You know the importance of connecting with your audience by educating, entertaining, inspiring and sharing your products or services. But sometimes, no matter how much you know you need to consistently write and deliver content, you just can’t seem to sit down and get words on the page. And the more you worry about it, the worse you feel about your procrastination and lack of productivity.
Instead of investing all of your energy in feeling awful about yourself, here’s what I do when a deadline is looming large and my muse doesn’t strike.
#1: I refuse to be controlled by a muse.
I don’t know about you, but my muse can be awfully flighty. If I waited for her to show up when I asked her to, she’d stand me up at least 90 percent of the time. Although I welcome her whenever she does decide to join me, I’ve come to accept that she’s a pretty unreliable friend.
But, here’s a secret….I’ve also discovered that my muse has terrible FOMO (a.k.a. fear of missing out). When I start writing, I’ll notice her flitting and floating around the periphery of my brain getting all creative and demanding. She hates to be ignored once the writing gets going.
Now that we have that “must wait for the muse” fallacy out of the way, what are some practical ways you can get the writing done when you really don’t feel like writing?
Brainstorm. Brainstorming can get your creative juices flowing and get you excited about content that you want to share with your audience. Next time you’re sitting around waiting—maybe on your kids during an activity or on a notoriously late healthcare provider—pull out your phone, journal, planner, or a napkin—whatever suits.
Quickly jot down ideas of topics you want to cover. What are your audience’s greatest fears and desires? How do you resolve those? What are the questions your audience keeps asking you about? What are topics or questions you saw in other groups that relate to your audience? What interactions or stories can you share that relate to something your audience is dealing with? Keep a running idea file on your phone and/or in a journal.
If ideas aren’t coming to you while sitting, take yourself for a walk and record your ideas into your phone. Walking helps with our creative thinking and is an excellent time to brainstorm. Plus, it’s healthy!
Outline. Schedule 30-60 minutes to flesh out three ideas by outlining them. And then stop. Don’t pressure yourself to write out the drafts too. It will feel like an accomplishment to get the outlines done.
Outline content ideas once or twice a week so that you can easily pick something and run with it when it’s time to batch write.
Batch write. Set aside two to three hours to write several pieces of content at once. This could include blog posts, podcast copy, video script, newsletters and/or social media posts you want to share in the upcoming 60 days.
By blocking this time out on your calendar, you’ll feel mentally prepared to begin. Get comfortable, grab your favorite beverage and shut your door so no one will disturb you during your writing time.
Every 45 minutes or so be sure to get up and move around, stretch, and replenish your water supply. This is an ideal time to transition to the next piece your working on too.
Set your timer. My timer is my productivity wand. When I set my timer for an hour, suddenly my mind says, “it’s go time” and I just write. Because I’ve created a timeframe in which I must get the writing done, I’m less likely to get distracted by the siren call of social media or my cantankerous inner editor, who loves to wag her finger at me about grammar, spelling, sentence structure and punctuation. Lady, I’ll take care of that when my timer goes off!
Some people feel energized when writing in community. If you want to try it, pull together a few friends who also need to get writing done. Set aside a couple of hours to meet in a library study space or co-working space. Take breaks for chatting and snacks (because let’s be real) and get your writing goals met together.
Get an accountability partner. If you aren’t good at holding yourself to deadlines you set for yourself, ask a friend or colleague if they will hold you accountable. Offer to be their accountability partner too. Check in with each other on a particular date. Knowing someone is going to check in with you and hold you accountable as you work toward your goals can be an excellent motivator.
Polish. Now that you have content written, it’s much easier to go in and tweak and edit. Schedule 30 minutes to an hour to polish your content up, make it clear and interesting to read. Then, you’re ready to schedule it and share.
By breaking up your writing into chunks, it will feel less overwhelming. You’ll be amazed by how much you get done and out into the world–no muse required.
Got questions or tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!