It matters not if you are writing an essay, learning a language, penning the latest bestseller, or updating your blog, but writing of all things requires discipline. Still, it seems that many people have no clue what discipline really means. It is not only a word used to describe hard-working people; usually, hard-working people are considered disciplined or, using another words, they are also diligent. Now I digress, because language is a tricky affair. Even before this paragraph is over, I have already lost my focus. Two words, which have two different meanings, have distracted me.
The subject at hand is, of course, discipline, because with discipline, diligence comes automatically. Focus means to be able to choose a theme and stick to it, at all costs. In that sense, focus is the same as discipline. This is a concept seemingly foreign to many writers. Bloggers, or any type of online content creators — I include myself — fall into the same trap of wanting to be hip and immediate in their writing. Let me tell you that it is a false perception to assume everyone has a short attention span.
If the content is good, compelling, and flows nicely, everyone will pay attention. People not reading long articles is not matter of disinterest or lack of concentration, but rather a matter of simple distraction. If there is something more interesting catching their attention, would anyone continue reading your blog?
Focus is also the ability to always stay on topic. The greatest writers never digress, even if they are using metaphors to elaborate on the main subject. While it is easy to weave in a metaphor, it can be hard to quickly get back on track. This is the point where a visitor of your blog continues to read or not. Listen to TED talks, for instance. These speeches are never longer than 15 minutes, yet they manage to deliver each and every bit of necessary information so that the viewer gets an overview of the given subject.
A blog post should be similar in principle. The execution must be somewhat different though, since we are comparing two different mediums. Delivering text in speech is completely different from doing the same in writing. When you speak, you have at your disposal the whole spectrum of human emotions and physical expressions. All these enhance whatever story you are telling, or subject you are tackling.
Just using words robs the writer of all the intricacies of human emotions. This is how a great writer can be distinguished from a mediocre writer. It is not the knowledge of grammar, orthography, or vocabulary that makes the difference. Some of the greatest texts and poems use a rather simple set of words. Beyond the complexity of the language, though, it is the execution that counts. A word is just a word, with a meaning that you can check in a dictionary. In truth, it means nothing. A word is simply the name of an object or action. Now add human character to the equation, and the result is a fascinating formula.
Having the Discipline to Focus
This article is about one element in the process of creating great content. Blogs exists online like uncountable grains of sand on a beach. Only very few manage to gain a following that goes beyond friends and relatives. Is this something magical? Not at all, I am afraid. On one hand, it is calculated by observing statistics and approaching the strategy scientifically; on the other hand, it is very much dependent on skill and will. Even for me it is sometimes hard to stay focused. By this I do not mean that I lose concentration. Suddenly something new pops into my mind, and soon thereafter my text loses its straight line. You do not want your text to meander along like a snake, but rather be a river that runs straight as a candle. It needs to guide the reader safely from the first word to the last.
Setting goals and following plans: this is the essence of succeeding with your blog. In other words, it will be a struggle, of course. Just make it a struggle with yourself and not with the expectations of others.
People will not come back for you. They will return if they believe what you believe, and what you believe must, of course, be consistent. This requires focus again. You must focus on your subject, on your style, on your own perspective, on your dreams, and all this must come together as one. The singular entity you strive to produce is your daily, weekly, or even hourly blog post.
If I can pass on any wisdom from my experiences, then it would this: Try to set a specific time of the day for writing; it will help you get into the routine of doing just that. The more of a routine you have, the easier it will be to sit down and write on command.
In a previous article, I already made the statement that creativity is a state of mind. Writing is also a state of mind, though it’s different from the mood you have when watching your favorite football team win. In opposition to what many may think, writing is not, in itself, creative. It can be a fun activity, but it is, quite simply put, work. The fun comes from what goes in your head as you go on to describe whatever feeling it is you would like to share.
I guess a good rule of thumb would be to ask yourself what the reader should learn by the end of your post. In many cases it will an opinion or a message that you want to became clear at the end. Everything in the text — every single word — should be a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that the reader is assembling. Never give away all the clues at the beginning. Storytelling is a good way to avoid revealing yourself in too obvious of a manner.
Going the Distance
Have you ever had the feeling where you know there is something to be said, but your head is tired and you cannot find the right words? This happens to me all the time, and it always occurs in the last few hundred words of an article. It is really frustrating to keep focus. While your mind already wanders off to something more exciting, you just keep fighting your conscience over the feeling that the text is unfinished.
When I have such a block, I usually go back to the beginning. Either I go on to fill out the first paragraphs with more details, or I refresh my mind about what I have written. If you write many hundreds of words, sometimes you forget what your opinion is by the time you get to the second page. This is real test to determine if you are actually focused. Other times you must just force your mind to carry on. It is a wonderful feeling when you finally finish.
The purpose should never be to achieve fame in the blogosphere, but always to convey your honest feelings and opinions. It is logical to understand how people always know the difference between sincere and fake opinions. Focus also leads to reputation, which is elemental in the process of making yourself a name online.
Toward the end of a post, it is crucial not to let one’s thoughts wander off. The very last sentence can make all the difference. It is in the final words that the true message emerges. Since boredom creeps up very early, if someone reads your blog post until the end, it is a good sign. So when you are finishing off your post, make sure the last paragraph counts. After reading those final sentences, a reader will determine if future posts might be of any interest.
Focus: Decide on a subject and stick to it. Do not start writing about the meaning of life, when you end up writing about the meaning of love. Confusion is not a good way to gain followers.
Consistency: Start building a brand. With each blog post, you are shaping the personality that will represent you online. People will look out for your name in the future.
Coffee: You will need a lot of mental strength to keep focused and keep practicing. So drink coffee or any other drink that helps you keep your mental stamina up.