The Internet is getting full. That’s not to say that data centers are filling up or available URLs are running out, only that the available attention that can be given to content on the Internet is wearing thin. Yet the arms race continues, translating into busier writing schedules and heavier competition for attention.
Fortunately, there’s an answer to this conundrum that will clear your schedule and convey information more effectively to the addled minds we all hope to leverage. Attaining a 20-minute writing time may seem like snake oil, but the basic rules of productivity and the optimal format of the Internet allow this dream to become a reality, starting sooner than you think.
Find Your Productive Center
The foundation of efficient work is productivity, and productivity does not occur without good practice. The tricky thing about finding your optimal routine, method, and workflow, however, is that these conditions differ from person to person; no one-size-fits-all approach will bring success to everyone. For that reason, it’s important to know your personal capabilities and limitations, and build habits around them.
Begin by finding your optimal environment. Do you work better with some background noise or in total silence? Do you need a break every 15 minutes or can you work all day without pause? When finding the right conditions for your work, it’s essential to be honest with yourself. You may think you write better with episodes of Breaking Bad in the background, but comparing your output with the TV blaring to your output in silence will likely reveal some painful truths about your productivity level. Make the sacrifice and determine what works best, not what satisfies your need to procrastinate.
Once your optimal circumstances are understood, find a rhythm by keeping a schedule. The human body is both mentally and physically programmed to work in cycles, carry-over from the days when running from a leopard at noon meant the chance to sleep at midnight. Your body and your brain will benefit keeping a regular schedule, and eventually your creative and willpower highs and lows will accompany the natural cycles of your day.
Refine Your Creative Workflow
With your personal productivity understood, the next area of refinement that will help you reach your quick-writing goal is creative workflow. Unlike physical work, which often requires only healthy limbs, a decent night’s rest, and the proper nutrition to finish a task, the mind can refuse to function even when the proper circumstances are supplied, leading to writer’s block and burnout.
In order to write quick, quality blog posts, you’ll need to start planning well ahead of time. When an idea comes to you, have either a notebook or plain-text capture app on your phone in order to jot it down. Inspiration strikes when you least expect it, and never when you want to, so capturing these moments is essential to producing quality content later on.
Once the idea is in your head, let it stew. As counterintuitive as this may sound, doing so gives your brain the breathing room needed to collect supporting material and craft a quality idea. The aim of a 20-minute blog post is not to generate petty content for the sake of content, but to take distilled, refined concepts and deliver them efficiently.
Use The Right Format
Multiple formats can fit this prescribed aim, but utilizing the most efficient, web-optimized format will help your writing speed and effectiveness a great deal. The Internet has become the home of scanners, readers looking for bullet points and quick, digestible pieces of information. More sophisticated writers may scoff at this concept, but the idea in no way suggest that one should compromise the integrity and quality of writing, simply that its presentation should be adjusted for the audience.
Writing posts that contain numbered lists and bullet points is the first way to maximize writing and communicative efficiency. Doing so breaks the information into understandable chunks for fatigued readers and eliminates the need for challenging, subtle transitions between content. “A Beginner’s Guide to Baking” requires more intellectual presence of mind than “10 Tips For Beginning Bakers”, but the information presented, and net value for the reader, are of very little difference.
This scanner-friendly format means that your posts will be shorter, and this is good news for your writing time. In particular, shooting for roughly 500 words will provide sufficient length for the information presented in the format utilized, and will hit your 20-minute goal, all in one fell swoop. To those concerned with this limited length: 500 words does not mean chopping ideas down to 500 words at all costs, it simply means generating 500 words of intensely focused content that conveys valuable information without the fluff that taxes patience, minds, and time.
While we all hope to write the next great novel at some point in our lives, blogs are neither the venue nor the gig in which to do so. Focusing on lowering your writing time will help your busy schedule and focus your efforts, improving your content and presentation in the process. Find the environment and routine that works for you, and stimulate the creative process by catching ideas as they appear and letting them incubate. Put these thoughts into action by limiting your length and using the right format and both your readers and your calendar will thank you.