If you've ever been in a content creation role, you know that there's lots you can do to make sure you're creating great content every single day. You can't just wait for inspiration. You've got to be prepared, motivated, and focused -- all at the same time. The trifecta can be hard to get, even for the savviest of writers.
So if your job is to create content everyday, how do you achieve all that?
To get to the bottom of this, I spoke with my teammates here at HubSpot. It's no secret: we create a lot of content, especially blog posts ... so I figured we'd have a few tricks up our sleeve for writing a post every single day. Here's some of the best advice our team has for getting prepared, motivated and focused to write each day on the job.
1) Braindump Your Ideas in Trello
My best brainstorming doesn't often happen randomly -- I usually need to sit down, realize I need to brainstorm, make inspiration strike once, and then iterate on that idea. I personally love to brainstorm ideas in Trello -- a place where my whole team can see them and grab one if they want to write it. Having a central location for ideas keeps the blog post idea mill flowing for the entire team, even in the darkest days of writer's block.
2) Race Your Laptop's Battery
My colleague, Corey Eridon, mentioned this tip in a previous post about blogging tips -- and it's something our team will do when under a tight deadline. Just unplug your laptop, go somewhere else, and race to finish your post before your computer shuts off. Constraining your writing to a certain time limit can help you focus on getting the most important points down in a concise way.
3) Isolate Yourself (Physically AND Digitally)
To get focused, my teammates and I also like to isolate ourselves. Whether it's holing up in some random conference room to write, popping in some headphones at our desks, or turning off all instant message/email/tweet notifications on our computers, we're making sure we're focusing on the one and only task at hand: writing a blog post. Those other distractions can wait until you've finished.
4) Refresh Your Surroundings
This tip is one my coworker Karlan Baumann swears by: changing your surroundings any time you need to work. So if you've been emailing at your desk all morning, try heading over to a local coffee shop to write (or vice versa). Writing requires a different mindset than the rest of your day-to-day duties, so changing up your surroundings to mirror the change in mindset can be very helpful.
5) Listen to Music
Popping in your favorite tunes can help you gear up to write something awesome -- though it doesn't have to be a certain type of music. My colleague Shannon Johnson told me that she prefers classical or non-lyrical music when she needs to buckle down and write ... but mine is usually the Pandora Beyonce or Mumford and Sons mix. Find whatever music empowers and focuses you to write and go from there.
6) Get Comfy
I absolutely need to feel physically comfortable before I write. Forget ergonomics -- sometimes I need to be hunched over my post for an hour to get it out quickly.
Experiment to see which body position works best for you. For me, I need my feet stretched out and laptop on my lap because that's the position I used when I was on tight deadlines at college. This position can work at my desk or in a conference room or on the couch. You may need much more -- or much less -- rigidity, but it's important for you to know how your posture can help or hurt you.
7) Chunk Up Your Writing
Often, I'll get overwhelmed and think, "I need to get 1,500 words done before lunch? I have 10 minutes before my next meeting so I won't even try to write something." But that's not always the best way to think about writing -- or any project in general. Lately, I've been trying to say to myself, "I have 10 minutes, so what can I write in that time that'll be substantial?" Usually, that'll be one or two paragraphs of a post -- so I'll challenge myself to write that before I need to go to my next meeting.
Set deadlines for yourself for parts of your writing, and you could find that your productivity skyrockets.
8) Do It at a Set Time
It's really easy to make excuses to not write. An impromptu meeting crops up or suddenly your inbox is overflowing or maybe someone's complaining on Twitter and you need to respond to it. But if you let yourself get caught up in all of those, you'll never have enough time to bang out a post.
So try carving out a chunk of time to sit and write, and don't let anything else interfere. Maybe you write best in the morning, so you block out 8-10 a.m. on your calendar. Send yourself a calendar invite for that time and disconnect from all notifications. You'll train yourself and your coworkers to expect you to blog at that time.
9) Talk It Out
This is a great tip that came from Corey as well: when you're getting caught up in trying to write something down, just talk it out. Grab a voice recording device or a coworker, and explain what you mean out loud. Naturally you're going to be more down-to-earth and jargon-free, and hearing your own voice say the concept out loud can jumpstart your creativity. Bonus: if you have Evernote, you can write your blog posts by talking them out.
10) Skip to Easier Stuff
Writing can make me really angry sometimes. Randomly, I'll have a blog post idea and have no clue how to begin the post. It doesn't matter if I've been ruminating on the idea for a week or a month or half a year -- somehow I get writer's block.
Instead of fighting against those sections that just won't cooperate, skip to sections you know like the back of your hand. Writing non-linearly seems counterintuitive (don't you have to build your story first??), but it can help unlock your creativity. You'll get back into your writing groove and it'll be easier to tackle those other sections. Just make sure you go through a heavy edit to make sure your story flow actually seems logical.
11) Organize Your Bookmark Bar With Resources You Use Every Day
I'm an organized person. I keep track of my blog post ideas in Trello, I color-code my email inbox, and I sure as heck make sure I'm ready to write or edit a blog post at a moment's notice.
One thing that has significantly cut down on my writing and editing time is my collection of bookmarks. I'm not the greatest at dead-recalling facts. Instead, I bookmark resources that'll help me find the information I need. So things like the link to our blog or design style guide, or the link to our stock photo subscription, or the link to our personas -- I bookmark them all. That way, I don't have to spend time searching for important blog post content to reference or cite.