By Josh Baez, Marketing Consultant for Heinz Marketing
Look, let’s not beat around the bush. We’ve all been there. We’re sitting at our desk or at a coffee shop or at an airport bar, computer open, cursor blinking (almost antagonistically), and we know that we’ve already put this off long enough. We know that it’s time to write a blog.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
For me, it’s one that I experience time and time again. And every time it comes about, I feel gravely unprepared. Which is crazy, I know. It’s not like blog-writing is some life-or-death situation. It should be a moment of reflection. Of calm. Yet, here I am, frantically trying to come up with a blog post as I’m writing this introduction.
Let’s hope something comes out of this.
Writing a blog is a lot like being asked what your favorite song is. The moment you’re asked your mind goes blank. I could rattle off blog topics left and right, but as soon as Word comes, every idea I had disappears, and all I’m left with is a cursor, blinking on an empty page.
As frustrating as that is, there are a few practices I’ve come across that usually help me put the figurative pen to paper.
TIP 1: Start writing and see where it takes you.
Believe it or not, this blog originally started out as a blog on why community matters. But you know what? That’s fine.
Sometimes you have a topic in mind, and as much as you may want to write about it, the words just don’t come out the way you want them to. But rather than calling it quits because things didn’t work out, start writing, and continue to write, about whatever’s in your head and see where it takes you.
While this may seem a bit chaotic at first, it’s usually easier to revise, add, and remove sections after you’ve gotten everything in your head down on paper.
Essentially, lay out all your pieces, see what’s in front of you, and clean it up form there.
For example, here’s the original introduction I wrote:
We know that it’s time to write a blo– well… not just yet.
First, we need to rid ourselves of all distractions. So, let’s check Instagram. Then, we need to check Facebook. Then, Twitter. Okay, nothing urgent. Closing the apps. And now we’re rea– oh, no wait, just need to check Instagram again. Might as well give the ole’ email a push refresh. There we go. Donezo.
All set? Well, a novice would naively say yes. But we are no novice. No, we are seasoned blog-writing veterans. And with this maturity comes the understanding that writing a blog isn’t just for any schmuck off the street. No, blog-writing takes poise. It takes grace. It takes a true mastery of the language to be able write the words and have them flow like water down the page and-
Oh, sorry, I need to take this call.
Yes? Hello? Oh hi, Mom. I know, I’m bringing the potato salad this weekend. I- I know. Yep. Dad can’t have too many sausages this time. Look, can I call you back? I’m sort of in the middle of something. Okay. Okay. Yep. Okay. Love you too. Bye.
Sorry, where was I? Ah yes.
-to flow like water down the page and have the words cascade from syllable to syllable. And for an effect like that, one must be well-prepared. And that requires a drink.
At this point, you may be wondering to yourself. Why hasn’t he started his blog post yet? or This sure is a lot or perhaps the most important question of all Why the hell am I still reading this?
Well, I guess that now with all the formalities out of the way, we can finally begin.
That’s… insane. What you just read above are the words of a mad man. And not in the suave Don Draper kind of way. (Does that reference still work? I’m only just starting Season 1 of Mad Men, oops.)
Regardless, the point I’m trying to make is that sometimes, what you’re writing doesn’t make any sense at all. But that’s okay. Because in a lot of cases, writing anything at all is enough to take the rust off your creative gears.
TIP 2: Don’t take a break.
You may think that giving yourself a break as you’re writing a blog is a good thing, but let’s be real honest with ourselves for a moment – how often have you stopped writing a blog halfway through and have actually gone back to it, let alone in the same 10 minutes of taking a break?
When you step away from your computer in the middle of your creative process, chances are you won’t be coming back.
Don’t take a break (yet.) Instead, use your momentum to propel you to the end. Finish writing. Get everything down. And once you feel confident you have everything down on paper, that’s when you can take a break.
TIP 3: Just keep writing.
Just. Keep. Writing.
I know, I know. By now your sentences may hardly make sense. Your page may be full of run-ons and half-baked thoughts and it may read like complete gibberish. But you’ll find that sooner or later, the ideas will start to tie together, and it’s at that point when the writing can really kick into gear. Because now, instead of having to start from scratch, you’ll have pages of ideas to sort through.
All that’s left now is to wipe away the excess and put a ribbon on it.
No silver bullets
You’ll notice that the three tips above all revolve around a central idea – to keep writing no matter what.
That may sound crude and obvious and remarkably unglamorous, but the truth is that writing doesn’t come with an instruction manual. There is no universal writing how-to. No step-by-step guide to tell you exactly how to write. No silver bullets. Writing is an act that is entirely personal. And entirely up to you to engage in.
Writing a blog is always harder to do before you’ve started. You rack your brain trying to find the right topics, and when you finally think you have one, you go to write about it and… nothing. Nothing comes to mind.
But writing a blog isn’t hard.
It’s everything else around the process of writing that is. Distractions, time constraints, competing thoughts, hell, even just being bored – the odds are absolutely stacked against you when you need to write a blog post. Which is why sometimes you just need to buckle in and start writing. Anything at all.
This blog is a living example of “just keep writing.” And while it may be messy, the creative process is messy.
Embrace it. And just keep writing.