My blog Writing Fish came about after two years of procrastination oddly enough due to laziness. It was Thursday evening, it was about ten o’clock and I was tired. But I made a cup of coffee and was determined to type a blog. Postponing blogging was not an option this time.
That was quite a breakthrough. In the preceding weeks I had always postponed the “blogging project”. But something had changed. I no longer did it alone for myself.
Blogging Start with this exercise
At my coworking office I had already dropped a few times that I wanted to start a blog. But my procrastination had also noticed the people there. One colleague, science journalist Elleke Bal, said one day: “I may also want to start a blog myself, but I am also unable to take the first step. And that is not surprising. You don’t have an audience yet, and you don’t need to blog. That is why it is so easy to postpone it, and not to do it at all. ”
There the conversation (and my plan to start a blog) could have ended. But Elleke made a proposal: “Why don’t we first blog for each other? If we write a blog for each other every week, and arrange an hour to read each other’s articles, then we have a stick behind it. ”
Blogging: this is how you prevent procrastination
When I agreed with her proposal, I had no idea how effective the plan was. In the end, we kept blogging for about six weeks. Every Friday we met in a coffee shop, commented on each other’s blog articles, and encouraged each other to continue.
But those comments and encouragements were not the most important part of our agreement. Much more important was the weekly deadline, and the fact that I now really had to write down the stories I had in mind.
As a result, my plan for a blog ended up in a pressure cooker. By writing my first messages I was confronted with practical problems and insights. For example, it soon became clear that I had not thought so well about the subject of my blog. I had not stayed close enough to myself.
Blogging: stay close to yourself
At first I was about to start a blog about social interaction. In addition, I was blinded by a small success. I had just written a piece about the importance of chatting with strangers for de Volkskrant. That piece had produced an extraordinary number of responses. Many people emailed me that the article had inspired them. A blog with more articles like this would probably score well, I thought.
But one day before my appointment with Elleke (that Thursday night at ten o’clock in the evening) I could not find any inspiration for a new article about chatting or social interaction. I was tired and actually wanted to go to bed. Forced by the deadline, I asked myself: on what subject could I write a useful article within the hour?
I came across a topic that suits me much more: writing. As a freelance journalist I am busy all day with writing tips and writing techniques. It is my greatest passion. Within an hour I wrote an article with a simple writing tip: you can delete these 21 words from your texts more often. That same evening I registered the domain meldvis.nl (here I explain how to do that).
Blogging Challenge yourself
The post about 21 words that you can delete better, then went viral on Twitter. A year later I gave my first writing course in The Hague to followers of Writing Vis. And now this income forms a large part of my income.
Without the six-week blogging exercise with Elleke, Writing Fish might never have gotten off the ground.
In short: if you have a plan to blog, consider making a similar appointment with someone in your area. It does not even have to be someone who also wants to blog, if necessary arrange with your best friend or colleague that you unilaterally send him or her a blog every week.
Exercise: blogging for a one-man audience
Such a promise made your plan to blog more concrete. You will get the answer to questions such as: do you really want it so badly? Do you find the subject of your blog really interesting enough, and can you think of enough perspectives? Do you know enough about it? And perhaps most importantly: is blogging fun enough to last for six weeks (and ultimately of course much longer)?
How do you tackle this exercise effectively?
1 – Find a suitable fellow blogger
Try to find someone who also has plans to blog, then you can best motivate each other. Otherwise, choose someone with whom you have a good relationship, someone you don’t like to disappoint. That makes your deadlines more meaningful.
It also helps if your one-man audience is interested in the subject of your blogs. If you start a blog about dogs, do not send articles to that girlfriend who hates has everything that barks.
2 – Keep the appointment simple
For example: send each other a blog of at least 400 words each Friday in a Word file. Keep the threshold as low as possible. Do not put the blog articles online yet. You don’t want to have to worry about the layout and design of a blog. First see if you can turn the basics – writing articles – into a routine.
3 – Be honest to yourself
The intention is that weekly blogging makes you more enthusiastic about your goal: starting your own blog. Do you notice that the weekly appointment is going to disappoint you, do you suffer from procrastination, do you always think of apologies and do you miss three of the six deadlines? Then be honest with yourself: maybe blogging is not for you, or this is not the time to start a blog.
* The latter turned out to be the case with Elleke. She started a promising blog about the necessity of continuing to learn throughout your life. For this, she recorded the web address www.delerendemens.nl. In the end, she didn’t have enough time to blog regularly. But she still had a small reward from our experiment.