I find my relationship with blogging is much like my relationship with running. Once a year I go to the running store. I’m greeted by someone with a slender build, clothes made of Thermax or DryFit, and endless enthusiasm. I try to act like I’m one with him by bringing in my old running shoes, recounting the one time I ran a marathon, and selecting what I think I’ll need for the next year. I almost always end up getting more than I need. On this day, I feel like a runner.
Unfortunately spending money and getting the equipment is a lot easier than actually running. Previously I wrote about my experience setting up the Feedback Army blog and I’m proud to say I’ve beat my low bar for consistency keeping this blog up. I’m now starting to feel more like a blogger and less like someone who spends time and money setting up blogs.
In this post I’ll share interesting tips and ideas for keeping consistent. Some may work for you, some may not.
Self Accountability: Jerry Seinfeld’s Writing Secret
Jerry Seinfeld has an amazing productivity secret. He has a big calendar on his wall. Each day he does a writing task he puts a big red X. Eventually the red Xs pile up and he feels pressure to avoid breaking the chain. This keeps Jerry motivated.
I use a similar process of self-accountability to juggle a full-time job, girlfriend, side business, and other projects. Each week I print out an 8.5×11 sheet of paper with a grid on it. The X axis represents the days of the week. The Y axis represents the hours in the day. I mark what time I wake up, what time I go to bed, and I darken the hours during which I “wasted time”. The hours I accomplished something (even errands, meals, and other stuff I have to do), I write what I did. This process keeps me accountable to myself and helps me enjoy my downtime with no guilt.
Note: this is the converse of “scheduling your time”–a practice my spirit has never cared for. If scheduling works for you, do it. If you find scheduling doesn’t work, try this self accountability technique. They’re two sides of the same coin.
Stop in the Middle – Ernest Hemingway’s Secret
What works for me may not work for you. And what doesn’t work for me, may work for you. In the latter group is Hemingway’s Hack. Ernest Hemingway’s secret to writing was to stop in the middle while the getting was good. This prevented him from having to start the next day with the daunting task of starting from scratch. He always resumed something he was in the middle of.
I’ve heard of scientists using a similar approach. They’ll try to call it quits when they’re almost done with something. Me? I like to finish what I start so I can begin the next day or task with a fresh mind. Context switches are expensive (This is a system programmer’s humor. It means I don’t multitask very well.)
So with that said, how do I keep up on blogging?
Get Ahead and Stay Ahead – Raphael’s Secret
Don’t worry, I’m not putting myself in the same class as Jerry Seinfeld and Ernest Hemingway. I need so much writing help that I had to invent a new kind of proofreading tool to keep ahead of my deficiencies.
Self deprecation aside, I know something about getting things done.
The first step to getting ahead is deciding what this means. I set a goal to publish something on the Feedback Army blog once a week. A good goal is reasonable and measurable.
My problem is the mood to write hits me rarely. When it does, I know it’s a gift and I try to harness it as much as possible. During these periods of inspiration I start writing. Start to finish I take my ideas and write out as many posts as I can. I then use WordPress’s post scheduling feature to add the completed posts to the queue. The idea is that as I write I build up a buffer of posts that will automatically publish once per week. I’m about a month ahead now.
This is very motivating as I don’t feel the pressure of falling behind. When the time comes to write I feel like I’m adding to an existing thing not fighting to build something from scratch.
Of course the hardest part is getting started. To break the running analogy from earlier: runner’s can’t go out and do 100 miles the day they get new shoes. Bloggers can. When you get a new blog and you’re excited, use this time to write a bunch of posts and get ahead.
These tips should give you a running start keeping up on your blog. Try them and let me know how it goes.