While it's true that today's bloggers don't exclusively create written content, good writing chops are still critical for blogging success. Today I'm going to share some great habits I've learned over the years that can help you grow as a blogger.
1. Establish A System
Think about how you've gotten your writing done in the past. Think about the days it flowed and was easy and snappy, and the days where you felt like your hands were typing in mud. See if you can tease out what worked on those snappy days and what failed on those other days. Take that information and build a system that will help you stay on track when you're writing.
2. Have a Dedicated Writing Space
I wouldn't survive without having an office. I'm not the only family member home much of the time, so I need that space. I realize not everyone can have a dedicated room, but try to carve out a writing corner where you can. Decorate it and make it your own.
3. Read For Pleasure BEFORE Writing
You know that fifteen minutes you spend each morning while drinking coffee flipping through Facebook? Stop it. Instead, read something beautifully written. Read a couple of blog posts written by writers you admire. Try to read at least one funny thing. Read something outside your niche, too.
4. Write Something Each Day NOT For Your Blog
I can see your eyes rolling from here. Who has time, right? But practicing writing that isn't blog focused is important. I use my daily morning pages for my off-blog writing, and when I can, a bit of work on my book that will someday be finished. It helps fine-tune your writing.
5. Adopt A Schedule and Defend It
My writing mentor taught me this. She dedicated 8 to 11am to writing every day, and unless I was actually on fire, she doesn't answer her phone or emails. She sets a schedule and defends it. You need to build the same habit. If you don't, writing is pushed to the side and doesn't get the attention it needs.
6. Train (Not Kill) Your Inner Critic
Everyone has negative voices in your head. Morning pages are meant to shut down that inner critic by teaching you to write without editing. I've learned over the years that my inner critic is actually a useful tool. You need to tease out the difference between your inner critic and the negative voices installed in your head by, maybe, that teacher you had in fifth grade who said you were a bad writer. Honor your inner critic, have self compassion, and train it to be your ally.
7. Listen To Music (Ambient When Possible)
Fill your space with beautiful music while you write. If you can't write with music on, play it when you edit. Music soothes your brain and will help you feel more connected to the story. Figure out what music works for you and what doesn't.
8. Walk Before You Write, Or If You're Stuck
Walking (or any exercise, really) is a great way to sort your thoughts out before you write—and it's a brilliant way to break through a stuck point. I walk the dog and allow my thoughts to drift while I walk to figure out how to tackle that writing problem.
9. Decrease Your Isolation
If you're a remote worker like I am, you may find yourself spending days without seeing the faces or hearing the voices of people you aren't related to. I try to Skype or call a friend a couple of times a week, just as a sort of reset button. So join a group, call a friend, or meet someone for coffee once a week to keep yourself sane.
10. End Your Day With Fiction
Stop reading industry books or political nonfiction at the end of the day. Instead, dive into some smart, funny, and mindless fiction. While it's true that romance novels, thrillers, and (my fave) urban fantasy books aren't high art, they do often feature snappy writing and great storytelling. Enjoy a trip into your imagination at the end of your day. It will make you a better story teller, and of course, bloggers are storytellers at heart.
Make the Time. You're Worth It.
I know this list can seem overwhelming. But you—and your writing—are worth taking the time to become a better writer.