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January 14, 2015

The Practice of Daily Writing

January 14, 2015

At SmallBox we talk with a lot of clients and prospects who want to establish thought leadership, but have trouble making it happen when the rubber meets the road. They have all of the expertise right there, within the minds and experience of their team, and simply want to have better process and practice of sharing that knowledge with the outside world. That typically means a fair amount of writing. There are all sorts of reasons we see people struggle with the writing part – finding the time, making it a priority amongst all other commitments, or simply being intimidated by putting thoughts out into the wild.

This is the fourth year for SmallBox's annual Think Kit daily blogging challenge, and it was my most prolific and least painful thus far. All told, I wrote 31 posts on my personal blog, 5 posts for SmallBox, and 1 for my tumblr. 37 posts in one month's time marks the most prolific I've ever been in my blogging career.

These are the methods I used to survive, and even enjoy, 31 straight days of writing:

Make Writing a habit

The more rare of an occasion it is to write, the greater weight I placed on the words. I noticed it's a lot easier to stress out about it, or to excessively mull over a specific word if I haven't written in weeks. Your frequency might be different than mine. I need to write daily or at least weekly. For you, it might be once per month. Once you understand your own rhythm, keep on beating that drum.

The daily frequency of Think Kit helped me get in the groove of just enough wordsmithing. No one wants to be sloppy, but if you're writing often, you don't have time to belabor every single sentence for thirty minutes.

That's what good editors are for!

A great editor is not the same as a good proof-reader. A great proof reader will never miss a typo or grammar mistake. A great editor often catches those too, but is a master of flow, is bold enough to tell you if something isn't clear, or worse, if it's dull. If you do find an editor you trust, befriend them for life. Seriously.

Hold things in mind

I noticed if I gave a small amount of thought to the writing prompt in the morning, I could let my subconscious go to work throughout the day. I'd find I would randomly get an idea for a line, or a point I hadn't yet considered. By the time I sat down to write, I already had a good mental (or in some cases written out) outline.

Make lists

When I wasn't sure how to respond to a prompt, I'd sprint through a list of ideas, writing down every single potential story or response that came to mind. I'd use my subconscious in the same way as above. Which of those ideas spoke to me throughout the day? Did one become a richer, more interesting story than the others? Often, the ideas I'd discarded would come back into play for another prompt.

Prompts really do help

Knowing what to write about can be half the battle. Think Kit prompts remain online – feel free to use them, reword them and make them your own. While Think Kit is intended as a personal blogging challenge, I've found I could find a business-related post in there. Simply add "....at work" to the end of the prompt. There are plenty of other prompt lists out there to be uncovered with a brief Internet search. One recent series of note: the promising publishing platform Medium has launched their own writing prompts.

Be flexible

For a long time, I really only wrote in the mornings. But I did 90% of my Think Kit writing in the evening. Knowing I needed to do it every day, I was much more flexible about fitting it in where I could. One day I wrote my post in the car ride to and from a holiday party on the Wordpress app on my phone.

As impossible as it may seem, I learned I can always make time for writing if I set a goal and make it a priority. These are the things that worked for me, but I love to hear about your writing rituals. What helps you stay committed to the page?

Related links:

SmallBox's 31 Think Kit posts
Sign up for Think Kit (We send one monthly prompt throughout the year!)
Think Kit on Twitter


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