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Follow These Six Steps to Make Plenty of Time to Write (and Enjoy it Too)

Posted By Guest Blogger 5th of June 2015 General 41

Six Steps to Make Plenty of Time to Write (and Enjoy it Too)  problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Ali Luke.

Here’s a safe bet:

You’re struggling to find enough time to write.

Virtually every blogger and entrepreneur has the same problem.

Maybe you want to write great content to build your business – but there are so many other things you have to do too.

I know first-hand how much of a challenge this can be. I started out writing around a full-time day job; today, I juggle work around my two year old daughter and baby son.

I don’t know your personal situation. But I can take some guesses:

  • You have a lot on your plate – sometimes you feel overwhelmed.
  • Big writing projects get shunted to the end of your to-do list.
  • When you do have some time to write, you never seem to get far.

Sound familiar?

Here’s how to turn things around, in six straightforward steps:

Step #1: Come Up With a Bunch of Ideas for Your Blog

Since you’re reading ProBlogger, it’s a pretty safe bet that you have a blog (or you’re about to start one). Do you ever find it hard to come up with enough ideas for it? Maybe you’re managing to keep up a regularly posting schedule – but you know you should be doing some guest posting, and you never seem to get round to it.

The easiest way to make faster progress on any writing project is to set aside dedicated brainstorming (or, if you like, daydreaming) time.

Grab a notebook or a bit of scrap paper, and jot down as many ideas as you can in fifteen minutes. Don’t judge your ideas, just write everything down.

Try This:

Schedule 15 minutes, once per week, for brainstorming. You’ll soon have a stockpile of ideas that you can turn to whenever you need one.

Further Reading:

How to Consistently Come Up With Great Post Ideas for Your Blog, Stacey Roberts, ProBlogger

Step #2: Create a Clear Plan Before You Start Writing

When you don’t have much time to write, you don’t want to waste a single minute.

If you find yourself getting stuck and giving up part-way, or if you often have to scrap huge chunks of your blog posts because you went off on a long tangent, then you need to get to grips with planning.

Your plan doesn’t need to be complicated. A few bullet points jotted on the back of an envelope is fine. For maximum effect, though, set aside dedicated time to plan out several posts at once.

Your plan helps you spot any problems before you spend hours writing, and it helps you shape your material into a logical structure: easier for you to write, and easier for your audience to read.

It’s also a great way to blast through any blank page wobbles at the start of a writing session. If you’ve got a plan, you can just copy or type it into your document … and you’re already part-way there.

Try This:

Give different planning methods a go – you don’t have to stick with a linear outline each time. Maybe a mindmap, a set of ideas on index cards, or even a spreadsheet would suit your project better.

Further Reading:

A 5-Step Plan to Improve Every Blog Post You Write, Ali Luke, Copyblogger

Step #3: Use the First Hour of Your Day for Your Main Writing Project

Sometimes, the real problem with finding time to write isn’t that there’s no time at all – it’s that our writing time is scheduled for the wrong part of the day.

If your aim is to “finish the ten things on this list then work on the ebook” … it’s all too easy to let those ten things fill your day. Even if you have a little time left at the end of the day, you’ll probably be creatively frazzled.

The best solution I’ve found is to put writing first. Ideally, set aside an hour – but if that’s just not practical, 15 minutes is fine.

Putting writing first could mean:

  • You use the first hour of your work day for your project … trust me, Twitter and Facebook can wait for an hour.
  • You get up an hour earlier (not my favorite solution – but I did it for eight months when I had a day job, and it let me build my career to the point where I could quit and write full time).
  • You shuffle around some other activities: if you currently head to the gym at 6am, could you go at lunchtime or in the evening instead?

Try This:

For this week only, commit to spending the first 15 minutes of your day (either when you get up or when you start work) on your current writing project. Put a check on the calendar each day you manage it. Next week, aim for 20 minutes per day, and/or more checks.

Further Reading:

Why You Should Get Serious About Your Writing Schedule, Kari, Men with Pens

Step #4: Cut Out or Cut Back

Your time is full already, but at least some of your activities could go in a pinch. This is always going to be a personal decision – something that I might consider essential could be on your list for ditching when life gets hectic, and vice versa.

Here are just a few ideas you might want to consider.

Cut out…

  • Voluntary commitments you don’t enjoy and wish you’d never signed up for. Resign in writing, and don’t leave any room for ambiguity or argument.
  • Time-wasting activities that don’t add much to your life – do you really need to take another Buzzfeed quiz? Try RescueTime to track your computer activity.

