I write blogs about stress, so the notion of making that process itself stress-free is of great interest to me.
I’ve been writing on natural health for nearly 15 years and the style and content has changed greatly over that time. I can definitely say it has evolved; this started out with more factual nutritional stuff and finding my way to being that all-important ‘chatty’ has been one of the hardest hurdles.
I’m also a yoga teacher, so the emphasis on ‘letting go’ that yoga encompasses has seeped into all aspects of my life. I once heard the phrase “published is the new perfect” and whilst I will always be a stickler for good spelling, grammar and structure, that attitude of just getting it done and letting go of the expectation for every blog to be the perfect work of art does allow one to press the send or publish button with less fear.
The best blogs kind of write themselves.
You know the ones that just flow, like you’re channelling some greater knowledge from above… compared to the ones that are like pulling teeth! For me, there are five key stages for stress-free blogging:
- The subject has been running around in your head anyway and just bubbles up to the surface. If you’ve found your niche, are talking to members of your ‘tribe’ (yep, marketing language!) and know your subject well enough, there’s always something waiting to be said. Listen to those inner voices, keep lists of them (I use a notes app on my phone) and let the blogs evolve all by themselves.
- You allowed the salient points to jump out and organise themselves. Unless you get a sudden brief there’s usually enough time for seeds to grow. Stepping back and making space for some right-brain creativity, means there’s not just a forcing of logical progression, but you can also retain a more playful air that makes for a much more readable end product. I’m often musing on a subject and chatting to myself about it whilst washing up or walking.
- You create a skeleton structure to flesh out – I tend to create a Word document when I get a brief (if a guest blog) or decide a subject to schedule into my marketing plan. Even if it’s just a title and a word count at the top, it just feels like progress has been made and that sets the scene for the thoughts to grow, develop and make their way to the page. Then I might add some subtitles or the first phrases of a numbered list like this one. If there’s a structure in place, it just seems a question of filling it and that can help arrange the thoughts so the content just flows out when ready.
- You don’t have to write everything in order. The structure above allows me to flit around the page to bits that flow easily and come back to parts where I might feel stuck (I sometimes highlight them) and it’s like putting a jigsaw together.
- Create a little fear at the end – this is the essence of the ‘good stresses’ I describe in my book The De-Stress Effect. I work best when I actually leave the finishing right until the last minute and then knock it out in under an hour. Leaving more time makes it a more laborious process, with often less inspired results as there’s a certain sharpness that a deadline creates. This can take a bit of practice as you need to trust you’ll actually get it done!