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Grammar Is Sexy

To Get Ahead on Writing, Avoid My Mistakes

Originally, this was supposed to be a post about how to get ahead on blog content, using my own process as an example. I had a detailed system outlined, breaking down the work I do each day.

But then I realized that publishing this post would make me a total hypocrite! For despite writing out this detailed system, I failed to apply it to my own work–I failed to apply it to this very post!

So instead, I’ve decided to document what I did wrong and what I’m doing differently in the future, in the hopes that you can learn from my mistakes.

The Dream

big-ridge-for-GIS-Getting-Ahead-Post

Recently, I read an article by freelance web designer and writer Paul Jarvis describing his 7-day cycle for generating content that gets read and shared by 30,000+ people/week.

It all seemed so obvious after reading this: I needed a system.

And so I set out to create one, and what I came up with is what I had originally planned to share with you:

Monday: Rough outline of post idea and a bit of initial writing/drafting.
Tuesday: Focused period of writing (1-2 hours)
Wednesday: Finish writing of previous post and draft idea for next one, same as Monday
Thursday: Copy edit and add media to post for following Monday. Schedule Monday’s post. Focused writing on following Monday’s post
Friday: Finish writing of following Monday’s post
Saturday: Off.
Sunday: Add media and edit following Monday’s post schedule.

Theoretically, this system would allow me to get a couple weeks ahead on blog content, providing some cushion for the inevitable week where there weren’t enough hours in the day to write a blog post (or if I decided to do something crazy such as take a vacation).

Theoretically.

The Reality

”The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gan aft agley…”

– Robert Burns, ”To a Mouse”

My grand plan quickly fell apart. I’d accounted for everything that went into a blog post, sure, and had provided fairly accurate time estimates for at least Tuesday’s writing. What I hadn’t accounted for, however, was everything else I had to do.

I had committed a classic error of goal-setting: failing to schedule tasks for specific times. This is (primarily) why things fell apart.

And I had no excuse. My schedule for the summer is fairly regular, and I’ve no shortage of hours in the day.

In addition, I had been much too optimistic about my ability to be productive on the weekends. I failed to plan for how much of my Saturday would be taken by going for a three-hour (not including driving time) bike ride and how much of my Sunday would concern pet-sitting for one of my professors.

And never mind that I prefer to relax on the weekends (which doesn’t seem that unreasonable).

I needed a better system, and I think I’ve found it.

The Revised Plan

irish-hands-revised-process-GIS-getting-ahead-blog-post

After consulting my calendar and honestly examining how long it takes to write a typical Grammar Is Sexy blog post (including editing, adding images, and sharing via social media), I’ve come up with this new system, which even allows for leisure time on the weekends:

Monday

  • 11-11:15 AM: Brainstorm blog post ideas
  •  12-12:30 PM: Share current week’s post via Buffer
  •  8:00-9:00 PM: Pick idea from brainstormed list and create bulleted outline of it

Tuesday

  • 5-7 PM: Focused writing of blog post to create rough draft

Wednesday

  •  12-12:30 PM: Share current week’s post via Buffer
  • 8-9 PM: Edit and add media to next Monday’s post
  • 9-10 PM: Create bulleted outline of following Monday’s post

Thursday

  • 5-5:30 PM: Final read through of next Monday’s post. Then schedule it.
  • 5:30-7:00 PM: Focused writing of following Monday’s post to create rough draft

Friday

  • 12-12:30 PM: Share current week’s post via Buffer
  • 8-9 PM: Edit and add media to following Monday’s post
  • 9:30-10PM: Final read through of following Monday’s post. Then schedule it.

Saturday

  • Off

Sunday

  • Off

The items in blue only apply to weeks (such as the coming one) when I need to get ahead on blog posts. On a normal week, my process will only include the non-highlighted tasks, leaving Wednesday-Friday available for client work or writing for other blogs.

In addition to keeping a more specific schedule, I’m also going to use a time tracking app called Toggl to keep track of how much time I actually spend creating each blog post. I’ll primarily measure the amount of time I spend in the Grammar Is Sexy WordPress editor, but I’ll also manually account for any time in other programs such as Evernote, Photoshop, and any stock photo sites.

Going Forward

winding-road-for-GIS-getting-ahead-post

I’m not certain how this process will turn out. I’m open to changing it as I test it, but at least it gives me something more usable than my original plan.

Most of all, I hope you now understand some of the common pitfalls of planning and how to avoid them as you schedule your own writing. If you have any personal stories of how you’ve scheduled your own writing, I’d love to hear them–please share in the comments.

And if you want to receive more advice like this, read sneak previews of my posts before they go public, and get a copy of my free e-book Blogging Is Sexy: Ten Steps to Exceptional Online Writing, enter your email address below.


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