productive writer

7 Tips for Writers Drowning in a Sea of Unwritten Content

by Ali Luke


The blank screen. The huge list of content to create. The intense desire to hide under the duvet.

You’ve got so much writing to do.

But your life is packed full. You don’t have enough time.

So you get more behind every day.

What’s worse, every other blogger you know seems to have no problem churning out post after post after post.

Are you the only one who struggles with their writing workload?

Don’t believe it for a second.

If your biggest problem is not having enough time to write, you’re perfectly normal. Almost every blogger out there feels the same way.

Why Every Blogger Feels Short of Time, Most of the Time

Bloggers struggle with a lack of time even more than most writers.

  • We have tons of content to produce: not just posts for our own blogs, but guest posts for other people’s blogs, freebie incentives, ebooks, ecourses, social media updates, writing jobs on the side
  • We have a heck of a lot of distractions: social media, endless emails, comments to moderate and answer, people to network with, and the inevitable and unwelcome techy headaches that go with running a blog …
  • We have other work to do: either a day job – full-time or part-time – or an income stream (like coaching, or creating information products, or doing client work) that takes up most of our time.

So how do we get it all done?

Well, most bloggers simply don’t.

They lose momentum with their own blog, posting so infrequently that readers drift away. They rarely or never guest post. They don’t even make enough money to cover their web hosting bill.

Eventually, they quit blogging altogether.

Are you slipping down that path too?

Trust me, I get it. Overwhelm can crush your writing spirit. You can only fight to keep up for so long. And even as you struggle on day by day, the temptation to give up grows and grows.

And yet … some bloggers do manage to make a huge splash.

They make the time to write – a lot. They constantly learn and improve.

They grow an audience. They get noticed. They make money.  It’s hard work, sure, but it’s incredibly rewarding to meet your goals and live your dreams.

So don’t let your blog become yet another abandoned, dusty corner of the Internet.

Don’t let your dreams fade and die.

Here’s how to regain control of your writing schedule and turn things around:

Tip #1: Step Away from the Keyboard

When I’m faced with far too much writing and far too little time, sometimes I look at my to-do list, take a deep breath, and …

… panic.

No, I’m not recommending this. 😉 Panic-based writing really isn’t a good idea.

But maybe you’ve seen this in your own work. You glance at your writing to-do list, immediately get a knot in your stomach, and then leap at the computer and type as fast as you can on whatever topic appeals at that moment.

You start at a breakneck pace, and you keep going without pausing to reflect.

An hour later, you realize that you hate the topic you chose, and you don’t have enough material for a post anyway. Maybe you should just practice plastering a smile on your face and asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

A week later, you realize you forgot some crucial part of your content calendar (which exists only in your head) and wonder if anyone noticed.

Confession time: after returning from maternity leave and diving back into things, a month passed before I noticed I hadn’t sent out a single issue of my supposedly weekly email newsletter … oops.

So don’t panic. Instead, take another deep breath, and step away from the computer.

Grab a pen and paper, and write down any of the following:

  • Regular writing commitments. Daily, weekly or monthly. Blog posts. Email newsletters. New modules for your week-by-week ecourse. Ideally, use this as a basis for a content calendar, where you include a title (or at least a topic) for each piece of regular content over the next month.
  • One-off writing commitments. Guest posts. Email interviews. Individual client projects, if you’re a freelance writer. You may want to merge this with your content calendar or have two separate ones: whatever works for you.

I like to plan on paper because it helps me focus. Here’s what I’ve got on my plan for the next couple of weeks:

productive writer planner

If you can’t get everything done, figure out where ditching or delaying content will do the least harm. Your blog will probably be fine without a post this week – but that guest post you’ve promised to an editor really needs to get in by the deadline, or you’re unlikely to be invited back in the future.

Tip #2: Stop Committing to So Much Writing

If you’re constantly struggling to fit your writing into the time you have available … you’re trying to do too much.

Well, duh. You knew that already. Except it seems to keep on happening.

If taking on too much is a recurring problem for you, you need to work on saying “no” – not just to other people, but to yourself.

Chances are, you’ve already got too much on your plate. So while you’re building your “no” muscles, try the following:

  • Ask for extra time with guest posts or client projects (especially if the scope has increased beyond what was initially discussed – this gives you a good excuse). You definitely shouldn’t make a habit of doing this, but it’s better to be up-front and renegotiate a deadline rather than miss it entirely.
  • Cut down on how much you write for your own blog or newsletter. You could either do this by posting and emailing less frequently, or by writing shorter pieces. If you’ve never asked your readers how often they want to hear from you, find out: by blogging daily when they want two posts per week, you may well be losing readers as well as clogging up your writing time.
  • Reuse old material. This could be as simple as linking to posts from your archive, or it could mean dusting off an old post, updating it, and republishing it. If you started a blog a while back, many of your readers probably have never read some of your early posts.

Saying “no” can be really tough, especially if you’re worried about missing out on a potentially great opportunity, or if you’re anxious not to offend anyone.

But it’s how you say “no” that matters. Do it right and you’ll protect yourself from writing overload without closing any doors.

How to Say “No” While Leaving Room for a “Yes” Later (on Your Terms)

A quick Google search will give you plenty of advice on saying “no” – but here’s one simple trick that works for me:

Whenever someone asks you to write a guest post (or reply to interview questions, or take part in a podcast…) just respond like this:

Thanks so much for thinking of me! I’m really busy right now, but I might have some time in a couple of months. Could you drop me a line in [month] and I’ll see if I’ve got space in my schedule?

