Let's say this year you want to start a blog or write articles to post on LinkedIn. Good for you. Now that we're a few weeks into January, it's possible you've learned this secret to writing about your business: The hardest part is just getting started.
This is true even if you know that writing about what you do or your subject matter expertise is smart business. It's true even if you know your audience and what you hope readers gain from your blog posts or LinkedIn articles.
You might know what you want to say. But you're stuck. Here are six things to keep in mind from someone who has been a professional writer her entire career. For years, I wrote on deadline in newsrooms. Now I spend my days writing for my clients and carving out time to write this column. I hope this list helps get you unstuck, because you deserve this creative outlet, and your business and your readers can benefit from it.
1. Write for you.
To start, try not to put a bunch of pressure on your writing. Try not to imagine who will read your words. I find that people are worried that either everyone will read their stuff or nobody will. If nothing else, writing can be a needed outlet, diversion or change of pace for you. Writing might just be a discipline or muscle that you are looking to build -- for you.
2. You have to make time for writing.
Writing requires focus. You can't multi-task when writing. You have to make time for it. Lately, I have had luck writing this column during my daughter's 90-minute Saturday dance class. I like to challenge myself on how much I can get done in that window.
You have to protect the time you set aside for it. You might need to block an hour a day on your calendar and turn off email and text notifications during that time.
3. Momentum is important.
Writing is like exercise. If you do it once in a while but not regularly, then each time feels like the first time. The term 'writing muscle' is a real thing. If you stick with it, the words and ideas will come more quickly and easily.
Back in late 2017, when I was asked to write four to six columns a month, I didn't know how I'd pull it off. After all, I also run a public relations and communications business and have a family. But I found it could be done, and the discipline of this column has improved all of the other writing I do each and every day.
4. An editorial calendar might help.
Having a list of article topics you plan to write about might also ease some of the anxiety around writing. This is called an editorial calendar. Basically, you map out what you will write about each week or each month, taking inspiration from what is happening in the news, in your industry, in your particular business or in the world at that time.
For example, you might think of seasons -- back-to-school, holidays, taxes, summer vacation. Small business owners might also want to take note of the first week of May, which is National Small Business Week.
I have editorial calendars in place for my clients. We might change a topic based on an emerging news story or trend, but at least we have a place to start.
5. Know that some of your past writing will make you cringe.
And that's okay. It's normal. I recently complimented a friend on a story that she wrote a few years ago and that a local news outlet published again. She said she appreciated it, but admitted it actually makes her cringe now. She used that exact word. Cringe. I didn't ask her why, because I didn't have to. I get it.
When you look back on past articles, you might cringe at the topic you chose, a sentence you wrote or the tone of the whole darn piece. This is normal, because when you make writing a regular habit you are bound to always be improving. It's also normal, because...
6. You will be your own worst critic.
And that's okay, too. Don't let it stop you from getting started. It's actually what will ensure that you keep getting better at it. It's what makes you a writer. Now, go get started.