Writing Regularly

If there's any website I'm addicted to right now over any other, it's Lifehacker. I discovered the site a couple of years ago, but ever since it found a place on Flipboard on my iPad a few months ago, I've been checking out the site more and more.

If you haven't heard of Lifehacker before, Lifehacker is site dedicated to providing posts on productivity, tips, and tech, or as they describe it:

'Lifehacker curates tips, tricks, and technology for living better in the digital age'

I thoroughly suggest that you check the site out.

I read an article today by Joel Gascoigne, founder of Buffer. His article talks about his thoughts and realisations on writing regularly and turning it into a habit...

Looking at his points, I was able to relate with them straight away. His first points talk about not getting hung up on research or putting articles aside to continue and improve them later, and this is something I have done a number of times when I have been writing for The Astronaut. Off the top of my head I can think of a draft post I have that I put aside as it needed some research. In the post I spoke about my (now not-so) recent experience as a back stage cameraman, for a live stream of a play in York, and my thoughts about spending time as the cameraman, not the director/producer/engineer role I am used to on productions. I found that when I was writing, I wanted to go into detail about the play's history, as it is one of the oldest plays in England, with a rich and quite interesting history. The problem was I didn't know enough about it's history to really do it justice, so I left a gap in my writing, wrote a bit about what I actually did there and then stopped to do something else. Every time I went back to look at the draft, I saw the gap, was reminded of the research, and was reminded that still needed doing. If I wasn't in the mood, or was writing on the train and couldn't research, I would do something else, and the rest of the article never got written.

...there is no better time to write than when the thought first enters your mind.

Joel suggests that once an idea is your head for a post, you should get it down on paper straight away, so the idea is fresh in your head, only stopping if you have to. Ive taken this on straight away. I was inspired and opened up iA Writer (my writing app of choice) and got writing straight away. I only stopped for about 20 minutes to get off the train and eat the dinner that was waiting at home for me, then got straight back into writing. And its been great for keeping my flow. Its something I have tried to do in the past, letting distractions get in the way. Now that I've seen how well its helping me get words down, its something I'm going to continue with every post I write.

One thing I have noticed halts my flow and prevents me posting is worrying about the look of the post, particularly including photos and pictures. Whenever I was writing I would picture an image I wanted to use after a particular paragraph, but these could be images I didn't have with me at the time, or photos that needed taking. I had also made it a rule to only include pictures I had taken myself, so that I could build up my photograph collection parallel with writing my posts, my creative mind always thinking about aesthetics.

Having read Joel's article, and having lost my iPhone (the camera I always have on me) in Barcelona last week, has made me realise that getting the written content down is far more important than the post's appearance. It's something I've always known, and was always my attitude when writing essays at school, but I’ve never applied to my blogging.

Joel's last point talks about maintaining a routine of writing. This is something I still need to figure out. Finding a suitable time each week for me is a pretty difficult task, as my job means I could be travelling or working late at any time. Weekends make sense to be the ideal time, or maybe Monday evenings. It seems no one wants to cover live events on a Monday, so I am not normally working late, so that might work for me. Over the next few weeks I've tasked myself with taking a note of when I am free and when I make time for writing and make a natural decision from that.

For now am I really happy I've got two new posts written in an evening. Making a bit more time for myself without distractions, having great inspiration and not rushing have been key to my writing, and it's something I'm going to consider with future writing too.

Are you like me and are finding your feet and your voice with writing or blogging? What have you found helps you write and continue to write regularly? It would be great to hear your experiences.

Joel Gascoigne, the writer whose post inspired me to write this Tweets at @joelgascoigne, and writes regularly on his blog about startups, life, learning, and happiness.