This way, the onus is on them to remember to ask you again (and often they won’t). If you decide, belatedly, that you actually would love to take them up on that opportunity, simply email again:

I’ve had a bit of time open up in my schedule, and wondered if you’d still like me to [write a guest post for you / be an interviewee on your blog / etc]? If so, just shoot me the details and I’ll be glad to help!

You can use this technique on yourself too. Any time you’re about to take on a new writing commitment, stop, tell yourself you’re going to wait a few days before committing, and put a note in your calendar to review at an appropriate point.

Also think about how valuable each finished piece of content is. Sure, it’s important to blog regularly, but if skipping a couple of posts this month means you can finish your opt-in incentive, that’s probably an even better use of your time.

Tip #3: Use Your “Weird” Time to Sneak in Some Writing

Your life might look nothing like mine. (Right now, a good amount of my time revolves around two young children, mountains of laundry, and washing-up created in their wake.)

It’s a safe bet, though, that your life – like mine – involves some “weird time.”

Weird time (hat-tip to Naomi Dunford’s fab marketing newsletter for introducing me to the term) includes all those little pockets of time where you’re stuck waiting for something.

You’re sitting in the car, waiting for pick-up time at your kid’s school.

You’re sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, waiting for your appointment.

You’re sitting on the sofa, waiting for an ad break to end.

It’s easy to use weird time to flip through a magazine or stare into space or look at Facebook on your phone.

But nothing’s stopping you from using it to write.

Sure, your pockets of weird time might be really small. But maybe, on an average day, you have a total of ten minutes or so.

You could use that time to jot down a bunch of ideas for blog posts or outline posts based on previous ideas. Keep a little notebook and a pen in your pocket or bag and you’ll never have to stare at the clock in your dentist’s waiting room again.

By the end of a week, you’ll have clocked up a good hour of brainstorming and planning – and that could be all you need to get back on top of all your writing.

Multitask During Mundane Time

A not-too-distant cousin of weird time is mundane time.

Mundane time is the time you spend doing the dishes or driving to your day job or picking up the kids’ toys or running on the treadmill.

It needs doing. It takes your physical presence but not necessarily much of your mental presence.

Mundane time doesn’t gel well with writing – your hands are probably occupied – but it’s an ideal opportunity to learn more about writing, blogging, or business.

If you’ve bought any audio seminars or webinars that you’ve failed to listen to, load them onto your phone or tablet so that you can fire them up during your next chunk of mundane time.

Otherwise, just subscribe to some good podcasts that help you with your goals. I’m currently enjoying This is Your Life (Michael Hyatt),  The Creative Giant Show (Charlie Gilkey), The Creative Penn podcast (Joanna Penn), and the new ProBlogger podcast (Darren Rowse).

Alternatively, if you’re keen to use this time to create, try recording audio notes or outlines for blog posts using your smartphone or a digital recorder.

Tip #4: Ditch and Streamline Your Non-Writing Tasks

You’ve almost certainly got some blog-related tasks eating up what could be good time – things like replying to emails, being active on social media, uploading posts, and so on.

The usual advice here is to hire an assistant. And if you can afford to do so, please go ahead! But if you’re blogging for passion not profit, or you want to make money but are barely scraping together enough income to cover the hosting bill, hiring an assistant might be a bit out of reach.

Instead …

Set Expectations about Response Times

Set expectations – yours and other people’s.

With emails, you might want to include something on your contact page along the lines of “I normally reply to emails within 48 hours” to let readers know what to expect from you. That way, you can respond to emails in one batch, rather than dropping everything to answer each query as it comes in.

With comments, holding back from replying instantly can give your readers space to interact with one another, and you may find that you build a stronger community on your blog with a slightly “hands off” approach. People will learn not to expect you to reply right away.

And trust me, you do not need to be checking Facebook and Twitter every few minutes. Followers do not expect an immediate reply, and the nature of social media is such that you don’t have to reply to everything.

Just remember, social media can be a distraction – and it pulls you out of the flow of writing.

Get More Efficient

Have specific times of day for certain tasks. You might, for instance, read and reply to emails at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm every day. You might only go onto social media sites during coffee breaks (set an alarm to go off after 10 minutes, so you don’t lose track of time).

And, on a social media note, don’t spread yourself too thin. Posting on five different social media sites is pointless – pick the one or two where your core audience is most likely to be active, and just use those.

Develop Processes for Repeated Tasks

You probably have all sorts of tasks that you do on a daily, weekly, or at least monthly basis. Even if these only take you a few minutes each time, that time adds up.

A clear process not only saves you time, but it also prevents you from forgetting crucial steps, and it means you can more easily hand over the task to an assistant in the future.

For instance, you could use the following:

  • Canned (template) responses for emails. If you find that readers email you the same questions repeatedly, come up with a simple response that you can customize easily. I use the Gmail extension Canned Responses for this, and I find it invaluable.
  • Checklists for tasks such as sending out your email newsletter. It’ll save you time and help you be consistent. You’ll also avoid embarrassing mistakes (like broken links that you forgot to check). Keep this wherever makes most sense for you: I use the notebook section of The Journal from DavidRM Software; you might prefer Scrivener, Google Docs, or even a Word document.

Here’s the checklist I use for sending out weekly emails to my Writers’ Huddle members:

Weekly Emails


  • Copy last week’s email.
  • Change subject line.
  • Change date.
  • Follow pattern below for content.
  • Change latest seminar in footer if 1st Monday.
  • Test.
  • Schedule for Monday, 11:15 am Eastern.