Cut down…

  • TV watching. Of course, keep up any must-sees (mine are Game of Thrones and Doctor Who) … but if you’re binging on whole seasons of shows on Netflix, cut back to an hour every evening.
  • Even if money’s tight, can you get a maid service once or twice a month? If that’s not an option, can you delegate to your spouse or kids?

Try This:

Look at your non-writing activities and save some time there too:

  • 10 minutes per day on Twitter and Facebook, instead of 30, could well get you the same results.
  • Template emails will save you time answering common questions, dealing with routine enquiries, and so on.

Further Reading:

Why You Should Flush 90% of Your To-Do List Down the Toilet, Michael Hyatt, MichaelHyatt.com

Step #5: Keep a Time Log

If you’re still struggling, keep a time diary for a week to find out exactly where your time goes.

(If you’ve ever kept a food diary while on a diet, or a spending diary while getting out of debt, you’ll have some idea of how powerful this can be.)

You could use a spreadsheet, a physical notebook, or an app like Toggl. While entering data manually can be a pain, it does make you very aware of how you’re using your time.

Try This:

Be prepared for your time log to throw up some negative emotions – maybe you’re not working as efficiently as you thought. Go easy on yourself, and look for ways to win back just 5 or 10 minutes of productive time each day.

Further Reading:

Why You Really Don’t Have a Time Management Problem, Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing

Step #6: When You’re Writing, Write!

If you’ve set aside 30 minutes to work on a post for your blog, you need to actually write.

That means not stopping after five minutes to check if anything new’s happening on Facebook. It means jotting down any distracting thoughts like “Email John” rather than stopping writing to do them straight away.

When you’re writing (or engaged in any creative activity), you can get into a state of “flow” – you might describe it as “being on a roll” or even “losing track of time”. This is what you’re aiming for, and constantly interrupting yourself will stop you getting there.

Try This:

Work in short bursts. I find that 20 – 45 minutes is about right. If you know you only have to write for another 15 minutes, not for another hour, it’s easier to push yourself to keep going.

Further Reading:

How to Maintain Focus when Writing, Mary Jaksch, Write to Done

You won’t miraculously “find” a few spare hours to write.

You need to make that time – by finding more efficient ways to work and by restructuring other elements of your life to allow your writing to be a priority.

So here’s your first step again: find fifteen minutes, either today or tomorrow, to brainstorm some ideas for one of your current projects.

Get up early, use the ad breaks on TV, write in your notebook on the bus, or whatever it takes. Drop a comment below to tell us what you’ll be doing, and when.

Ali Luke runs Writers’ Huddle, a community / teaching site for all bloggers and writers, with monthly seminars, in-depth ecourses, supportive forums, and more. It’s only open for new members until Friday June 12th, and we’re about to start a new Summer Challenge for accountability (and prizes)! If you think you might be interested, check it out now.

 

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.
Comments
  1. Awesome!! Awesome!

    I started blogging few months back and today I got this article which I should have read before. I could have saved a lot of time which I wasted.

    Anyways I will use this methods for writing better. Any tips for improving my blog cashoverflow.in ?

    • Thanks Pardeep! Glad this was helpful though sorry I didn’t write it sooner. :-)

      In terms of cash flow … be patient! If you’ve been blogging for a few months, you may need to wait a bit longer until you’ve built up a larger readership before you see much cashflow.

  2. Hello Ali,
    All of your 6 steps are really great to get time and enjoy writing. I really enjoyed reading whole post awesomly composed and I can feel the joy you had while writing the post. All I can say is write more.

    Thanks

    • Thanks Abhishek! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. :-) If you click on my name (at the top of my comment), you can visit my blog where you’ll find lots more of my writing.

  3. Hello, Ali

    First of all thanks for your great resource. Finally i got a direction on your detailed article for properly use my time . “When You’re Writing, Write!”it’s really touched me.

    Thanks again.

    Happy Blogging :)

  4. Amazing article, From these simple six steps i learned about writing.Thanks Dareen Rowse.

  5. I really enjoyed the provided steps Darren. I wanted to ask few things : What do you think should be the average length of the articles I add to my blog. Also, how frequently should I add new posts?

    • Glad you enjoyed my guest post! :-)

      Length — depends on your blog and the sort of content you’re publishing. On yours, since it’s about WordPress, I’d think you could have fairly in-depth articles, especially “how to” posts and tutorials. But you might also have some short tips.

