For the month of May, I set out on a personal goal of writing every day. It was in response to my paltry activity in April. Working towards that goal taught me useful tools, strategies, and habits.
Tools I used
I used an Editorial Calendar template on Trello as a guide to help me lay out what content I wanted to write. I did not entirely follow the template, but it did help me visualize the steps needed to flesh out my content. It made me understand why there are entire marketing teams for this!
This website helped me generate ideas for what to write about. Copy.ai has a content generator that spits out headlines for the fellow writer to read and write the accompanying content for. The free version was useful for my tasks.
Nothing fancy! I used the ‘Focus’ feature during the times I wanted full concentration.
I used the Pomodoro Method to bolster me to write content within short time spans.
Things that Happened
I ended up journaling for the most part. However, it was still meaningful to me. Through some of those entries, I garnered ideas out of recollections of events I attended, or thoughts made in retrospect.
Consistency > Inspiration
There are going to be times where you do not feel like writing. It’s normal. Writing consistently means a tough balance between rest and productivity.
Research shows that restorative rest can lead to improved productivity. So, that means you decide the boundaries between rest and pushing yourself to finish that article. Being protective of your boundaries helps prevent burning out.
Through combination of consistency and love of craft, writing grew to be a habit.
Things that Didn’t Happen
You know how I said I’d write every day for the month of May? Turns out, I lied. I didn’t actually end up writing 1,000 to 2,000 words every day. There were probably 4 days I took as rest days or otherwise did not duly meet the word target. As I mentioned before, rest is just as important and productive.
I had the foresight to put together a content calendar. However, I didn’t follow the calendar so strictly, nor did I use it judiciously.
5 Things I Learned
1. Have a Content Strategy.
Structure is important, from content planning to outline to scheduling blocks of times to write. My specialty is not in content writing, but I learned about the AIDA content writing framework and how it could help enrich my writing towards proposing an idea.
2. Research and Editing are just as Significant and Time-Consuming as Writing.
Research is important! When you’re writing an article and presenting facts or opinions, making sure you have accurate and legitimate sources helps bring credence to your claims.
Editing and research are important parts of the writing process, sometimes even more time-consuming. Research helps ensure that your content is accurate, your claims are based off reliable sources, and that you aren’t spreading misinformation. Editing rearranges and removes content to bring out your points more clearly, corrects any grammatical or syntax errors, and helps structure your content.
3. The First Draft is Seriously Freeing
I subscribe to the idea that the first draft can be messy, unbridled, and chaotic. Then as you refine the article to better fit requirements, you can cull, edit, and provide more research material as needed. I like this idea as it discourages building an emotional connection to your content. It helps you edit, write, or change things up easily because you wouldn’t be as attached to those words.
4. You Decide if You Need an Outline
It depends on what you are writing. Some writers can sort of traipse around freely about their writing. That is, they can freehand things as they go and build the story as they see fit, as they are creating it. That can be more easily accomplished in creative writing.
For content writing, I believe that at least having a general outline helps make writing faster for your article. An outline helps structure your points along with your selected framework, and using both helps illustrate your ideas. Ultimately, that decision is up to you.
5. Done is Better than Perfect
Writing is not always pretty or inspired tip-tapping away on the keyboard. There will be some days where you will have to slog through the creation work. Sometimes the content is not what you’re passionate about, or you don’t think you have enough energy to see the article through to completion. Yet, you need to meet deadline.
This is something that I’m continually learning to improve on. For content that is going to be on the web, the aphorism, “Done is better than perfect,” can apply here. Changes can be made quickly in online articles. That flexibility may not be afforded for other industries, especially for documentation that is primarily in print form, or if there is more liability if documentation isn’t completely accurate to the product. In that case, it makes sense that the workflow would be more stringent. The phrase still applies here, because in my experience, there is always something to be improved, or otherwise, there will always be work to do.
Would I do it Again?
Honestly, probably not, and not in this format! Should there be a next time, I would allocate more time for rest days, research, and editing. I’m glad I took on this goal, as now I understand my own strengths and boundaries, and can be better equipped for writing, especially through uninspired sessions.
However, doing this has reminded me that I enjoy writing. There were some days where I did not want to look at a keyboard, but doing this affirmed my desire to write.