Huddle emails pattern:

  • 1st Monday – new seminar announcement
  • 2nd Monday – seminar reminder; if you enjoyed this seminar, you might also enjoy…
  • 3rd Monday – this time last year…
  • 4th Monday – this time two & three years ago…
  • (5th Monday – mini-course to check out)

Tip #5: Focus on the Quality of the Result, Not the Quantity of the Writing

In the blogosphere, you can get caught up in numbers easily. Perhaps you find yourself focusing on how many posts you’ve written, or how many words you’ve written … and that could be taking your attention away from what matters.

Would you rather write ten so-so guest posts that bring you twenty new readers each, or write one fantastic guest post that brings you two hundred new readers (and the attention of some big name bloggers)?

Either way, the numbers are the same: you get two hundred new readers. But writing ten posts – even ten hasty posts – probably will take you longer than writing one. Plus, pouring your heart into that one great post will be much more rewarding.

When you’re setting your goals, look for alternatives that will take less time but net you similar (or perhaps even greater) rewards.

That might mean the following:

  • Spending three hours on a single weekly blog post, not five hours on five daily posts.
  • Sending out a monthly newsletter with great fresh content, not a weekly one with a couple of sentences and a few links.
  • Producing one great ecourse as an opt-in incentive, rather than a library of five mini ebooks.

Don’t get me wrong; quantity still matters.

Five guest posts going up in a single week will make more impact than five posts going up across five months. But simply being prolific won’t be enough to make you successful – and doing so could easily make you burn out fast.

Tip #6: Stop Waiting – Use Your Best Ideas Now!

Maybe you’ve got some great ideas that you’re sitting on for now … until your blog is bigger. Until you have the right guest posting opportunity. Until you feel ready to write them.

But by ignoring the ideas you already have, you’re forcing yourself to spend time coming up with even more ideas – time that could be spent writing the ones you already have.

So stop saving your best ideas for some perfect future time. You can – and will! – have more great ideas in the future. By using the great ideas you already have, you’ll stretch the mental muscles for coming up with new ones.

Plus, those big opportunities might not come at all until you’ve written the best posts you’re currently capable of.

It’s only by writing your best posts that you grow as a writer – so that the next time you have a great idea, you can make even more of it.

When you’ve exhausted your best ideas list, it’s time to generate some more. Try the following:

  • Stop waiting for the muse to strike. Intentionally brainstorm new ideas. “Weird time” is good for this (see above). You may struggle to allow yourself time to play around with ideas and research when you’ve got loads of words to write … but strong ideas make for easy-to-write posts.
  • Survey your readers to find out what they want to read. This may well surprise you. One of my most popular posts, 7 Habits of Serious Writers, was suggested by a reader comment. I used the title word-for-word and acknowledged them in the post.
  • Revisit the ideas you threw on the scrapheap. Even your so-so ideas might, with a little bit of work, become something truly special.

Step #7: Become a Super-Productive Writer by Batching Similar Tasks

You probably already know it’s a good idea to batch routine tasks together – replying to a bunch of emails at once, rather than answering each as it comes in, for instance.

While writing is a bit more creative than many other tasks, you can still use the batching system.

The different stages of the writing process – coming up with ideas, creating plans, drafting, and then editing – can be tricky to do one after the other. Some involve more creative energy (ideas, drafting) and other are more analytical (plans, editing).

So, instead of starting with an idea, going straight from that into a plan then a draft, and so on, try this week-long plan. (Feel free to tweak the timings to suit you.)

  • Monday (am): Come up with 10 ideas for your blog and 10 ideas for guest posts.
  • Monday (pm): Write outlines for five posts for your blog and five guest posts.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: Draft several posts over two days. Just pick an outline you wrote yesterday, copy it into your document (or the WordPress editor), and start writing. Having something down on the page is a huge psychological boost.
  • Thursday: Edit your posts, looking for ways to add greater value to the reader – e.g., by including clear action steps, or links to further information.
  • Friday: Proofread and publish your posts – or if they’re guest posts, submit them to the blog editors.

Batching tasks like this may feel unnatural at first (for instance, when you finish the first draft of a post, you may feel the urge to edit it right away), but frequently switching gears between different types of tasks can be hugely inefficient.

And think of it like this, how will you improve your productivity unless you try something that feels different? Doing the same things will lead to the same results.

What Will YOU Do Differently This Week?

No blogger ever feels they have enough time to write. (If you think it’s different for the big names, check out this post by father-of-three Darren Rowse.)

If you want to be more productive, be more proactive.

Get focused on your goals, look for crafty ways to achieve more with less work, and streamline your writing process as much as possible.

You don’t need to try every one of the tips above right away – but if you can get even one or two of them implemented in your writing life, you’ll see a huge difference.

So this week, choose one idea from the post to put into action. Write it down, commit to it, and review how your writing’s going in a week’s time.

Don’t let overwhelm drag you down. Get back on top of your writing.

And soon other bloggers will look at your writing output and wonder:

How on earth do they do it?

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Ali Luke

Ali Luke has been freelancing full-time since 2008, writing for sites including Copyblogger, ProBlogger, Craft Your Content, The Write Life, and more. Her blog Aliventures has tips to help you make the most of your writing time.


