Writing is a wonderful creative outlet, but it can take a lot of time—especially if you don't have a clearly defined process for producing what you want to create.
It's taken me years to develop the process that allows me to write a blog post in just over an hour every week.
Two years ago, writing a blog post took me at least half a day.
As I committed to a writing habit, I've continued to improve my craft.
If you want to start writing (especially for a blog), you need a process of your own. Here's a look inside mine, so you have a solid footing when you start.
Stage 1: Mentally Prepare
This is probably the most overlooked aspect of writing, though I’d argue it’s the most important by far.
If you’re not in the right mindset, getting words out is painful—but with preparation, it can be a joy to write every week.
For me, this stage begins weeks before, but really settles on the night before I write.
I keep a running list in Wunderlist of blog post ideas and organize those in CoSchedule (which I review the night before I write).
On writing days, I make sure to exercise, eat well, and say morning prayers before I sit down to write.
I find I write best after I brush my teeth, stretch, and get a fresh glass of water to keep within reach at my desk.
Fun fact: I never write with socks on (when I've tried, it's harder for me to focus and write).
Stage 2: Draft Content
For this post: 24:27 minutes, 796 words.
Once I'm ready to write, I turn on [email protected] to create an atmosphere that stimulates my mind.
I use Toggl to track my time, which helps me stay motivated and keeps me on task.
Finally, I open Calmly Writer (in focus mode) and start typing steadily to let my thoughts pour onto the screen.
I usually start writing by listing potential titles, outlining key points, and then go straight into writing content—resisting the urge to go back and edit during this stage.
That's the key to effective draft-writing—you can't edit, if you want to be fast or get your ideas all out on the screen.
Editing and writing require different aspects of the brain, and switching back-and-forth makes it difficult for your mind to develop the rhythm you need to write quickly and well for an extended period of time..
In 20 minutes I usually knock out at least 500 words—for me, this is a solid first draft.
Stage 3: Finalize Title
For this post: 4:10 minutes, 6 title variations.
Before I go further, I need to know the title.
For this, I use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer and keep tweaking until I get a score of 70 or above.
For a typical post, I go through at least five different titles—sometimes as many as ten or twelve!
Stage 4: Research & Edit
For this post: 29:30 minutes, 10 unique links.
At this point, I’m writing directly in WordPress, and editing the content as I read it through.
This is the point where I'll add relevant links from my site or elsewhere on the web (depending on what seems to fit best).
I don’t make a ton of typos, but I'm definitely wordy—so I rewrite sentences using thesaurus.com to make my posts easier to understand.
After the first edit, I read the post out loud—stopping wherever a word or phrase seems unnatural (often I simply take it out).
This process usually takes 20-30 minutes before the body is solid, though I save the introduction and conclusion for very last.
Stage 5: Final Review
For this post: 9:50 minutes, lots of edits.
This is where it's helpful to preview a post, so you read your content the way a reader likely would.
Here, I pay attention to the look & feel just as much as I do the content itself.
This is where you need to pick out gaps or missing links, as well as, break up big paragraphs into smaller lines throughout the post.
Once I make the final edits, I write an introductory paragraph and concluding remarks—designed to draw people in and then bring closure to the piece.
Finally, I add a call-to-action for comments at the bottom of every post.
If stages 1-4 were done well, it takes less than ten minutes for the final review.
And that’s it! All five stages are done.
I’ll still need to select an image, schedule the post, and set up social media shares—but those tasks seem trivial once the blog post itself is ready to go.
If you're just getting started, have no fear! You'll develop your own writing process in time.
Just keep writing, hone your process, and you'll get better and faster as your experience grows.
Question: What does your writing process look like?