I was asked by David Steinbauer recently if there was any “secret” to my effort and ability to write for multiple blogs instead of focusing on one. I promised via Twitter that I would attempt a blog post response so here is my attempt at it.
For starters, there are a number questions within this larger inquiry that I believe can be sorted out and attacked individually – so I’ll give it a go and see if I can answer the global issue with the sum of its parts.
If you scan this blog you may find a few contradictions in my thinking when it comes to writing for multiple blogs. For starters, I am a super-fan of blogging out of your expertise, passions, and unique value. This post here on focus is one of my top visited posts of all time (and for good reason – here’s a good follow-up too). You can always change your content focus later, by the way.
There’s a lot to be said about why this works – but it’s obvious enough and that post does a great job of explaining my thoughts (so you must read it if you haven’t read it and even if you’ve read it before you should revisit it).
And yet, at the very same time, I’m also a very large fan of writing content that you’re not passionate about, content that highlights your interests and the things that cause a bit a curiosity to well up inside of you. While this might seem like a contradiction it’s really not, especially since the context is within how one should find a niche (through experimentation), which is both specialized and profitable.
I believe experimentation is the bedrock of true entrepreneurship and genius, by the way. Failure is a great one too. In this way you’ll know whether your time is having some return quickly and to know if a blog is a success.
So how does one reconcile the choice to blog for one property when you’re trying to focus your efforts? Isn’t it difficult to “focus” on more than one blog when you’re trying to be exceptional?
Yes and no.
You see, to answer this you must first consider your own context and circumstance as well as your own general interest and penchant for writing. Here are a few things that help clarify:
- Time – How much time do you have to dedicate to writing every single day (I believe in writing daily. Period.)? If you’ve only got 30 minutes then it makes complete sense that you write for only 1 blog at this point in time. If you’ve got more time then you can begin to slot in more posts per day or even begin to entertain another blog. Although please avoid the temptation to start something new.
- Personal Discipline – I can’t stress enough how important discipline is in terms of writing. I think writing is 99% discipline, 1% inspiration. I wake up 9 out of 10 times and don’t want to write anything. Sometimes I loathe the idea of sitting in front of my notebook and banging anything out. I also know that when I do wake up and love it end-to-end it’s enough to keep me going. But discipline fills in the gaps and those gaps are huge. If you don’t have the time then you already have showcased your lack of discipline because discipline would have blocked out time to write.
- Internal Motivation and Mastery – Mastery comes when you don’t quit. I’m interested in becoming a better writer. Are you? True writers write because there’s something within them that desire to get better; there’s an insatiable appetite to publish, to share, to educate, to admonish, to encourage others through the written word. They want to do it publicly. And they don’t quit – eventually, maybe, someone will give a shit.
- Boring Economics – Perhaps you’re a full-time writer or your job requires you to blog for multiple blogs. That’s a nice place to be, for some. This is self-evident.
- Talent – There are some of us that are just gifted in this area. I can’t explain it any more than that. I do not find myself in this category of overwhelming talent – I’ve just done it for so long that I can fake any talent through sheer execution.
If these things are in play then you can be indeed focused on multiple blogs. Perhaps each one has a variety of depth, breath, and general interest, but if you can do it then go for it.
Consequently, David, there are no secrets to my success. Nothing but a lifetime of writing, hard work, and scheduling in time every single day to write. There are no shortcuts here. You must write. You must work hard. You must plan for it daily.
But here are a few truths to help encourage you on your way to writing more:
- Fluidity – Writing doesn’t get easier the more you do it; whoever says that is a liar and hasn’t written long-enough to understand how fundamentally wrong that is. These same people might as well tell an Olympic athlete that running the 100m dash in less than 10 seconds gets easier with practice. Complete bullshit. Running sub-10 is hard, every single time. Just like writing as there are mornings where you wake up and writing is akin to death. But you still manage to do it. Why? Because it does become more fluid as you develop muscle memory that can slightly ease content creation over time. But it’s still tough.
- Financial – For those that are able to eventually trade their writing for financial compensation this can be a very satisfying transition. It can provide you more time to write as you no longer need that full-time job pushing papers in a cube farm but that doesn’t mean that it gets less difficult for the actual writing itself. Another neat thing that may happen is that it opens new doors for you, perhaps into consulting, speaking, and legit book publishing deals. Who knows where it can take you? Oh, the stories I could share with you about my own life and writing’s role in it.
- Fun – For some reason writing has become much more fun over time for me. Once the mist cleared of my honeymoon stage years ago (over a decade ago at this point) I began to write even more for myself instead of my audience. I started that way but something screwed me over half-way through and I began writing to please people. I’m now in a season where I’m coming back to my roots and it’s becoming fun again. I believe this is a cyclical process most likely so I’m enjoying it while I can.
In the end writing for multiple blogs is a combination of interest, talent, and time – only you can answer the question of whether you are functionally capable of writing for more than one blog at a time. If writing was purely a mental activity then I’d be “writing” for 1,000 blogs.
Photo Credit: Katie Tegtmeyer