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Photo of author

Written by Ali Luke

Ali Luke has been freelancing full-time since 2008, writing for sites including Copyblogger, ProBlogger, Craft Your Content, The Write Life, and more. Her blog Aliventures has tips to help you make the most of your writing time.

96 thoughts on “7 Tips for Writers Drowning in a Sea of Unwritten Content”

  1. Hi Ali,

    Congrats! Getting to write for BBT is big time, and you’ve now done it TWICE! 🙂

    I’ve missed seeing you on Daily Blog Tips, so it’s great to see you writing here. And, to no one’s surprise, you knocked it out of the park.

    I’m definitely one of those bloggers who feels short of time. Of course, this makes sense because I am short on time usually. Haha. Distractions, tons of content to produce, and — the big one — my day job all play a part in making me feel overwhelmed most days.

    So how do I do it? Honestly, I don’t know! Magic, I guess. 😉

    These are great tips you’ve suggested for those times when my schedule does seem out of control. Tip #2 is the one I’ve had to adapt this year. I was just juggling too many things. I had to cut back. Posting frequency reduced, guest blogging reduced, etc. It’s not ideal, but I had to do it until my schedule became more manageable.

    I’ll be tweeting this as soon as I click “post” on this comment! Enjoy today… it’s going to be a wild ride. 🙂


    • Thanks Kevin! It’s fabulous to be back here. 🙂 I’ve really missed DBT … it was one of the things I had to drop when baby #2 was imminent. (Now a big almost seven month old!)

      I think cutting back and doing fewer things, but doing them well, is a sensible move. Hope your schedule calms down soon though. And thanks for the tweet!

      • I realised I hadn’t seen you around as much as usual lately, but I had no idea you’d just had a baby. That explains everything. At least when the baby’s at 7 months’ old you’re reaching the point where you can start to focus on non-baby things again. 🙂

        Good luck with it! Nice post, BTW.

  2. Hey Ali,

    Great post here on BBT. This is something I struggle with at times. Fortunately for me, I don’t lose momentum of have any thoughts of quitting. But I know of other people who do and it’s sad. I’ll be sharing this post with them.

    Tip #2 is really interesting to me because I’m going through that now. Ever since I cut back my regular one post a week schedule, I take longer with my posts. I have guest posts that take me much longer than usual to write now. Perhaps because I’m trying to write a few of them at a time and it just takes up so much time.

    But even so, I still follow tip #5 with it. I make sure the quality is always up to par. As everyone should. Nothing worse than rushed content that has nothing to do with nothing.

    Great post once again, Ali. I think I’m going to follow step #7. I’d love to crank out quality posts in less time than I’m doing. This gives me a goal to set and hopefully achieve. Have a great day and week.

    – Andrew

    • Thanks Andrew! With the guest posts taking more time, I think that Parkinson’s Law may apply here: work expands to take up all the time available for it.

      Can you set yourself a time-limit per guest post? Or even simply track how long you’re currently spending, then try to gradually reduce that? Either of those would fit well with working on step #7.

      Of course quality matters, and I agree with you that rushed content isn’t worth writing or reading!

  3. Hi, Ali,

    I love the email you send about not doing a guest blog post – I’m stealing that one!

    Also, without my calendar of every last thing I need to do – I’d be totally lost.

    Thanks for the great info,

  4. Great tips, Ali. The best way I’ve ever found for churning out a ton of content every day is to keep a notebook in my pants pocket. Whenever I’m in the pub by myself (surprisingly often) I hide myself away from unwanted conversations by pulling out my notebook. And writing. I have to write something, don’t I? So I write a blog post. Most of the posts at my Writers’ Village site have been written, painlessly, that way…

    • John – I do the same but recently stole Ann Lammott’s idea for keeping index cards with me. When I want to write at length, I pull out the notebook. If it’s just a quote, idea, thought or observation, it goes on the index card. It takes me back to my 9th grade English research paper. I’m visual, and I like the act of writing with a pen in hand. So, arranging the index cards to see if there are any relationships that may put a bit of the “unexpected” into my writing has been exciting. It’s still new a new practice for me. Not sure if it’ll work longterm.

      • I have a mini-notebook in my bag to pull out in such moments (though sadly, very little of my life is currently spent in the pub)!

        Heather, thanks for the tip on the index cards. I’m not a naturally visual person, but I do find that breaking out of linear note-taking can help me dig deeper into large ideas (e.g. if I’m planning a series of posts or an ecourse).

  5. Love the post Ali! For the week I’m going to focus on developing a checklist for my blog posts from inception to follow up so I can make sure that my posts get the best coverage possible.

  6. Thanks, Ali. This is just what the doctor ordered today. Impeccable timing. Terrific advice. This goes in my “favorites” for review on days wrought with overwhelm.

  7. Hi Ali,

    Great post! I really love your batching suggestion, especially applied to drafting posts. I have never seen this suggestion anywhere before!

    I bet I could get so much more done if I drafted a bunch of posts before moving on to refining them, as opposed to doing one from start to finish. Thank you 🙂


  8. Ali, that was one excellent article! I especially loved when you said, don’t let your blog become yet another abandoned, dusty corner of the internet. Love that!
    Truly, this post is one I will bookmark and refer to often. Awesome Sauce!!!

    • Thanks Jennifer! It’s so easy to give up on our writing dreams — and often very understandable — but sometimes, a few tweaks to our working routine makes all the difference in beating overwhelm.

  9. Hi Ali, great post and exactly what I needed to hear today. There are so many things to write but very little time 🙂

    The biggest takeaway from your article was “Stop Waiting – Use Your Best Ideas Now!”

