SpeedBlogging:
How To Write Better Posts In Less Time

Go!

“SpeedBlogging” is a term I use for a four-step system I work with to write better posts or articles in less time.

And no, I don’t mean just for articles under 300 words, I mean this system works for much longer articles or posts too. Articles that engage, inform, and entertain your blog community.

So here are the four steps each guided by a traffic sign:

Step 1 – UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Under Construction

Yes, your article is now “Under Construction.”

Most people dramatically reduce their productivity and efficiency because they are busy trying to chase down their muse. So the goal is to always have inspiration at your fingertips. I recommend starting an “Idea Bank.”

An “Idea Bank” is a paper file folder where you keep your ideas and photos or images that come to your mind. Also have a second “Idea Bank” in your computer—”Idea Bank 2.”

What I mean by this is that you write all ideas down ‘as they come to you’ when your muse whispers in your ear. Because ideas are fleeting they must be recorded.

So, carry around a small notepad and pen, keep it in your pocket, backpack, purse or briefcase. For some people, they get ideas in the middle of the night—if that applies to you, then put the pad and pen nightstand next to your bed.

Then, simply tear off the notepad pages and put them into your “Idea Bank” folder. This is also a perfect place for newspaper or magazine clippings that inspire you—whether for an idea to write about, or research for an article, or an image idea that would be a good accompaniment for an article.

Your “Idea Bank 2″ is when you type down ideas into a computer file folder when you are already at the computer. Or, if while you are working at the computer you get inspired by a particular graphic or photo—then record where it was, and later you can see if you can purchase the use of that graphic or photo and check out all copyright laws pertaining to it.

You will be very surprised as to how many ideas you quickly amass with this step. Then later, your Blog Editorial Calendar will be jam-packed with articles that you gleaned from your two “Idea Banks.”

Step 2 – ONE WAY

One Way

For blogging, “list articles” are currently the most popular article format, and they happen to be the fastest to write. It’s only one of many ways to do it, but it’s quick and easy.

Just write out 5 to 10 key points related to your topic. Then write a paragraph of explanation for each point.

You can begin the topic for the article in numerous ways; here are a few:

  • Pose a question
  • Begin with a quotation
  • Offer a review
  • A “Top 10 List”
  • A synopsis of a breaking-news item
  • Discuss pros and cons to an issue
  • Say what problem you will solve for the reader and tell them how to do it

Step 3 – YIELD

One Way

Forget that old-school linear-thinking outline for your next article. Here’s the secret: Instead use a more fun, efficient, and hip way to do your outline that enhances your mental performance—a mind-map

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.(Source: Wikepedia.)

Mind-mapping is a fast, easy, fluid, organic process that promotes creativity. Mind-maps show the shape of the topic in a two-dimensional structure that illustrates the way in which facts relate to one another while prioritizing individual points. A mind-map presents information in a visual format that shows the overall structure—a “map” if you will—of your article subject.

Mind-mapping brings freedom to bloggers because with this tool, they don’t worry about where to begin, they just begin! Mind-mapping is an especially freeing tool for bloggers who tend to be perfectionists and procrastinators who have a hard time beginning a project. Mind-mapping works well for them because it doesn’t feel intimidating like a traditional outline often does.

By using the mind-mapping technique, these bloggers know they don’t have to worry about a particular order, and that worry (fear) no longer blocks them from beginning nor slows down their progress, since they feel confident in that they can always add more branches to their map!

To learn more about how to mind-map you can easily find websites, books and even new software that explains the mind-mapping technique in depth.

Step 4 – NO PARKING!

No Parking

That’s right, no parking—you heard it—move on. That is, write and finish! There is NO SUCH THING AS WRITERS BLOCK.

Writer’s block feels real, but it is just the mask hiding the fear of the person ‘experiencing’ it—they’re scared that if they write something down and show it to the world then that means they are vulnerable to others people’s opinions—and that what they wrote down is now “committed” to paper or blog and now they are open to possible ‘failure.’

Forget people-pleasing—that is a no-win trap. Just write and commit. Click on “Publish.” And then start writing your next post.

There are no stop signs or red lights on your road now; it’s a “green light” all the way.

About The Author: Mara Rogers writes Secrets For Money, a personal finance blog that gives you tips to make more money, save more money, and manage your money.

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  1. I have a plugin – WP Dash Note – that I use to jot down all my ideas. The best part about it is that it’s right there on my dashboard so I’m reminded every time I log in.

    There are some mind-mapping softwares available; a quick Google search will bring up a bunch. Could be helpful.

