I had a late lunch with my friend Monica yesterday, and part of our discussion involved why I haven’t written a blog in quite some time. I won’t go into those reasons here, but if you’re interested you can read it here. Get ready for a long read though. I’ll touch on that again here in just a minute…
Monica specializes in content creation and marketing strategies for bloggers. Her material is outstanding and if you are a blogger struggling to get your message out, I highly recommend you check out her website here. She is also a caring, friendly and supportive advocate for others in her circle going through blogging challenges (like me!) and whether she likes it or not, I’m going to steal some of her suggestions from our meeting yesterday and share them with you here.
This blog post is mainly for myself, I might add, because it also outlines a lot of the reasons I’ve been such a slacker the past couple of months. The underlying thread here is simplicity: In a purely practical sense, nothing is complicated or overwhelming until we decide it is, and that’s how we often get stuck.
- Keep blog posts short. Today most everyone’s attention span is…wait a second I think I see a squirrel over there…okay sorry, attention spans are short. If your blog posts read like an epic poem (like some of my prior blogs) you’re wasting most of your time because most will not read it all. Monica says a good succinct blog post should be between 500 and 1000 words, never over 1500.
- Break up long blogs into shorter ones. This is simply brilliant, especially for someone as verbose as I tend to be. If you do have to write thousands of words to get your point across, break it up into a series of smaller blogs. The genius here is that most bloggers struggle with coming up with content consistently. Turn that enormous single blog post into 3 or 5 little blogs and you’re really doing yourself and your readers a favor.
- Write small paragraphs. Monica suggests keeping paragraphs at around 3-5 sentences. Not only does this make it easier on your readers to digest your information, it makes it easier on me, Mr. Analysis Paralysis. It allows me to write my ideas down in little chunks that are easier to just get down and out of my head, instead of one big complicated idea woven throughout an enormous paragraph that can be daunting to even start writing. Same goes for sentences. Try to keep the structure short and simple.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact it will never be perfect and actually being less than perfect is better because at least the damn thing got written, and I can always come back and edit later to make it better. I’m a recovering pathological perfectionist and the belief that my work must be perfect has stabbed me in the back more times than I can remember. Perfect is crap. Just get it down and come back later if you need to.
- Don’t let the title stop you. Something I often struggle with in crafting a piece of writing is making sure it’s done in the proper order: “First comes the title, then the introduction, some ideas leading into the body, some supporting ideas and then a closing message”, and if it isn’t written in that order then it doesn’t get written. I told Monica I was going to write this blog last night, and I knew roughly what I wanted to say, but instead sat there staring at a blank blog editor because I had to have a title first. This morning she texted me “Where’s that blog?!” and whammo. There’s my title (thank you Monica). I can write the ending first, the middle, or just pieces of it, and I can rearrange it or stitch it together later.
- Schedule yourself and your blogs. I lead a pretty busy life (don’t we all?) and I tend to schedule my time for writing blogs. But guess what? Life gets in the way sometimes and that causes blogs to not get written, which then gives me the opportunity to beat myself up over it, which further helps the blog to never get written. As technically savvy as I am I sometimes forget that I can schedule my blog postings out in advance. I can write 2, 3 or 4 blogs in a single writing session if I want to, then schedule them out so they’ll still get posted whether i get swamped with life or not.
So there you have it, or should I say there I have it. Please note that if you’re not a blogger or a writer these ideas can still apply to you whether you are an artist, a craftsman, a musician or even a consultant. Perfectionism and analysis paralysis affects a lot of people in all walks of life. Continually reminding yourself that life doesn’t have to be perfect, that it actually is much simpler than we make it, helps create a less stressful, more successful and more joyous life.
My next blog (which I am about to write and schedule) will cover the importance of writing every single day – not only writing to yourself in your Thoughtwriting sessions, but writing or creating every single day.
Make it a great one!