    I was given this advice before about public speaking and it helped me with creating presentations. I used to hoard my ideas until one day I can sit down and develop them into a solid presentation.

    My mentor at the time told me to not wait and start incorporating my best ideas into my old presentations.

    This made my old presentations much better and unexpected side benefit was that my mind was free to come up with more great ideas.

    Thanks and look forward to reading more of your articles.

    BTW- I saw that you have another post on here and I am planning to read it next:
    “21 Dumb Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your First E-book”

    • Thanks Peter! Great suggestion about using your best ideas during presentations, too — I think good advice often applies across several mediums. Sounds like you had an invaluable mentor. 🙂

      Hope you enjoy my ebooks post (and best of luck with your ebook!)

  10. Great perspective, Ali.

    One thing well over many things poorly. That’s a timely reminder for me that the web has too much of most things already, but not enough insightful things.

    I don’t spend much time in the pub, alone or otherwise, but I do go walking, stepping completely away too, as I don’t have anything electronic that isn’t fastened to my desk. But while out walking I’m thinking about the most significant things I could contribute, and that helps me return and focus on the drops that matter in the sea of everything floating about unwritten.


    • Walking is such great thinking time. I’m impressed you can leave the tech behind (I’m sure I’d get withdrawal symptoms without my phone!) I love “the drops that matter in the sea of everything floating about unwritten” — there are always so many things we COULD write but only a very select few that will really make a difference.

  11. “Stop Waiting: Use Your Best Ideas Now”

    LOL – did you read my mind? I am not a prolific idea generator, but every so often something interesting pops up in my empty head! But I am waiting for the ‘right’ chance to transform that idea into a finished product 😛

    Hmm…maybe NOW is the right time, eh? 😀

    Oh, and I am horrible at utilizing the ‘Weird Times’ (Nice phrase, indeed!). But I found some exhilarating podcasts – both writing and non-writing related – that have rejuvenated my interest in listening to these shows!

    Thanks Ali 🙂

    • I think it’s a really easy mistake to make, Kitto! And yes, NOW is the right time. Go for it!

      I find that good podcasts aren’t just a useful source of information, they’re also inspiring: just listening to them makes me feel like writing more, meeting my goals, etc.

  12. Great article, Ali.

    I’ve been feeling this way a lot mainly because I have so many ideas and just can’t get them all on paper.

    You’ve sparked a change, though … I’ve been thinking about what kind of e-course to create and your post makes me realize that maybe what I thought was an e-book would work better as a course.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    • Thanks Rachael! Hope the ecourse planning goes well. 🙂

      Can you jot down the bare bones of your ideas and put them on a list for “some point in the future” — so that you know you’ve captured them and that you can easily come back to them when the time is right?

  13. Ali – Thank you for bringing the idea of Weird Time to my attention. I have more of that type of time than I care to think about.

    I am guilty of using this time to catch up on Instagram or, if I’m completely honest, sleep (but only if I’m waiting in the car – never at the Orthodontist office. Well, not on purpose.

    I’m going to discipline myself to take advantage of the Weird Time.

    • Heather, if napping is weird time, I’m completely twisted! I sleep at lights too, since in Vegas they are set at Maximum Smog generation and each of them turn red as you drive up to them. Even if you’re the only one on the road. This is so you’ll get frustrated and just stop at the nearest casino, which is right there at your intersection, go in and lose money.

      • gigi“each of them turn red as you drive up to them. Even if you’re the only one on the road” – That would annoy the fire out of me! I’d probably steal naps too. I’ve never been much into gambling, especially in places packed with people and noise.

    • Sometimes a nap is probably the best use of weird time — I’m definitely more productive when I’ve had more sleep (sadly tricky with two little ones!)

  14. I wish I had some of these problems, Ali. I won’t expect you to reply to this for awhile.

    I related to the weird time and mundane time, which I call ‘stuck in traffic’. I’ve come up with a lot of content idling at lights and sucking up exhaust. Contrary to popular belief, exhaust fumes are good for brain cells. I keep a notebook in my car.

    Once, at a light, a young man came up to my window requesting funds for a women’s drug rehab program. The song playing full blast on the radio was ‘Hooked on a Feeling’. Is that a post, or what?

    I’ve generated ideas just from making comments on other people’s articles, like this one. So thanks for that. It must be the interactive thing. Anything that gets you creative is good, and since some of it is good stuff, I steal it back for my own blog. Multitasking the American way!

    I know this isn’t about coming up with content, but rather managing it. If I’ve got a lot of post ideas, I get them written and schedule them for once a week. I’ll edit them while they’re in the hopper. Then, I can relax.

    I’m also retired, so I don’t expect that everyone has the same amount of free time I do. Funny thing is, the more free time I supposedly have, the more I have to do. The days zoom by.

    Unlike the traffic.

    • I think interaction is great for ideas — and nothing wrong with spinning an idea off someone else’s! In fact, this is a really good use for any sub-par blog posts (or seminars, etc) you end up enduring … you can almost always come up with lots of ideas about what you could write/say differently!

      All the retired folks I know seem to end up with more than enough to do (and I don’t think they’d have it any other way). I certainly can’t imagine retiring from writing!

  15. Hi Ali!
    Great tips and a welcome list of great ideas. I am planning to launch my blog on Aug. 3. talk about timing in terms of setting up a few things while I am still testing and checking out various plugins. I often come up with ideas, then of course the resources on the web have my head swimming most of the time–(-:
    Congratulations on the great post here, and I wish you continued success!

