Monday, February 13, 2012

The Blog-A-Day Challenge

Recently, I was challenged to write a blog post every day (I apologize for spamming your Facebooks and Twitters with updates).  This challenge was issued to myself and a collection of other bloggers, but I had an unfair advantage.  I have been writing professionally for six years now, and after working for for four of those six years and writing four books, I have learned how to produce large volumes of content on a daily basis.  I have gotten a few emails from aspiring writers (and in truth, I am still a young writer myself), so I thought that some of you would find my tips helpful.  At the very least, I hope it saves you a few years of trial and error.

1. Read and listen.  If you are going to write consistently on one topic, you need to be on top of the latest developments in that field.  Subscribe to major RSS feeds.  Participate in the relevant communities.  You need to know not only what is happening, but you also need to know what readers in your community care about and what they are talking about.  You won't be breaking any news this way, but you can synthesize multiple news stories and offer a unique perspective.

2. Learn to write fast.  Writers that depend on inspiration are not writers that can write for eight hours a day every day.  They have not taken control of the process and are helpless when their muse isn't feeding them sentences.  Dr. Mark Panik at UH Hilo taught me the best way to beat the muse: write your fast draft without stopping and without going back and editing, almost as though you were free writing stream of consciousness style.  Once you have your first draft, go back and revise.  It's much easier to improve an existing piece of writing than to pump out a flawless draft on your first attempt.

3. Plan ahead.  If you wait until a deadline to produce content, the stress of failing can make writing even more difficult.  Try to have a final draft completed at least a week before your deadline so that you have ample time to revise.  Granted, I know that this is not always practical, but do your best.  And having a backlog of evergreen stories doesn't hurt either.

4. Never give up. Writing is hard.  Force yourself to power through and to come up with a story.  Be creative.  Adapt.  You'd be surprised what you can come up with when you're faced with a challenge.

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