7 Ways To Create A Consistent Writing Ritual + 2 FREE Tools To Help
Consistency is the new thing these days. It seems that a new course, masterclass, or webinar comes out every week that promises to finally instill the qualities and skills that are necessary for impeccable consistency into all who click that PayPal button. As I scroll through social media, I see at least 2 or 3 of my favorite content creators talking about consistency either as it relates to content or another area of creative business. When I take a look at their social numbers, their posts that talk about how they’ve earned six and sometimes seven figures with their businesses, and the opportunities that they get to participate in, I see the fruits of their consistency. Consistency is king (and queen), and there’s no way around that. It builds the trust with your audience that they can rely on you to predictably deliver quality content. It shows a high level of professionalism and discipline that attracts potential partnerships and business opportunities. It keeps you fresh in the game.
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Despite all of the glowing benefits, consistency, especially when it comes to blogging, can be very elusive for a writer. Even if we like to blog, we can sometimes find ourselves struggling to keep fresh content on our blogs while dedicating the time to our projects that is needed to create quality pieces. The products that we create, whether that’s novels, short stories, poetry collections, or essay collections, take much more time to craft and can’t be churned out in a matter of minutes once a working formula is discovered. To create the best product, we also must pour so much of ourselves into what we do, and that requires that we spend a lot of time doing the self work that is necessary before pen hits the paper or fingers hit the keyboard.
Blogging and other elements of the businesses that we run around our writing can at times seem like distractions or interruptions from the creative work that we really want to focus on, so over time these important tasks keep getting pushed to the “to do later” pile. This is the process behind how writers end up with blogs that haven’t been updated in months.
Sometimes the writing itself can get pushed to the later pile when we have to mold our writing careers around a day job or when other elements of our businesses seem to take over. When things get busy at my 9 to 5, I’ll get to a point where I realize that I haven’t written a poem, the beginning of a short story or anything for weeks. This is the most frustrating situation to be in, and I ask myself at times why I can’t find time to write since I know I love it so much. I’m really hard on myself about consistency and my writing because I know that the only way to become better and achieve the things I dream of is to push myself to create regularly.
I’m still working on being more consistent with not only with my blog, but everything within my writing career. So far, I’ve come to these realizations about exactly what it takes to be as consistent as I need to be for my writing career to be as fulfilling and successful as I want it to be:
Spend quality time on finding out what topics are your true passion
I mentioned self-work earlier in this post, and that is definitely key to writing, blogging, and creating quality products consistently. When I find myself having a hard time being consistent with content, usually that means that I’m not really that passionate about what I’m writing about. That’s when I have to take some steps back and ask myself, “What do I really want to say?” or “What do I really want to write about?”. It seems like your writing interests would be obvious to you, but sometimes you may surprise yourself when you allow yourself to be honest about where your interests really are or where your emotions really are. Take time to journal and free write to find your way to a topic or a view point that you can really get excited about.
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My new standard for my writing is that it has to make me excited. It has to say what I really feel. It has to be nuanced. I keep a list of possible blog posts, stories, poems, etc. If it makes me hype, I write it. If not, I scrap it or sit with it until it does make me hype. This process is a great writer’s block killer, but the self-work has to be done before it will truly work. This brings me to my next point…
Shut out social media and other content for a while
There’s a saying that I’ve seen circulate in various places that states that you should create more than you consume. This is one of my favorite affirmations because I catch myself consuming a little too much of other people’s work to the point that it complicates my efforts to create my own. When I put more energy into reading other people's content than I do into creating my own, I start to compare my content to theirs, and I start to slide into the habit of trying to write on topics that I’m really not that passionate about. I start to be unable to hear my own thoughts, and my true feelings about a topic get buried under the ones of someone else. All of this makes it hard to be authentic, and I find myself starting over and scraping a lot of content because it doesn’t feel right.
This wastes a lot of time, and I wind up with another blog postless, unproductive week.
I recently saw a conversation on Twitter about the lack of diversity among the topics that black content creators write about. It seems that everyone these days wants to be either a media critic or a social commentator that focuses on race or gender issues. I definitely think that both of these spaces need our voices, especially given all of the events in the news and the power that being represented in media has over the psyche of a group of people. Even I tend to gravitate toward these topics, but at the same time I know that there are so many other stories and perspectives that we as black people need to see represented about ourselves.
It’s starting to get to the point that everyone is saying the same thing or regurgitating the same viewpoints. This is a great example of what happens when writers don’t listen to their true passions for direction about what to write. I think writers are doing this because they see other writers experience success and fame from writing about a certain topic, and they think it will work for them, but the insincerity and lack of passion will flows through their work. Turn off the social media, get in tune with yourself, and write from there. That will work every time.
Turn off the social media, get in tune with yourself, and write from there. That will work every time.
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Take some time off
You may have to take a break from writing all together from time to time. Consistency often suffers when you’re burnt out. Take a vacation or a staycation and try some new things. Focus on relaxing, and then come back fresh and ready to work. When I see that the quality of the content on my blog is waning, I’ll take a break from posting to reevaluate and create based on those observations and lessons. Consistency doesn’t mean non-stop content all the time. Sometimes you’ve got to mentally re-up!