    • Best of luck with the launch, Jireh — exciting times. 🙂 It’s easy to get a bit overloaded by all the content out there — I sometimes find I have to just take a step back and write!

  16. Ali,

    What a timely post! My dashboard is littered with unfinished posts.

    I use Google Keep to organize my “weird time” ideas. It syncs across all of your various devices and is less likely to be ruined by going through the laundry or having a drink spilled on it.

    I’ll take on #5. It drives the point home. I want to post more frequently. I am focused on posts or projects two, three or four weeks out and can’t focus on this week. This week turns into next week and so on. I like quality better anyway.

    Great post!

    • Ooh, I’ve never tried Google Keep. Will have to give it a whirl at some point!

      It’s great you’re planning ahead and focusing on longer-term projects (I find I’m often too focused on the week in progress, only for larger projects to get shunted aside). Can you split your time between “this week” and “future” projects in some way? E.g. mornings for one, afternoons for another, or different days of the week “themed” for different types of content?

    • In fairness Evan, for the most part, the blogs that are publishing multiple times per week are either taking guest posts, have behind the scenes help or have a team of writers.

      There are exceptions like James Altucher and Seth Godin, but they are outliers.

      Google loves new content, but hates ‘skinny content’ that is just slapped up for the sake of it. So it’s all about balancing the two and you are probably better with one 1,500+ word post (the longer the better) per week than 3 at 500 words.

  17. Thanks, Ali, for a thought-provoking post. It was a nice kick in the pants for me.

    I like your seventh tip, batching tasks, a lot. It never occurred to me to brainstorm and write “in bulk,” instead of micromanaging myself into going from start to finish one blog at a time. And it fits in well with tip number four; I can implement that by setting strict times to check and answer emails as well as read and contribute to the forums and groups I belong to.

    I look forward to more posts from you!

    • Thanks Deena! I find the batching works really well for me, particularly with the ideas and planning stages — hope it fits well with your workflow too.

      Emails and forums and groups can eat up so much time (at least for me!) — they’re all good things in their own right, but none of them can replace writing. Hope you can get a great balance between having the social and networking benefits of them, while keeping as much time for writing as possible.

  18. Thanks Ali. I realized my sweet spot for posting was one per week. That’s it. Yes, I know those who churn out a post a day and do it well. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I tried 2-3 times per week and became a mad woman. And my writing reflected that. One post a week keeps me sane and the quality at a good level. I guess in the end, its what works for us. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Well, once a week seems to work just fine for Boost Blog Traffic! As you say, it’s about finding what works for us — and also, I think, what works for readers. Personally, I’d much rather read one really good post every week than one so-so one every day … and I suspect a lot of busy readers feel the same way.

  19. Burning out is just now the blogging standard for the entrepreneur, being the blogger himself the owner/ writer/ marketer/ it/ etc.

    But nothing more rewarding than as you stated, getting goals achieved and things done.

    I liked your recommendations on writing a practical content posting calendar.

    I always read all new posts in BoosBlogTraffic but rarely do I comment. This is one heck of advice, thanks a lot.

    P.S. Will be using all of your tips on my own building of my site. You’ve been warned!

  20. Thanks Ali! I love that you’ve given some super-practical tips. Such as HOW to say no (not just that we need to) and an example of batching tasks. I hadn’t come across your writing before, but I like your friendly style and practicality… so I’ve signed up for your free e-course. Looking forward to hearing more from you. And I’m off right now to create a canned template.

    • Thanks so much, Mely, and welcome to On Track! Saying “no” is something I still find tough, but I’m definitely far better at it than I used to be.

      I’m so pleased the post came across as both friendly and practical — two things I always strive for! Hope you find the canned template really handy (and hope it’s the first of several time-saving ones for you). 🙂

  21. I like this “Five guest posts going up in a single week will make more impact than five posts going up across five months.”

    100% agree. Appearing in multiple places over a short period of time has an undeniable social proof impact and it’s what good book launchers achieve to build up critical mass.

    Hope you’re well Ali and good to see you here!

    • Thanks Tim! Great to bump into you here. 🙂 Excellent point about launching a book with an intense spell of guest posting. It can be hard work to pull off, but has so much impact that it’s worth ditching some other writing for.

  22. Ali,
    Thanks for the suggestions. The main takeaway is to be better organized prior to what we do. I scramble – not panic (ha!) – when I have a number of things to do just so I can check them off, but with more organization behind the week, such as a modified content calendar you talk about, it should become easier.

    I usually write creatively during the weird time, something I’ve done for a long time, it helps flesh out ideas that I can use both creatively and professionally. Just that you mention it helps solidify it as a positive and optimal process for me.

    • For me, organisation is a battle I have to fight again and again … it’s easy to get on top of things, relax a bit too much, then find everything slipping back into chaos.

      I also find it a bit too easy to focus on checking off the easier, quicker tasks at the expense of the more important ones — nowadays, I split my to-do list into different categories (client work, project work, admin tasks) so I can keep my focus on what really matters.

  23. Hey Ali,

    Now how many of us are crushed for time to write?

    I would have to say the majority of us. Especially those of us that have full-time jobs and a family to take care. But is it impossible to write with so little time. Well if bloggers follow these tips they’ll definitely find the time to write quality posts.

