Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How to revive a habit? 7 blogs in 7 days

I decided to set myself a challenge: write 7 blog articles in 7 days. One per day.

The reason for this challenge was to get myself going with writing again. Writing is something I love doing, I have ideas for blog pieces running around in my head every day and yet, the last blog I wrote was two years ago… 2 years ago!

Its funny how quickly you can get out of a habit and stay out of it.

After publishing my book, Courage to Lead (Jacana 2014), I seem to have just stopped writing. As any author will know, writing a book is a gruelling exercise. The deadlines, revisions, rethinking what you want to say and going over every sentence at least ten times before its given the final okay takes time, energy and commitment. In the process you lose loads of sleep and somewhere down the line you can lose enthusiasm for writing and lose some of the passion for your message. In fact, I have a confession to make. I haven’t read my book in its entirety after the final go-ahead to print. It’s something I have really wanted to do but I’ve just lost the energy. With the birth of my book, the launch, the PR, the excitement and sense of achievement something got lost in that I just stopped writing. No blogs, no articles. Just silence…

I’ve been thinking about this over the last months and wondering how to get started again. What will give me that kickstart to launch back into the writing habit?

And two things happened.

Thing 1

I read an article about writing, by Martha Beck, who said that her first draft is always really, really bad. In fact, to get herself going on an article (usually with a deadline) she gives herself the challenge and permission to write the crappiest first draft ever, as long as she puts pen to paper. I decided to use this idea and give myself the challenge and permission to write really bad first drafts, as long as it gets me writing again.

With multiple revisions, you can always fix it, change it, reduce it – but just getting the first draft done is the most powerful step to getting going.

Thing 2

I started having ideas of what to write about rolling around in my head and I began writing down my blog titles, as these ideas came up. The excitement to write began to awaken within me as I realised that each article didn’t need to be very long. It could be a short comment about something that I had noticed in my day or an idea that I wanted to share. A blog piece found its way into my inbox and I decided to do a word count on it. 400 words – that’s how short it was. That’s pretty doable.

But I still wasn’t writing…

This is where the idea of 7 blogs in 7 days came to me. First, it reminded me of the Sting song ‘7 brides for 7 brothers’ and Sting’s music makes me happy. Second, to get a blog article written every day, you have to know that you will only manage really bad first drafts and nothing more. The aim was to spill the ideas on to the page and get my mind working in the direction of writing.

The 7-day challenge was not about posting the blogs. In fact, they would not be ready for posting after 7 days. And there are advantages to this approach besides unblocking my writer’s block. If I wrote 7 blogs and posted one per week, I would have 7 weeks of material taken care of and could continue to write at a much less frenetic pace with a buffer in place. It would get me out of the stuckness and back into the arena. The blogs don’t need to be perfect, just really bad first drafts. I could work on the revisions when I was ready to post them. And finally, a great advantage would be even more material since I’m already planning my 7th blog which will be what I learnt from the experience.

So here goes… This is Day 1 of 7 blogs in 7 days. Blog 1 is now written. In fact all 7 are written and are filed away as really bad first drafts so stay tuned as I unleash them one at a time.

Now, over to you…

What habit have you let go of that you would like to revive?
How can you create your own 7 xxx (fill in the blank) in 7 days to get you going?

Remember the principles:
1.     Give yourself permission to do a really bad job as a starting point
2.     Just get started – keep it short, keep it simple
3.     Do this really badly for 7 days
4.     See what happens… what needs revision, fixing, publishing, more commitment?
5.     Share your journey in the comments below – I’d love to hear