In the earliest days of your blog, you probably start out sounding quite a bit like other people. You read blogs and you try to emulate and mimic the best and the brightest out there. To some degree this even works. But after a while, you come to realize that you’re not that authentic, you’re not that genuine and you hate your own writing. When I go back and look at the oldest of my posts I can’t help but think “wow, this really sucks. I can’t believe I wrote this.” But somewhere along the way you make a shift and this is the next phase in your evolution.
Finding a Voice
People say that it takes anywhere from 6 months to 1 year to find your voice as a blogger. That said I think this is the most challenging part of your evolution as a blogger. That’s because there is no right or wrong way to do it. There’s no formula for it. You just keep writing and eventually words just start to flow. One thing I will say is this. You know you’ve found your voice when people meet you in person after reading your blog and you’re exactly what they expect from you. I do think there is a distinct moment when you really do start to find your voice and it happens in a particular blog post like these:
Getting in the Groove
This is really the next transition I’ve found. It’s just a groove where words seem to flow. In fact when you get to this stage, you’re able to accomplish some interesting things like consistently writing a blog post in 20 minutes or less. You have a routine for your writing like getting up and writing first thing in the morning. You’re able to continually pump out content and the fuel for your creative fire burns stronger than it’s ever burned before. You’re firing on all cylinders and getting ready to take over the world. Then out of nowhere, this whole routine stops working. The structure that you’ve built around your ability for creative expression crumbles and your onto the next phase.
Write a Blog Post in 20 minutes or Less
One of the things I realized as of starting my new job is that I will have to get much more efficient about writing blog posts. I have a very simple to-do list system. I use a very basic application called list app and I break up my list into 3 categories
High Priority: These are the tasks that are on my must-complete list every day. I don’t look at anything else until everything here has been completed.
Mid Priority: These things get back burned quite a bit, but for the most part they are very tiny fixes. I used to have a low priority list, but was just excessive.
Blog Topics: One of my favorite uses of Anxiety is to use it for jotting down blog post ideas. As you see, at any given time I have 25+ ideas for topics.
The Stopwatch Method
What is the Stopwatch Method?
It’s exactly what it sounds like. The above screen shot is from an application called Appimac Timer I discovered when I was looking for something that would allow me to track the time that I was putting into every post I was writing. At the time of writing this, it was the first day of using the stopwatch method. I’ve probably written 5-6 blog posts. Each took roughly 20 minutes.
Implementing the Stopwatch Method
Time Limits: One of the things I learned studying top bloggers is the fact that many don’t spend more than 20 minutes on a blog post. Instead they force themselves to stay within that time limit. If you set a time limit you’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll start writing and how quickly things will flow. Find a simple stopwatch application like the one above. Set time limits and start writing.
Distraction Free Writing Tools: The next key to making this work is the use of a distraction free writing tool. Most A-list bloggers will tell you that they use distraction free writing tools. I currently use MacJournal, but there are several others as well. WriteRoom is another popular tool that serves the same purpose.
If you are disciplined about using the Stopwatch Method, I think you’ll find a significant increase in your productivity and writing a blog post in 20 minutes won’t seem as daunting as it sounds.
When you move to this phase, things get interesting. You start setting a much higher bar for yourself. The structured step by step approach you were using doesn’t work because none of the masterpieces you’ve created came about in this way. Most of them were just random thoughts when you said “that sounds like a good idea for a blog post.” This is when everything you’re doing as a blogger starts to become part of your inner compass. It’s no longer something you do, it’s who you are. The pressure you’re putting on yourself goes up dramatically and there’s no rhyme or reason to the way you write or the way you operate. You write when you have something to say. You write in snippets, you write long posts and you assemble it all like pieces of a puzzle and think to yourself “I wonder if they’ll hate it….ah screw it… I’m pushing publish.” This is the phase of my evolution I’d like to think I’m in. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write about next and I say crazy things about how making too many plans limits your potential. So I might be batshi#$# crazy.
We always seem to be looking for this moment when we can say “I’ve made it.” But you have to question if there really is a point where you’ve made it.
- Have you made it when your rich and successful?
- Have you made it when you found the love of your life?
- Have you made it when you’ve crossed off all the items on your list?
- Have you made it because other people have said so?
But there’s a problem with arriving somewhere, whether it be a goal or destination. You operate from a mind set, that you’re not already those things. So you actually are limiting your own innate capabilities. Strange how that works. Spend a day with Mark Harai and you’ll see the difference between somebody who is on a path to “made it” and somebody who lives that mind set day in and day out. The one thing he’s told me over the last several weeks that will stand out in my mind is that every single day we’re making progress. We all have a purpose here and everything that happens in our lives is about fulfilling that purpose. Maybe it’s becoming a published author. Maybe it’s being the most amazing parent in the world. Maybe it’s changing the lives of people in ways you never thought possible. All I know is that when you’ve truly arrived, there will be no sense of arrival or accomplishment because it won’t be important anymore. You’ll just be playing for your love of the game.