Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about increasing one’s writing output. I know one writer who’s made a remarkable goal of finishing five (yes, FIVE) posts a day. I’ve also had other writers ask how they can break through their walls when they can’t seem to finish anything.
Despite being a daily writer, I happen to be a very slow writer. As much as I would like to be the kind of person who easily finishes one blog or article an hour, that simply isn’t me.
Most pieces take me three to five hours to complete, while a longer story will take the whole day, maybe two. Actually, I’ve come to realize that I don’t mind being so slow.
The thing is, writing is how I process my life. It is, in fact, a huge part of my positive mental hygiene. If I were to rush that process, I think it could hinder me in a very personal way.
That said, I do know the difference between my process and simply getting stuck. I know when I need a break, and when I’m actively procrastinating or shooting myself in the foot.
I also know when when I’m struggling no matter how much I want to be productive.
1. Make a list.
I am big on lists. I love them. Checklists are my go-to tool for getting more work done, especially when I feel kinda dead on my feet.
Make a list of all the blog posts you might work on today. Sometimes, when you’re struggling to finish any of your writing, you really just need some extra inspiration.
Ten solid post ideas are simply ten solid ideas. It doesn’t mean the timing is right for all ten to be written right away. You might be able to finish another story that’s more honest and true for you in this moment.
If you keep a running list of stories, you’ll have a better chance of running into one that really inspires you right now.
2. Set an attainable goal.
Five stories a day is more than most folks can handle. It’s definitely too much for me. Even so, I can get through one or two posts most days.
What’s an attainable goal for you? One blog post every other day? Two posts a week? Three a month?
Set a small, but achievable goal. Don’t worry about making it too small. When you’re struggling, small goals work so well because hitting them can help you feel better about yourself.
Goals that are too big can chip away at your self-esteem. Set yourself up to win with little goals.
3. Make an outline for your next post(s).
Personally, I tend to write without any sort of plan or outline. I like to see where my story organically goes instead. But when I’m struggling, an outline can really help me reign in my thoughts.
One thing that can really help me is to outline a list type story. Write your title out along with each point.
There’s a difference between a thoughtful, bullet point story and a Buzzfeed listicle. So, go ahead and work on a list or tips story if that helps you move forward.
4. Keep doing the next right thing.
There’s this big theme in Frozen II that says when you don’t know what to do, “do the next right thing.”
They’re talking about small steps, right steps, without overthinking it.
I think that you can get through writing much in the same way. Nobody knows what to do all of the time. Sometimes, all you can do is just take the next logical step.
In this case? Finish one blog post. Don’t worry about it being good or bad. Just get it done because it’s the next right thing. When it’s done, you can do the next right thing. Write some more.
5. Be honest when you’re not feeling it.
Has anyone ever told you that you don’t need to feel like writing all the time? That it’s okay if you’re not feeling it?
Every writer on the planet goes through times where writing just feels hard. You don’t have to feel bad about that. But, I think you should be honest with yourself about it.
These days? I get a little more easily burned out. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and there’s a lot that I’m working on in addition to my writing. As a result, I’m in a different place than I was a year ago.
There are more days than usual where I struggle to get into the proper headspace to write productively. But do you know what? I’ve discovered that in the long run, I’m much more productive when I just admit that.
6. Clear your head.
There are plenty of different reasons why you might struggle to finish a blog post. You might be stressed and overwhelmed. You might be distracted. You may not be disciplined about your writing.
But you may just need to clear your head.
Take a mini reboot.
Give yourself a chance to regroup, refocus, or whatever it is that you need to do to get back to your writing.