  2. These are some really great tips. I’ve been looking forward to (yet seem to be putting off) a stronger return to blogging on my personal site. Now, I have no excuse! Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the great post. Lots of good and practical ideas there for anyone who writes blog posts on a regular basis.

  4. Great ideas, especially the Idea Bank. I keep finding myself stuck on one thing, then forgetting the other great ideas I had in the meantime. Using these suggestions should help me update my blog on a more regular schedule. Green light all the way!

  5. Thanks for the great pointers! I’ve experimented with mind-mapping and, for me, I find it works best for complex projects, but not for blog posts. I work much faster with a traditional outline format.

    What I’ll do is write out my main points and try to make paragraphs form them. Then, I’ll re-read and if any points relate to eachother or overlap, I move the paragraphs around.

    I guess the point here is there are many ways to skin the blogging cat, and mind maps just didn’t work for me. I think all your other points are spot on for me though! I love me some lists!

  6. These were HUGE!! Great ideas! LOVE the road signs. Your view of writers block makes perfect sense – that’s the thing with truth sometimes huh, just makes perfect sense – LOL!

    Really, thanks for this post it was immensely helpful!

  7. Yet another good post to digest later…

  8. What a fantastic post!

    I love your Ideas Bank (1 & 2) and will definitely put that into practice straight away. I frequently read inspiring articles in magazines or newspapers and inspiring Tweets on Twitter, and then I forget all about them later when I am sitting at my computer trying to write.

    Your “Parking” section also struck a chord with me, as I often hold back on posting an article, as I can be over-anylitical about it.

    You have been a great source of inspiration to me today.

    Thank you!

    Annette

    I am an avid mindmap user. I use mindmaps all the time, including, of course, for blogging purposes

  9. I use a little different approach to develop my posts. I jot post ideas in a small Moleskine notebook that I carry with me quite often, or use Jott, the phone-to-email service, to “send” ideas from my cell phone to my inbox. I then transfer all ideas into a blog posts mind map, where I may use the notes area to rough out some key points. I then use DragonNaturally Speaking with my laptop to do a “brain dump” of the best post ideas into a Word document. This gives me a group of “under construction” articles that I can then develop quickly into finished posts. This has turned out to be a very productive way for me to work.

  10. Thank you for a very informative post!

    I suppose most people allow the fear of failure to get in the way of writing. But without failure, how is one to learn how to be better?

    I especially like the mind-mapping technique.

    As a new blogger (28 Days old), I have a lot to learn and fear is not one of them!

    Best Always,
    Henie Reisinger
    HennArtOnline.com

  11. If you walk away with only one idea from this post, walk away with the idea bank. As a blogger, nothing compares to having a pile of rough articles, ideas and notes. Like Maria said, you’ll have no problem filling out your editorial calendar.

  12. Thanks, copyblogger, you caught me. I have a couple of unpublished blogs and I confess, I have that fear thing going on. Okay… I will publish…….um, soon.

  13. I agree that having a pad of paper wherever you go is essential for bloggers.

    As far as list articles go – I really get tired of them. I have written them before, but do so very sparingly. Generally, I find they do not impact me the way an article does that is focused on one or maybe two points. That is for sure.

  14. Another load of great, workable ideas for me to digest. But when? I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who is overwhelmed with information, ideas, great “stuff,” but how to read it all and find time to work and publish is beyond me. Help!
    I so appreciate your powerful ideas…now to get to it…

  15. These are great ideas. I too have found that there are days when I can come up with ideas for ten different blog posts and others when I do not feel like blogging. I am going to start using the two idea banks to help me with this. Thank you.

  16. Having ideas ahead of time always make the process quicker. My problem is if additional research needs to be done, it can really add to the time. Otherwise, ideas and rants can take very little amount of time.

  17. Bamboo, this very post is a so-called “list” article. I thought it was pretty substantive, but I agree with you that most are not.

  18. Excellent take on a topic that affects us all.

    The whole “no writer’s block” is inspiring to say the least.

    George

  19. Thanks Mara,

    Death to writer’s blo

  20. If you need something for “Idea Bank 2″ on your computer, consider Evernote.com, I use it for collecting text, images, docs in one place (and also for GTD lists)

  21. I love the idea bank. I use one myself. Usually 3 banks. One for article ideas. One for articles I find interesting that sparked ideas. One for images that sparked ideas.