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Stop listening to gurus for a while and create a ritual that works for you
Over the past 2 to 3 years, I’ve learned so much from bloggers, writers, creative business coaches, and infopreneurs who create the type of content that gets you totally together. It’s almost like I can get an MBA, an MFA, and an online media degree level education through their free content alone. There comes a time, though, when you have to stop listening to what other people say should work or what works for them and lean into yourself to find the routine and ritual that works for you.
I know you’ve seen the memes that assert that no one who gets up in the morning past 4 am could possibly be successful or the lists of ten things that successful people do. Sometimes when I try too hard to adhere to these types of things, my consistency suffers because there’s always something within someone else’s routine or ritual that doesn’t quite work for me. Although I do believe that getting up early is one key to getting things done, 4 am will probably never become my regular wake up time. It doesn’t have to be, though. Getting up at 4 am isn’t what makes my faves successful. It’s the drive that they have to keep creating, and that drive comes from knowing what you have to offer and how that lines up with your passions.
Getting up at 4 am isn’t what makes my faves successful. It’s the drive that they have to keep creating.
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This is one that I resisted for a while. My thinking was that since I’m a personal blogger/writer and the posts I write are much longer than posts that most lifestyle bloggers write, it would be impossible for me to get all of my blog content done for the month at one time. However, blogging in real time was becoming very impractical for me. I would spend an entire month writing blog posts, and I was having a hard time being consistent with content if I had an extra stressful day at work or if something else popped up after I got home from work. The worst part was that writing blog posts in real time was sucking time away from other things that I wanted to do with my writing business, like work on my first book of poetry. I’ve read other posts on consistency and blogging, but this post from Bryanda Law of Quirky Brown Love really broke down the logistics of exactly how to batch write blog posts. Following her formula of limiting categories, deciding how many posts I want to write in a month, and setting a time period to get them done has taken a lot of stress out of blogging so that I can enjoy the process again and put more time into my creative work.
Set aside a regularly scheduled non-negotiable time period for writing
Saturdays are usually my days for getting a lot of writing done for both my blog and my creative work. Honoring the time that you choose to be your writing period can be hard at times, but writing does take a level of sacrifice. There are events that I’ve wanted to participate in that I’ve turned down because I know I have to get my writing time in. If something comes up that I have to handle during the time that I set aside for writing, I have to make that time up either the next day or later in the week. Great writers write. Writing is an inextricable part of their lives that they make time for as often as possible. You owe it to yourself and your readers to make time to participate in your passion regularly. Put your writing time on your calendar or in your planner and honor it like you would an appointment with someone else.
Put your writing time on your calendar or in your planner and honor it like you would an appointment with someone else.
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Hold yourself accountable
Unfortunately, many of us value the time of others more than we value our own time. We make a point to be dependable for other people in ways that we sometimes aren’t for ourselves because of the social and emotional consequences of letting people down. They may be angry with us. We may lose their trust. We might even lose great friends, relationships, or business opportunities when we let down other people. It’s the same when we let ourselves down.
When I don’t complete a goal or when it takes me longer to complete a goal than what it should have, I get angry at myself. I begin to not trust myself to do the things that are necessary to be successful. In addition to that, I think about all of the progress I could have made or the opportunities I could have had if I had been faithful to my own goals, especially when I see someone else accomplish what I dropped the ball on.
The person I’m most afraid of letting down is myself. That’s what keeps me accountable when it comes to my writing, business, and personal goals. We have no one to blame but ourselves when we don’t take our own dreams seriously.
The person I’m most afraid of letting down is myself. That’s what keeps me accountable when it comes to my goals.
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Create a writing space that encourages productivity and creativity
When I’m in a cluttered or undecorated space, I notice that my creativity goes down. It’s hard to focus with piles of random objects around you, and it’s hard to be inspired by blank vanilla walls. Invest not only in decorating your work space with things that are beautiful and bring you joy, but also in items that help you to create the workflows and systems that you need to work efficiently. When you aren’t frustrated constantly because you can’t find your favorite pen or the notebook you wrote that great idea in, your mind is free to dream up even more content. This will in turn drive up your consistency rate since you will be able to complete projects more quickly and with a higher quality of effort.
I’m working on my work space now, and one thing I really want is a creativity command center. That’s where I’ll hang my vision board for the year along with affirmations and tools that will help me to visualize my progress towards completing a goal or a project and stay organized in my business and writing career. My space will be designed specifically to support my writing goals, and having a space that is dedicated just to you is empowering by itself. You deserve to have a place that is dedicated to your goals, so sketch out a plan and make it happen! I’ll post updates about my process of creating this space for myself.
Consistency is a function of discipline, motivation, and systems that are tailored just for you. Self-knowledge and authenticity are central to process to achieve it.
What strategies do you use to create a consistent writing or blogging schedule?
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