    I can definitely relate to #2, #5, and #7… I use to write every other day, but changed it to writing once a week, and writing longer more quality post. And I write each post in batches, but I like to add some other projects I’m working to the batch process like writing ebooks. In all, with this change, I started to get better results with doing a little less, bring more value. Sounds like an oxymoron by it works quite well.

    Thanks for sharing and have a great rest of the week!

    • I’m with you there, Sherman — I think most bloggers are really stretched for time, and I sometimes feel that conventional blogging advice doesn’t really take into account that most people have day jobs, families, voluntary commitments, and so on!

      Sounds like you’re doing everythingright already. You’re right that sometimes less really is more. Hope you have a great end to the week too!

  24. Hi Ali

    OMG it’s like you were peering through my office window. I write for my non-blogging job too so when the writing muse is playing hide n seek I’m royally screwed.

    A bit of perfectionism also slows down my writing process – I’m going to have a go at using the batching process along with a couple of other anti-perfectionism techniques. I think that might be a real winner.

    Thanks so much for these common-sense (and motivating) tips!

    • Ack, I think if you write outside of blogging too, that’s particularly tough! I write fiction and also do a bit of ghostwriting for clients, and sometimes there’s only so many words my brain can cope with.

      Perfectionism can be really tough to overcome. I think the batching process will help — do pop back and let us know how it’s going. If I’m reluctant to let a post go, I tell myself I can always come back and edit it again in the future!

  25. Everything you mentioned here is spot on! As a newer writer, getting used to the constant load of writing is something I am still struggling with. This post shares so much helpful information for someone who is struggling to stay on their feet and keep up with their writing tasks as well as everything else life envolves. I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to write this positive and encouraging blog post!

    • You’re very welcome, Jonathan — thanks for the lovely comment! Yes, the constant pressure to publish that’s inherent in blogging can be a real challenge — on balance, I enjoy it (it’s helped me get lots of words out there into the world) but it takes some getting used to.

  26. Hi Ali

    First of all thanks for referring your maternity leave in the post as before that I was taking you as male blogger because your name Ali is for boys in our part of the world. So this is one of the biggest addition in my knowledge after reading this post. Lolz.

    All the points you mentioned for staying productive writer are quite unique and while reading them I was just thinking if I earlier read them ever and for each one my answer was NO as I believe I am an avid reader and not so active writer.

    But after reading this post I got to know everyone has almost the same problems which I am facing and in blogging a wonderful mix of quality and quantity can make one noticeable by all.

    Thanks a lot for sharing such valuable points to save time, stay focused and keep writing without compromising on quality.

    • Haha, no worries, Mi. You’re definitely not the first person (online!) to think I’m a man. “Ali” is short for “Alison” — but only my grannies call me that. 😉 A lot of people here in the UK spell it “Allie” or “Ally” which is probably a bit easier to see as female.

      Glen (the fabulous editor of BBT) pushed me to come up with some new points that weren’t already common advice, so I’m really pleased that this came across in the finished post. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  27. So true, down to the duvet I want to hide under.

    I finally took the time today to write something for my own site – I get so busy with my client’s blogs that I rarely update my own. Instead of feeling crappy about only getting one blog post written today, I feel pretty good about focusing on it for a few hours.

    I find that a lot of times, I hesitate because I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be writing about, or I haven’t tied the topic together, or I haven’t done enough research.

    • I work with clients (though not many these days) and finding time for your own work can be SO tough. Well done for managing to carve out those precious hours!

      What’s your process for writing clients’ posts — do you find yourself hesitating less than with your own blog? Is there anything you can change around a bit? You might find that coming up with ideas and doing research ahead of time helps. I know I personally find it really daunting to sit down to work on a post if I know I need to do all the research AND write it in a single session.

  28. [ Smiles ] The part about not having enough time resonated well with me, because at times, it can be quite a challenge to keep up.

    Writing whenever you feel that inspiration helps a lot.

    And, scheduling posts for the near future lifts some of the load off your shoulders.

    Lovely post, Ali.

  29. Hi Ali, great post. Basically, I am planning to hire a content writer for my blog, but after reading your post. I thought, that I can also write good content with the help of your blog posts. Thank you so much ….

    • I bet you could write some great posts, Emma, if you give yourself a chance. 🙂 Of course there’s nothing wrong with hiring professional help — plenty of successful blogs use paid writers — but you might find it easiest to build an audience and find the “voice” of your blog while working on it yourself, to begin with.

      Glad I could be encouraging with the post — and best of luck!

  30. Hi Ali,
    Great ideas here. Thank you for sharing them. I agree with your thoughts. As far as #2–I have a “no thank you” list that has worked wonders for me. It keeps me focus on getting the important tasks completed.
    Janice Wald

  31. Tip #6 surprised me. But it is exactly what I have been doing. Wanted to wait until my viewer list grows. Your take on it makes sense; so even though no one will see it, I’ll write my best in anticipation that upcoming articles will be even better.


    • Donna, of course people will see those articles! You can link to them from your sidebar in a “Popular Posts” or similar list; you can link to them from your About page to recommend that new reader start with them; you can link to them from future posts; you can even link to them in the bio of guest posts.

      So please don’t think your posts will be lost! They may only have a small readership right away … but they could rack up tens of thousands of views in the future.

  32. Thanks Ali, this blog is gold. You’ve really inspired me to get smarter with how I write, and really take a look at my process for ways to be more efficient and more effective. I love the idea of stepping away from the keyboard and getting some perspective – planning a schedule is so valuable, and yet it’s the thing I do the least. Thanks for the personal example to make it so darn clear and actionable.

