Action Catalyst Blog

How Busy People Can Still Be Bloggers (My 4 Part Writing Process)

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Writing is certainly not for everyone.

Writing takes more than skill; it takes commitment.

Interestingly enough, I never grew up caring about or even liking writing. And I never once imagined I would grow up to become a writer and have it be such an important part of my life and business.

But I’ve fallen in love with writing for a few reasons

– It helps me sharpen my own thinking about lessons I’m learning and concepts I’m wrestling with.

– It gives me a historical archive of questions I’ve answered and it documents much of what our team at Southwestern Consulting and me, stand for and believe in.

– It is a routine that forces regular self-reflection and self-improvement.

– It is a skill that has come in handy as critical in a variety of different areas of our business.

– It is a platform that multiplies my time because it requires the same amount of work regardless of if ten people are reading it or 10,000 people are which helps us reach more people.

But another benefit I didn’t realize until recently is that it is also a discipline that helps keep me on schedule.

I find that people tend to think writing must take a massive amount of time but it really doesn’t. For me, writing is much more about consistency than intensity. (My exercise strategy actually follows that same principle.)

And while I wouldn’t recommend writing as the best short term revenue producing activity for most businesses, it does add a tremendous amount of value in a multitude of ways over the long term.

If you’ve ever wanted to write but don’t think you have enough time, maybe you can try some of these habits I’ve developed as part of my own process:

 

1.Capture the Idea – The hardest part of writing is usually getting started, but you can neutralize that challenge by just keeping a list of things to write about as you have the ideas but then you wait to actually do the writing until you have the time.I keep my list of topics on my notepad in my cell phone. And almost every blog starts as a topic that comes from one of these places:

– A question that someone asks me that I’m going to answer anonymously and publicly (this very article is an example of that)

– A new lesson that I’ve learned that I want to clarify and remember for myself

– Reinforcing a timeless principle I’ve learned from Southwestern Company culture or some other trusted source of truth, or

– Sharing a piece of advice that I would want to give to someone in my life or want to make available to people (like my newborn son) at some point in the future.

One caveat is that if you get into an intense personal situation or experience in your life it’s usually best to not write about those – at least not right away. It’s best to let those situations incubate and allow some time to pass for reflection so you don’t say something out of emotion that you’ll regret later. Plus, time often changes your perspective and shapes what you want to say.

 

2.Restrict Your Focus – Another major hurdle people struggle with when it comes to writing is that they have so much to say about something that they don’t know where to get started. And then like I used to, they sometimes end up with with a large unorganized blob of disconnected mess.

Combat that indulgence by forcing yourself to focus on only one idea with each blog or article. Answer only one question. Give only one piece of advice. Share only one concept. Have only one central message. Where you get into trouble is by trying to fit too much in and not knowing where to draw the line.

I first learned this lesson in speaking during my journey to the Toastmasters World Championships when one of my mentors said, “Most speakers take a 9 minute speech and try to squeeze it into 7 minutes (the max time allowed in the contest). The winners take a 4 minute speech and deliver it in 6.”

 

3.Block Your Time – Like so many things, we just need to find a spot in our calendar to make time for it. Do I write in the middle of the day during prime business generating hours? No.

For me, I write about 95% of my articles during one time only: during take off and landing on airplanes. It’s the one time I’m not allowed to have my computer in front me and I’m also disconnected from wifi; so I’ve found that writing is one of the most maximizing ways to use that time.

And it’s about 12 minutes up and 12 minutes down which is exactly the perfect amount of time it should take to write one article on one topic and do a light proofread.

 

4.Build Your Business – As I mentioned earlier, writing is not the strategy I would suggest for short term business growth; it is a slow long term strategy that can pay dividends but usually only over a long period of time.

That said, content marketing can still be a very useful  tool to a business. While it will never outperform the short term efficiency of picking up the phone and talking to someone about your business ie sales, it can sometimes help you build a broad reputation of trust with a large number of people if you do it well and consistently for a very long period of time.

So make sure you have a strategy for using your writing to capture leads and generate interest for your business that you can follow up with. In fact one of the best things you can do is brainstorm a list of every question your perfect prospect might have and answer them one at a time. After enough time they’ll realize they need to talk to you more!

 

So don’t buy into the excuse that you don’t have time to write.

It’s no different than making the time to work out a couple times a week, review your goals, recite your affirmations, read the Bible, or any number of other positive habits that take a little bit of time consistently and regularly.

It doesn’t take that long.

What it takes is a decision and a commitment.

In fact “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” is almost never the truth about why people don’t create positive habits.

The truth is that you just need to find a way to efficiently fit in the things that are important to you.

It can be done and it doesn’t have to take a long time or be complicated.

So if it is your desire, write on my friend.

Write on.

 

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