    I am a very visual person so images work best for me or articles that produce a stong visual image for me. I like to keep them around and link my ideas in my idea list to the source of the idea in my article and image list. Just in case I need that original spark again and because more often than not I get a multitude of ideas that stream off of the source and the ideas I get.

  22. There’s a lot of truth in your post ! Though it sounds intuitive once you’ve read it, this is a four step process that is a) long term b) sustainable c) oriented towards discipline than strategy.

    I like it!

  23. can’t say enough good things about pen paper and mind-mapping. try it.

  24. Thanks for the mind map reminder…this can be a very effective way to get out of a writing rut.

  25. Great post. Lot’s of golden nuggets to take away. Thanks.

  26. I like to use a voice recorder app on my iPhone to ‘jot’ down ideas. Ideas usually come to me when I can’t write them down, ie in the car.

  27. Just finished my first post in over a month. The “No Parking” point is what I think most bloggers get hung up on, including me. Fear not, share your opinion often! You’ll be surprised at how many respect your opinion, whether they agree with it or not.

  28. You forgot to mention : Have a Twitter account :-P ( yes yes, it’s a good source of ideas for blog posts ) .
    Anyway, great tips !

  29. This is a clear and enjoyable description of the process of getting valuable material out to the public. While this article does consist of a list, it is more much thorough than the stereotypical list that we might think of, in that it provides examples and processes for each item. I think that many of us think of a top 10 list, consisting of 10 lines, as the standard list post. The point about quickly mind-mapping your next article is a positive reminder of a modern way to outline thoughts that are worth presenting. With mind-mapping soon to become more mainstream on even iPhones, use of them for multiple purposes appears to be becoming more applicable. On a related note, I recently wrote an article on my site about mind-mapping a day or week of your time.

  30. Wow! Awesome post!

    Thank you for all your great ideas and suggestions. This will definitely help me with my writing ideas.

    Thanks again! :)

  31. Thank you for the great post. You filled my head with great ideas and inspiration to move on and make a more blog posts! Stumbled!

  32. I must say that this is one of the best blogging post I’ve ever read. Thank You Mara!

  33. I use ScribeFire (FireFox Addon) to create my “Ideas Bank 2″
    and it is really good :) I really recommand it

  34. Hi there,

    I disagree with your advice on “NO PARKING!” I do think there is such thing as writers’ block. It can come from lack of inspiration, being confused, or being in a bad workplace.

    Also, as a blogger, I think you need to have consideration in your posts. Just having a “green light” all the way could lead to people hating/angry at you. But, then again, that’s exactly what you argue: Writers’ block is a fear issue.

    Thanks,
    Spencer

  35. These are awesome tips! My idea bank is overflowing with ideas, because my husband gets involved. Ask family and friends to let you know if they ever have ideas and what topics you write about!

  36. Great post–good advice across genres, not just for bloggers.

  37. This is great stuff. The “Ideas Bank” and the mind-mapping are both great tools, and ones that Often, I find the hardest part of getting started is simply writing the first sentence, so I try and keep a repository of beginnings to pieces available. I’m going to start using the street signs when I write, too. Thanks!

  38. Cool info here for a newbie blogger… Your article is bookmarked and Tweeted(Retweeted)..

    Cheers..

  39. Great idea and great stuff…Thanks

  40. Great! Excellent! Brilliant! Wonderful! Thank you Mara!

  41. I really agree with the fourth point “No Parking”. It is the primary way i try to focus on writing my posts, is get in start writing and just keep going until i finish the post. It does help a lot more if i have made my notes first i know where i am going, and don’t need to stop and think.

  42. Great tips, I definitely need to take up some of these.

  43. Thanks for a great post.After owning a PDA for a couple of years I think I am finally wearing it out with writing down ideas.I’ll have to look at some of the firefox add ons mentioned.

  44. I actually prefer the uncool, non-hip outline method. If you “mash up a mind-map” (is that what the kids say?), you still need to translate it into something resembling a narrative, in order to publish it.

  45. I was excited to read about your suggestion on the Idea Banks. I have a similar system of my own.

    I also found your discussion on mind-mapping interesting. I am going to look into to it as a new way to help me write posts.

    Something that I also find helpful when writing a post is to think about a central theme, and write my post around that theme.

    I enjoyed your post.

  46. Thanks for that article! I’ve recently started keeping a small spiral notebook on hand and it really helps for ideas.

  47. I’ve been blogging for eight years now. I have hundreds of pages in my clip file. I have dozens of unfinished posts. My desk is a mess of notes and magazine pages. My readers constantly bombard me with new ideas.

