing as many ideas as possible.
I write down some 60–70 quotes and ideas per day, most of which never inspire me to transform them into articles, but at least 3–4 of them are good enough that I know right away what to write, how to write, and this makes writing a new blog post quite effortless.
The number one trick when it comes to writing an article is to make the process as effortless as possible. That’s why every single blogging blogger out there tells you to write about your passions, about the things that inspire you the most. It’s easier to write about the ideas that you already have an opinion about, or that you can amplify by sharing a personal story.
Writing a blog post is quite simple:
- Feed your brain with as much information as possible. Write the most inspiring parts down.
- Think about them. Imagine you’re having a conversation with the author of those ideas. Add to the conversation.
- Punch the damn keys.
- Rewrite and edit.
- Click on the little publish button.
- Go back to step number 1.
That’s it. That’s all it takes. Don’t complicate the process, don’t make it seem like this terrifying act of having to hold the world with one hand, and writing greatness with the other, while seated on a burning unicycle.