    It was also pretty validating to know I’m not the only one struggling with this right now! (Of course, but it sure is great to hear it).

    • Thanks Jodie! It’s so easy to get caught up in the thick of writing without ever taking a step back. You’re definitely not the only one struggling (and I know it’s a battle I have to fight and re-fight, myself…)

  33. Hi Ali,
    Great post. Speaking as a mother of two at the start of the long summer break, this post is essential reading for me! In fact, I’ve just realised that the last 3 posts I’ve read are all about productivity – ha!

    I love tip #7 and I am going to start doing this as of now (well, Monday morning). I never thought of batching posts like this but it sounds like a perfect way of avoiding drowning.

    Your tip on non-writing tasks is a great one too. I MUST add the 48 hour response comment to my contact page NOW!

    Brilliant. Really enjoyed reading this. Saved to Pocket to re-read and check out the links too. And will be sharing on Twitter as soon as I’ve posted this.


    • I’m only too glad to help out a fellow writing mother of two — it’s not easy, is it?! The batching works really well if you’ve got limited little slots of time to work.

      Hope you and the kids have a great summer break, too!

  34. Nice tips Ali!

    I have recently admitted to myself that I suck at efficiency.

    This post will help me be better at least LOL!! 😀

    Scrivener has been working for me in organizing everything and putting things into perspective. Didn’t expect it to be great for blogging! 🙂

    Great post and I’ll be sharing this out!

    • I think admitting it is half the battle won! I use Scrivener for my fiction-writing, and it’s a great tool. I know a lot of bloggers use it too — glad it’s working out well for you.

      Thanks for sharing, much appreciated!

  35. Hi Ali,

    This post is gold. I’m in the process of optimizing my blogging productivity and I’m sure I’ll refer back to this list. 🙂

    One thing, or tool, that has helped me immensely is Evernote. I used to keep scattered notes/reminders (e.g., writing down my schedule, reminding myself of a guest post commitment and so forth). I’d store these on my phone, random sheets of paper, in notebooks, bookmarks, or tools like OneNote. Now I store basically everything in Evernote. It’s so easy to streamline my schedule from there.

  36. Hey Ali,
    Great informative post. Social media sucks most of my time. If i only concentrate on creating blog post ideas and writing, i loose all my time in this activity without social media updates.
    Any way, great post. I follow your suggestions.
    Thank you.

  37. Great article Ali I particularly like your manual blog post planning tool. It is very importand to have an end goal in mind then you can break it down into steps which will allow you to reach where you want to go. Reverse enginer those steps, and make sure you do something each day to reach that end goal.

  38. I’ve taken on so much I feel like a pinball in a pinball machine lately. I even wrote a guest post about saying no, but still have a lot more work to do in this area!

    For me writing in blocks using the draft feature on my blog is helpful. I will come up with 20 ideas, start them all as drafts and come back to them later. This way I am never out of material. I still haven’t committed to a calendar on paper, though I do this for my clients.

    • Excuse the very slow reply, Sharon (we’ve been moving house). That’s a great way to keep ideas-in-progress ready to go.

      I’m definitely much more disciplined about planning ahead for clients than I am for myself!

  39. Hi Ali, nice to see to you here. Are you back to your editorial duties on Dailyseotips? Anywhere planning my activities on paper is something I too do. I actually use a notebook. I don’t know… but evernote and the myriad other apps don’t give me the freedom I find with a simple paper and a pen.

    The article is awesome, thanks.

    • Sorry for the slow reply, Amanda. I loved being editor of Daily Blog Tips, but sadly it was one of the things that I had to drop when baby #2 was on the way!

      After a fair while of keeping plans electronically, I’m switching to more paper-based planning again — I find it easier to get into a high-level planning state of mind when I’m away from the computer!

  40. Nice to know that every writer is facing the same problem as I do, the only difference is that Ali, you have been very dynamic and developed strategy to overcome the problems you faced and now are a beacon of sorts for all of us. Many thanks!

  41. Hi Ali,

    Great set of tips and advice I could well do with taking myself. I want to do so much but because I don’t start by setting myself a realistic timetable, in writing, it ends up with very little to nothing being done. It’s something I must start doing.

    I actually started to carry a paper and pen notepad with the intention of planning what to do and making notes of what I’d done. It’s still in my bag now – virgin white paper!

    I’ve got to start making changes. No one’s going to do it for me.


    Steven Lucas

  42. Hi Ali … I’ve just found your blog. As a new blogger myself, this is a great resource. I can see I have a lot to learn.I thank you.

  43. Hi Ali,

    Great post! I really love your batching suggestion, especially applied to drafting posts. I have never seen this suggestion anywhere before!

    I bet I could get so much more done if I drafted a bunch of posts before moving on to refining them, as opposed to doing one from start to finish. Thank you 🙂

  44. HI, Ali
    Focus on the Quality of the Result, Not the Quantity of the Writing
    Killed me. Seriously you said it the right way. 🙂

    I do like your posts because they have ‘lot’s of’ inside. Some time I die scrolling the post and comment section — Just saying.

  45. This was a really helpful post. Sometimes I feel like I have so many ideas, and no time to write them all. I’m actually having a free webinar, and I go really in depth into batch processing. The webinar is about organizing your blog. The tips mentioned here were truly helpful. My favorite was, of course, #7.
    One thing I do to write blog posts when I’m feeling overwhelmed is to write them on evernote while I’m on the go. That has truly revolutionized my blog’s poductivity.


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