You've got half an hour before your next meeting. Why not write a blog?
After all, Graham Nash, the singer-songwriter who was part of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash, wrote "Just A Song Before I Go" in about 20 minutes. Nash was in Hawaii at a friend's house, waiting for the rain to stop so he could depart. His friend bet him $500 that he couldn't write a song before he left. So Nash took the bet, sat down at the piano and wrote the song, which turned out to be Crosby, Stills & Nash's biggest hit.
I know you're not Graham Nash, but you are someone with interesting ideas and a unique point of view. So I'll help you by sharing how I write a lot of blogs--in fact, at least 10 a month--in a short amount of time.
While it's true that most of my blogs take more than half an hour, I've developed a process that pushes my writing forward at a brisk pace. So climb in and ride along:
Step 1: Grab an idea as it drifts by
A key part of my process is that I constantly collect ideas. I clip articles from magazines and newspapers. I collect links to online content. And I create physical and virtual files of ideas like these:
- How Millennials shop for groceries
- What employees hate about their managers: "I'm afraid to speak up."
- Elon Musk tweets that Tesla might go private
- Study: Open offices actually reduce communication
- A client conversation: "Our approval process really, really sucks"
Pretty random, right? But any of these concepts could turn into a blog. That's where the next step comes in:
Step 2: Choose the idea that makes the most noise
To become a blog, the idea has to speak to me--in fact, it has to yell at me. Unless the concept really resonates, I can't get the momentum needed to make progress.
For example, I carried around this idea--What employees hate about their managers: "I'm afraid to speak up."--for a week or two and it kept bubbling up to the top. That meant it was almost time to start writing. But first I needed to follow the next step:
Step 3: Conduct enough research to feel knowledgeable
Thanks to the evil geniuses at Google, I can gather a large amount of information in a short amount of time. For instance, I did a Google search on "employees afraid to speak up" and was able to copy and paste a lot of background material. And that led to my next step:
Step 4: Create a big fat messy document
At this point, I've got a five- to seven-page Word document which consists of a chaotic collection of loosely relevant material. Someone conducted a study. Someone else wrote a passionate opinion piece. Another person has advice. It's all there, in a sloppy, disorganized pile. So I print it out and read it through. And that's when I do something that may surprise you:
Step 5: Write it out
I step away from the keyboard, find a piece of paper and a pen and write the old-fashioned way. There are studies that show that writing by hand activates the brain and helps you think faster; for me, it's about the freedom of writing without worrying if the writing is right. I try a headline, then another, then another. I write the first sentence, then move on to sketch out some tips.
When my piece starts to take shape and my writing picks up speed, I return to the keyboard, open a new document and start typing. And that leads me to the pivotal moment:
Step 6: Figure out your advice
I don't write blogs to express my opinion; I'm all about helping readers solve problems and make improvements. But often I'm well into the blog before I figure out what my advice should be. That's where the messy background document comes in. I go back to the research and see what other people are saying about my topic. If their guidance is really good, I quote them. If not, I decide what I recommend.
And after 30 minutes (or so), I reach the last step:
Step 7: Put it all together
After all these years of writing blogs and many other things, I'm pretty polished, so I don't do a lot of editing. But I do read the piece through and fix any glitches (like using the word "advice" 14 times in the first draft of Step 6).
Then I move over to the Inc. publishing platform, input my draft, add a photo and presto! A blog like this one--How to Encourage Every Employee to Speak Up, Share Ideas--and Set Your Organization Up for Success--is ready for readers.
While you may need a bit more time than 30 minutes, hope this helps you quickly write your next awesome blog.