    Despite all of this, I get writers block. To claim it doesn’t exist is, well, a tad bit silly.

    And the best way I’ve found to beat writers block? Some sort of physical activity, like mowing the lawn. If I get my mind off the problem at hand, the words just flow…

  48. The “Idea Bank” is one of my favorites to have. I have a lot of drafts saved up so anytime I need a post and short on time it doesn’t take much effort at all to get a good post out.

  49. Fantastic post. I think the reason people aren’t able to get really good at writing is they aren’t willing to fail at first. I was just looking back at my first few posts and they really are terrible! You have to fall on your face at first and build on your failure. The foundation of every house is built on dirt isn’t it? In the end the juice is worth the squeeze.

  50. thanks for the great post. I just started an ‘idea bank’ the other day. I find it can also be handy to mind map my ‘idea bank’ to see how they relate and if it spurs new ideas.

  51. I have just hit the 3 blog mark, and all of the sudden I can’t keep them up with my current non-system. I used to write whatever – whenever. Waiting for my muse! I’m so glad I found this article. It was very helpful, and practical! Thank you!

  52. I like the tips. It made me stop, look and listen. It really made sense. Now I’m going full throttle. Thanks!

  53. Great article… about the “Idea Bank” I just wrote a post about using Drop.io as a multi-channel input method for keeping track of your ideas securly and digitally… it’s been a lifesaver for turning out posts quicker.

  54. Glad to see there are people who do this. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks and it’s allowed me to write all my articles on Tues/Thurs (with some exceptions).

  55. Super post! I LOVE mindmapping, too.

  56. I’m giving this to my highschooler … and maybe the teacher too. He will certainly benefit from idea mapping.

    I think from scanning the comments you have a list article in the making (or someone does). I counted five ways to build an idea bank (ScribeFire, Jott, DragonNationally Speaking, Evernote.com and Drop.io) – just need 5 more :0

  57. Cool tips.

    Especially the mind map.

    I actually use mind mapping software for my pc and on my iphone. The iphone app lets me jot down ideas for articles when I’m out around town.

    Although, I must admit…I didn’t even know what a mind map was until a few years ago when an online copywriter continued to send me notes from live events in the form of a mind map.

  58. Have to overwhelmingly agree with mind-mapping… this is a very useful exercise. When it comes down to production — Nike summed it up best — just do it.

  59. Excellent advice. I use Todoist.com to add quick reminders in a checklist and journaling software for more detailed development when I’m on the run with my laptop.

  60. Great post! and very useful for people like me developing our own corporate blog!

    Thanks from Spain

  61. http://bubbl.us is also an excellent online mindmapping site.

  62. Agree it is always a good idea to keep a notebook and pen handy. Ideas can come rushing anytime during the day.

    Unfortunately if not recorded at that moment, ideas are often forgotten and lost. Don’t waste, jot them down.

  63. Very interesting and helpful information. I have been working with mind mapping for awhile and have to say it is great. I have a couple idea banks and am always adding to them.

  64. Alexander Dombroff :

    I love the idea of an idea bank. I’ve never done that before and I end up sitting at my computer waiting for an idea to come to me!
    -Alexander Dombroff

  65. “No Parking” is the absolute truth. Just hit publish. Take a stand and live with it. We’ve all be conditioned to over-think everything. Stop thinking and start acting.
    - Jason (www.givingexperiment.wordpress.com)

  66. Thank you for that awesome post. I love the idea of keeping a drawer with notes of ideas! Excellent advice – thanks again.

  67. Aravindan Umashankar :

    Today is my first day at copyblogger !!! :-) WoW Yipeeeee !
    India isnt a online community yet though Indians are ! Surprising ! Yes it is a fact as millions of Indians world over are commited addicts online. I am one such person from India.

    When i took up blogging , to me it was as the tag says a medium of push button publishing or freedom of expression.

    But i do suffer from procrastination and my attention span at computer is barely over half hour . Hence the above tips are quite handy to help my 2 minute noodles blogging binges.

    I am going to be frequently to copyblogger a lot more often from now.

  68. Hi everyone—
    it’s me the Author of this post—
    Mara Rogers

    Great comments everyone and feedback on mind-mapping and all of your very helpful suggestions to others.