      I’ve seen very successful blogs with posts that average 3,000 words (Boost Blog Traffic) and very successful blogs with posts that average about 250 words (Daily Blog Tips) so it’s honestly up to you!

      In terms of how frequently you post, that depends on the length of your posts. If you write really long posts like Boost Blog Traffic, once a week might be plenty (that’s how often they post). If you write really short posts like Daily Blog Tips, daily would work well (the clue’s in their name ;-)).

      Probably the best thing to do is experiment a little and see what length of post, and what frequency, goes down well with your audience.

  6. This is definitely something I’m struggling with at the moment… I set aside time to write, and then become distracted by Facebook and before I know it, a few hours have passed and I’ve achieved nothing. I’ve started to turn the Wi-Fi off on my laptop when writing so I can’t connect to the internet. It has helped a lot.

    I love your idea about working in short bursts, committing to 30 minutes of writring is much easier to wrap your head around than committing to 3 or 4 hours.

    Thanks for the fantastic tips… writing is at the top of my to-do list today.

    • Thanks Krystal! I think we all battle against distraction … far too often, I pop onto Facebook to send a quick message and find myself reading something that a friend’s linked to on Buzzfeed.

      Hope your writing today goes (or went) well. :-)

  7. Hey Ali,

    Great resource for addressing one of the biggest challenges of content creators. I’m fully behind “Use the First Hour of Your Day for Your Main Writing Project”. It simply works great for me. If you start the day working on that, it’s less likely fo life to get in the way. Thanks!

  8. i liked these steps or ideas. This ideas are very useful. now i can save much time than before. i am using a time log as you said in step 5 . its helping me a lot.

    thanks for the advice’s .

    it really helped

  9. Hi..
    Thank you for posting this blog and sharing this information follow these six steps to make plenty of time to write .Thanks for the fantastic tips

  10. Yap, time is an important fact if you are a blogger. As a newbie blogger I find your post useful. I think the 6 steps are essential. Thanks for such a useful post.

  11. Thanks Ali
    Finding time to write is one of the most important steps to take in your journey as a writer, but all too often we make it a low priority. It’s oxymoronic, but that’s what we tend to do as writers.

    The structure of your article, and offering a specific solution “Try this” backed with links for further reading is a great structure!

    For me, the most helpful tips are #1 – brainstorm and batch ideas, #2 create a clear plan, #5 write in short bursts. These are great tips that could be applied to any number of industries and activities, not limited to writing and blogging.

    Would you agree that brainstorming may come from reading and researching what other writers are up to? Such as reading other blogs and books to help spur creativity? It’s one thing I like to do as a way to create ideas, do you think this is a good technique?

    • Feel free to “borrow” the struture, David. :-) And yes, a lot of this applies to writing and indeed idea-creation in general, not just blogging.

      Of course you can be inspired by reading and researching — I think that could well be a step 0 for this list. In particular, you might find you get some good posts from either areas where you disagree with what others have written, or where you feel you can go into much more depth about something they’ve only touched on.

    • I absolutely agree that what you read and research, it can spark great ideas. You might, for instance, find a brief mention of something that you go on to investigate and write about in detail — or you might read a blog post that you disagree with, so you write a piece that gives the other side of things.

      The only slight dangers here are (a) spending all your time reading and researching, and never actually getting around to writing and (b) ending up essentially repeating what’s being said by other bloggers — the “echo chamber” effect. I’m sure you’re avoiding these, but thought I’d mention them for anyone else reading!

      Glad you liked the structure — do feel free to borrow it. :-)

  12. The good thing about writing is that you can ramble off the top of your head in oh word press blog or website knowing it’s your own unique style of writing. Additionally, writing should not only be enjoyable, but also inspiring because search engines or always looking for “lots and lots of content.” As search engines are looking for [lots and lots of content], it should inspire people to write about almost any and everything that comes to mind. Some topics include education, fitness, health care, making money online in affiliate marketing, pursuing a better life community and fellowship, spirituality, and more.

    Other topics that are enjoyable to write about consists of family related things, cooking tips for people who are on a diet, best places to get quality food at discount prices such as seafood, fruit, and lean meats. The Internet is a place where people can create a full-time income from affiliate marketing and selling their own products and services just off of the strength of creating content for their blog or website. This is the beauty of the Internet knowing you can increase your financial stability off of your own creativity. Whether you start a business or strive to improve your health out of “inspiration or desperation,” never give up no matter how long it takes to succeed. That’s true transformation!

