How to increase your writing frequency

Around this time last year, I gave myself a challenge: Write at least 52 blog entries throughout 2010. I signed up for Project 52:

a personal challenge geared toward getting fresh content on your website.

I haven’t completely risen to the challenge, but I am still hanging in there and it has massively improved my blogging efforts and how I deal with them.

It’s all the mind

The mere act of signing up for and publicly committing to Project52 changed how I think about blogging.

I used to have a perpetual task in my todo-list simply saying “Blog!”. Whenever it appeared in my list of tasks, I’d happily ignore it for weeks until I got annoyed by it and sent the task into the future. A week later the story would repeat and I still wouldn’t have the divine touch of inspiration for something to write.

Writing became a chore. I felt I was always behind.

Now, I am thinking ahead. I am continuously thinking of things to write because I know I have to publish something next week – and the week after. And I am actually writing (almost) every day.

Allocate time for it

Inspired by Noded I set aside 15 minutes per day for writing, immediately after checking feeds and news every morning. This way I don’t have to miraculously find the time to write, which in freelancer-speak means “never”; there is always something more urgent, and profitable, to do.

Certainly, this is an investment, but by spending only a quarter of an hour per day it doesn’t feel like a huge burden – neither on my time or energy.

Unfortunately, this fixed planning doesn’t always pan out. If I am terribly busy, I’ll skip my allotted time-slot. You can almost tell when I have been busy by going back over the entries and find the weeks where nothing got posted.

But on the up-side, if I am on a roll and the words just flow I’ll keep writing after the 15 minute timer-bell rings.

Dump your brain in the right place

Even though only 11 posts made it to in 2009, don’t think I didn’t have things on my mind, thoughts that wanted to get out. Some of those ended in my Twitter stream and some ended in my notebook. Where they died.

An unintended side-effect of putting words in my notebook was that it gave me a feeling of being “done”. The thoughts had been formulated and written down, my mind had been dumped. Done.

Unfortunately the task of bringing the post from notebook-draft to published blog post was too tedious with too little gain, so most posts never made it out of there.

Now, I write all my drafts directly in the blog interface. This way, only a single click of a button is keeping me from publishing and if I am only a few minutes away from having something publishable, I’ll just do it.

Bring it on

While I won’t quite reach the full 52 entries in 2010 – this is post #44 and we’re in week 50, the mere choice of committing to the project has made me write more.

Considering the fact that I only wrote 11 blog posts in 2009 and have written 4 times that in 2010, I’d say Project 52 has been a success for me this year and I’ve already committed to the 2011 season.