I’m good at coming up with blog post ideas.
I’m also adept at catching thoughts as soon as they come to me. I have an entire area in Notion dedicated to blog post ideas, and right now there are precisely 51 article ideas ready to be written. That list is well organized by topic and where the piece of writing may eventually wind up being published; my blog, Medium, or a client’s website.
What I’m not particularly good at is really putting those ideas into action.
So I’ve chosen to take an entirely new strategy during the previous several weeks.
Instead of simply noting a title or an idea at the bottom of a list when an idea strikes me, I’ve begun working on it right away. I gave the concept a whole page in Notion and began writing right away.
It’s not always feasible to quit everything and devote an hour or more to every thought that comes to mind, but it is conceivable to open a page and jot down a few phrases. It just takes two or three minutes to transform that tiny item from an idea on a list into something you’re actually working on. While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, a couple of brief phrases. While you’re on your lunch break, write a paragraph. Any small piece of work you can do to make the idea into something practical.
We don’t value our ideas nearly as much as we do the actual things we’re working on, therefore the sooner you start working on your ideas, the more likely you are to finish that piece of work.
This has been a complete game changer for me over the last several weeks. I now receive two or three solid ideas every week and am eager to sit down and begin to work on them. I write quicker, think more clearly, and no longer sit looking at a flashing cursor on an empty page, trying to figure out what to write about. I put everything I have into that one concept and see it through to completion. I don’t have a slew of thoughts racing through my mind, diverting me to the point of procrastination. I just have one notion till it is completed. And then there’s another.
But the best part is that I’m finally getting back into writing.
That’s not to say I don’t have some awful ideas. I still have a couple of ideas that don’t pan out. If I’ve started a page, written a paragraph or two, and still can’t get into a rhythm, I realize that maybe it’s not meant to be. This isn’t what I’m supposed to be writing about this week. Continue your journey.
So here’s my advice. If you’re having trouble sitting down to write but are drowning with ideas, try this.
- Delete your list of ideas. If you haven’t done anything with them yet, you probably won’t.
- Whatever writing method you use, keep it with you at all times. This is Notion for me, but it might be a Moleskine notebook or a Google Doc for you. Whatever it is, it must be readily available.
- When you get an idea for a piece of writing that delights you, act on it right away. DO NOT INCLUDE IT IN ANY IDEAS OR TO-DO LISTS. Instead, start a new page in your notebook and put the working title across the top in large letters, or open a new Google Doc or Notion page and do the same.
- Speed Write your opening paragraph, a couple of phrases, the conclusion, and whatever more you can think of in the time you have. The more, the better, but if two sentences is all you have, you’re still two sentences better than a list of ideas.
- Think just about this one piece of work and don’t try to come up with any other ideas. Turn off the water and focus on the task at hand until it is finished.
- Take pleasure in the procedure.
- Take pleasure in the process. I’ve included it twice to ensure you’re paying attention. This is the most crucial part. The most essential thing you can do for your writing is to fall in love with the process. Concentrate only on that piece of work, blog post, chapter, or whatever it is. Make it the finest it can possibly be.
- Cross the finish line. Finish the task. Don’t leave it unfinished. Complete it.
- Relax. Allow yourself time to bask in the knowledge that you’ve completed your task.
- Begin thinking about the next thought, and when it arrives, return to step 1.
That’s the end of it. That’s all there is to it. This has worked quite well for me in recent weeks. Maybe this may work for you as well.