  13. Writing being the first thing to do on the list is the best advice in this list.

    • And writing is also good in the morning because that’s when your creative juices + anabolic hormones are erect.

  14. It had me on Step #1: Come Up With a Bunch of Ideas for Your Blog. Having lots of ideas is great, for me I take note of them just in case I need one. Well writing is a process.

  15. These Six Steps very great .I like These all steps .Thank for sharing These Six Steps for us

  16. These are really great tips. I myself have hit a roadblock when it comes to content for my tech tutorial website. I’ll try a few of these and see how it goes. Thanks.

  17. Ali,

    Great post. I appreciate all 6 steps to find the time to write. I can definitely relate as I like most everyone else have a full-time job, 15 month old son which leaves you with very little free time. I get up really early usually 4:00 a.m. to get my writing done as that is the best time for me. Fortunately or unfortunately for me I am a morning person and my production is better in the morning. One last thing to add is if blogging is important to you you will find the time to write no matter what your circumstances are.

    Thanks,

    Kurt

    • That is incredibly early, Kurt! Congrats to you for carving out some writing time — a full time job plus a little one makes it a real challenge to do so. Good point that we all find time for what’s important to us.

  18. Hi Ali,

    Great post you just shared with us here. Thank You. I am really getting back into my blogging after giving up a number of years. I do keep questioning myself a lot though thinking have I took on too much!

    I gave up on blogging to concentrate on my web development business which is still my main earner, I did miss blogging and writing though so I have fired up that bad boy again. I have also set up a side-project and that’s build a bespoke Social Network for us Bloggers (Think of me a a British version of The Zuck in his back bedroom). Have I took on too much? Well Im taking my time on the Social Network and allotting about 5 hours a week on that for now!

    Oops I just forgot I have also registered to take my BSc (hons) Degree in Computing and IT part time of course but that’s still 15 to 20 hours a week! Anyway I have learned a lot about planning my day from a good buddy and Client called Ryan Biddulph who preaches that we all should aim to write every day for at least an hour!
    This guy writes 1 7000 word post a week, released an eBook each week and writes for his clients blog’s each week as well! The guy is a Dynamo!

    Anyway thanks for sharing your valuable tips! Sharing from Brum.
    – PD

  19. It’s always a good idea to take the first step in writing the longest post in the morning simply because that’s when your anabolic hormones and energy levels are up to par as well as your creativity. This way, not only will you put out quality content, but also improve the likelihood of getting better search engine rankings by writing longer content and publishing to your site first thing in the morning.

  20. This is great! Thank you for putting it out there. I am definitely juggling multiple priorities, and any tips to help me focus and take the time needed are appreciated.

  21. Thank you for the excellent information follow these six steps to make plenty of time to write .

  22. Thank you for the good tips. I also find that it is easier to write in short busts rather than one long session. The mind can only concentrate so long at a time.

  23. Thanks, Ali…
    Step #3 is a great one, as it helps you get the toughest part out of your way early. Once you’re done, you feel an immense sense of accomplishment knowing that you won’t be putting off the writing for later.

    Ryan Biddulph, from the “Blogging from Paradise” blog, recently published a post on reaching 10,000 words in one day. Between his article and yours, people really have all the information and inspiration they need to change their writing habits forever.

    Thanks for the outstanding article!

    Elvis M.

  24. Anything that can help me get focussed on writing is a God send Ali. I’ve started writing post outlines on the train each day and it makes a world of difference. Breaking up the components of writing (Ie. Research, writing and proofing) makes writing great content a whole lot easier and not to mention faster.

  25. Thanks for sharing these six steps, they are very informative.

  26. Great stuff, Ali! :)

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. LOL

  27. Great tips! Thanks a lot!
    When I tried to keep a detailed time log it revealed some time-wasting activities that I never noticed before. That’s crazy how much time I was loosing without even realizing it. I’m going to try Rescue Time, thanks for the advice.

  28. All of your six steps ar extremely nice to urge time and luxuriate in writing. i actually enjoyed reading whole post awesomly composed and that i will feel the enjoyment you had whereas writing the post. All I will say is write a lot of.

    Thanks

  29. Having a laptop with a good speech recognition program installed on it and fully charged laptop battery enables bloggers and content marketers to create “lots and lots of content” in their spare time, thus increasing the probability of getting better search engine rankings by creating content “on the fly.”

  30. These tips are very useful for every writer to get a boost start. Thanks for sharing with us.

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