I publish my posts on Tuesdays. But last Tuesday, I did not publish my post. All this despite the fact that I absolutely adore writing.
So why did this happen?
I could not write because of 2 reasons:
I was craving perfection in writing.
I wanted my blog post to be perfect. I wanted to write something that can be appreciated by my readers and friends. I wanted to write a gem that shines. All this actually prevented me from writing in the first place, let alone editing and fine-polishing it later.
I did not want to stop doing the activity I was already doing.
I was reading a thriller. In the midst of all the suspense, I just didn’t feel like switching my laptop on, writing a post, searching for an appropriate image, putting links and then publishing it. After all, having a blog is more about than just writing. So, it became all the more easier to skip a post in favor of finishing the important chapter of the book.
After feeling guilty for some days, I learnt my lessons (after I finished my thriller :P) The lessons I learnt are the ones that are applicable to you too. I sincerely hope this helps as consistency is very important for us authors.
#1: Write a shitty first draft
Everyone who has wanted to write has often come across this term by Anne Lamott. Although this is a common saying but nothing truer could be said. It is very important to write a shitty first draft. I am not asking you to purposely write a bad draft, just reminding you that keep on writing even if you feel you are writing shit.
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Embrace the non-perfect writing. There will be time later to edit it and make it presentable but at this moment all you have to do is to get the thoughts on paper.
Golden rule: The only rule on becoming a writer is to write and keep writing shitty first drafts. The golden rule here is to write when you feel like writing and write more when you don’t feel like writing.
I have seen many authors publish a badly edited post. If it is important to write a pathetic first draft, it is mandatory to edit and fine-polish it till you strike gold- a piece of writing that makes sense.
Each post you write is your introduction to the world. Make it a good one.
A writer friend once confessed to me that he had made 14 revisions to the post that is now among his “best posts ever.” I usually go with 4-5 revisions while fine polishing my writing. I have found that usually 60-70% of the content is re-written while editing and re-editing.
Golden rule: While editing do away with all those words, sentences and paragraphs that do not add to the text at all. Ask yourself this simple question,”If I remove this word(or sentence or paragraph), would there be some deterioration in writing?” If the answer is no, chop it right away.
#3: Be consistent
It is important to edit but don’t be stuck in the process craving perfection( like I did last Tuesday) Go through a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 15 edits and then take a decision on it, whether you are going to publish it or trash it. Do not save it for later.
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” ~ Anthony Robbins
CONSISTENCY is the most important thing that a writer has to learn. If you have a choice between writing not-that-great-a-post on schedule and writing a great post but missing the schedule, I would recommend choosing the former.
Golden rule: Decide on a schedule before hand and stick to that schedule no matter what. The schedule must be specific enough like “publishing a post each Wednesday” not something vague like “writing whenever I get time.”
#4: Prepare a backlog of posts
You begin with your journey. You are very excited and swear that you would never miss a post. After all, you are not like the others, you are actually serious about this stuff. But then, life happens. You not only find out that have missed writing for 2 weeks straight but also that you are uncomfortable in writing itself now. It is then that this helps. When life takes its twists and turns, be prepared with a backlog of at least 25% of your total posts in an year. If you write once a week, ideally you must have 13 posts already written ready to be used in case you are not able to write as usual. Another way this helps is by providing you clarity relating to your message. If you write 13 posts about a single topic, you will obviously find out whether it is the right pick for you or not.
Golden rule: Before you decide to start your blog, write 25% of your posts already. It will not only give you something to fall back upon if life happens but also provide you with much needed clarity about your topic and writing in itself.
#5: Write well in advance
This is the most important practice. I write the first draft of my posts at least 3 days before it has to be published. This helps with two things.
- I get enough time to edit and re-edit.
- I am well prepared with my writing even if some problem occurs at the last moment.
Ideally, there must be a month’s gap between writing and editing the first draft. But I make do with at least a day’s gap. A day’s gap is required so that you give some time for your writing to settle in, to ensure that you do not fall in love with your first draft. Plus taking a look at it after some time will bring fresh perspective to it. The simple errors that you weren’t able to point out earlier will be clearer.
Golden rule: If you publish Tuesday, make it a point to finish first draft on Friday. After all, you only want your best to go out.
#6: Make it short but make it
This is the crunch of everything. First of all, don’t get caught in the process of publishing. Make it a point to devote time to hone your skills. Do not write unnecessary words to make it a long article. Write only what is necessary. Hack away at the unessential. And do not avoid writing, make it even if it is just 4 lines.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Golden rule: Do not avoid consistency at any cost. It is so important that I wrote about it twice. Make it short but make it.
Now a quote to get you by:
“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
What are your tips and techniques to never miss a blog post again?