    A special thank you to the many alternative suggestions people shared to create/write/add to your “Idea Banks 1 &2″
    Here’s a summary so far, so we can all keep track:
    @Chris plug in WP DashNote
    @Eliot Sykes Evernote.com
    @ Tisha Morris a voice recorder app on her iPhone
    @Khaled Ouanes ScribeFire/FireFox add on
    @ Keane Drop.io

    I know that my opinion on “Writer’s Block” would perhaps illicit some strong responses, and
    @Spencer Tweedy
    and
    @JD

    I hear you both, but for clarification, what I was saying was I know “Writers Block” “feels” real, but it is the ‘fear’ behind it that is what has to be dealt with, what is it that feels scary to you specifically about starting or finishing a specific article (or in general), and if that is dealt with (sometimes you have to deal with it more than once), there is no more writers block in your career! There is a link to a great article (written by Brian Clark) within mine on this very subject.

    If you are writing an article post that you may not have a lot of knowledge about the subject, then sure, maybe you need time to research first, of course. A strong, thoroughly fact-checked article is essential.

    Other times, you may “choose” to sit on an article if you only want it released to the public in a specific time period, and when the time is ripe you publish it.

    However, if someone is writing a news article for example, you have to publish it now or the “news” is old. And the opportunity is missed.

    But what I am talking about in this article is that the actual writing can move very swiftly.

    The subject of your article can be very serious, but you can have passion and fun writing it!

    This article is about tools to help you make it even more fun and productive, and provide you with a system that works.

    What I hear most people of you saying and I totally agree is that writing and blogging should be and is FUN.

    My opinion is that it can be a business and fun at the same time.

    I know that I have a lot of passion for writing and blogging and I always hope that shows no matter what topic I am writing about. And I think research should be taken very seriously, but as some point we have to click on “Publish.”

    What I want to share here is that we must “let” it be fun, we can not get in the way of our own writing.

    To your happiness,
    Mara Rogers

  69. I want to give a BIG shout out to Chris from

    @http://www.astro-geek.com

    for providing the tip on WP Dash Note. I had been looking for this plugin for a while, and couldn’t remember the name.

    Thanxs, Chris.

    Off to find and download it now. Sweet!!!

  70. I always always do number 1. I have a notepad or 2 in my bag… jot down ideas on the bus/at work, then i half type them up. Problem is I have 4 or 5 half typed up articles and I am not sure how to finish them!!

  71. @ Carly,

    That’s great that you keep track of your ideas!

    As far as your 4 or 5 half-typed articles you mentioned, try mind-mapping them now–it should help you finish them.

    And in the future give mind-mapping a whirl “before” you start writing and see if it helps–I really think it will.
    As others shared just google “Mind Mapping” and you will see many how-to’s.

    Any other suggestions from any of you for Carly????

  72. I’ve tried the notebook and pen idea but found that I just carried them with me and never wrote anything down. I like the digital personal recorder better because I use it. Walk the dog and come up with an idea and out comes my recorder. Just one click and nothing is lost. With pen and notebook I’d be juggling a leash, a bag of poop and trying to control a dog at the same time as trying to get an idea down. Hanging on to an idea till I got home was almost impossible.

  73. I was once told by no one less than Lynn Mamet (David’s sister, before you ask) That there is no Writer’s Block, only over intellectualization. Or, if you wish to use smaller words, overthinking. Conclusion, don’t think, just write, like you state above….

    Now, the time aspect, on the other hand, I haven’t gotten a hold of :)

  74. it’smy first time to visit copyblogger and i’m really impessed with the content, very informative…..

  75. I found your blog through another Internet marketing expert. I am glad I came over to check it out. These are really good tips. I am going to go soak up more of your tips on blogging.

  76. Thanks for all your (and your commenters) great tips. I use to use a digital recorder. However, I find that if I use Jott or CopyTalk, they will email me a transcript that I can edit. It saves me the transcription part.

  77. Amazing, best tips of ever, especially the step 2, now I know how to begin to write, thank you very much.

    About mind mapping, MindMeister is a great and free online tool: http://zacklive.com/free-online-mind-mapping-tool-mindmeister/362/

  78. I don’t believe in writers block either, but do believe there are not enough hours in the day. I have so many ideas that I usually have 3-4 posts in various stages of the writing process at all times. I think it would help me if I could run away from home. If I find a way, I’ll take the opportunity to learn how to mind map. Thanks for the tips.

  79. nice tips thanks! exelent page!

  80. Dear Mara Rogers,

    I just read your great article about combining posts in less time and I believe that I can use your tips for time saving..

    Thanks alot

  81. if I could run away from home. If I find a way, I’ll take the opportunity to learn how to mind map. Thanks for the tips.

  82. Awesome point, this really works if we practice it. Thanks for sharing. I gonna practice it:)