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How to create a *decent* blog post in *just over* an hour

Here we go! The clock is ticking. Earnest Hemingway once said “write drunk, edit sober,” and while we simply don’t have time to fact check the veracity of that quote, we think it’s relevant to this exercise, which is essentially the “drunk” part of Hemingway’s process. So, drink it in! Let’s gulp down some pronouns and adjectives.

It’s important when setting out on a writing project to clearly understand the subject so you can state it as quickly as possible to the reader. The first two words of the title, “how to” give us a lot to go on, we’re telling the reader that they’re going to read a guide—a methodology—which provides us and them a helpful bit of structure. Where else to begin than the beginning, no?

Step one: write a catchy headline

Sh*t, ok, we kind of knew this would happen, we knew we would get meta. On second thought, it’s not always a good idea to start with a headline, but in the case of this very article, we did start with the headline. Another way to state this step is to start with an objective. The objective could be a question you want to answer, an idea you want to explore, an argument you want to make, a story you want to tell, and so on. In this case, our objective is twofold: we want to have a little fun (i.e. entertain our readers, which we realize is a bit of a stretch), and we want to provide our readers with a simple guide for creating content, because there aren’t enough of those on the internet.

Step two: start writing and see what happens 

Admittedly, we’re currently immersed in step two, pounding away at the keyboard in hopes that the words appearing on the screen will take us where we need to go. And this is incredibly important, perhaps, the most important part of this post about writing posts, which is to just get on with it. We’re not going to quote Nike, but you know damn well we could. There is some famous article somewhere about how creativity should be scheduled, and again, not enough time to source it, but the gist of it is, do not sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Do not think that creativity is just going to sneak up and bite you in the ass. It’s just not. There are a lot of different ways to stoke creativity, numerous techniques for getting yourself primed for ideas or productivity, but writing is an inherently physical act. It requires one to sit (or stand if you’re into that whole thing) still for long enough to allow your brain to connect with your hands (forgive the ableism, we are aware that there are other methods of writing) and convert thoughts to action. That requires effort, labor, and energy. So get to it, don’t wait around, just sit down and start doing the damn thing, you will be surprised at how many words you can write in fifteen minutes (that’s how long it's taken me to get this far, FYI). 

Step three: take an hour off because you have to go do something else and then come back

Ok, phew, that was a close one, we almost got sucked down a rabbit hole of doing actual client work. But that's okay! This is a teachable moment. Part of any good creative process is stepping away from the work and returning to it with fresh eyes. In Step Two, we talked about ways to kickstart creativity, i.e. sitting-the-f-down and writing. But what happens when you hit a wall? What if you’re not sure where the piece should go next? Get up and move around. Go for a walk. Call someone that inspires you and have a good conversation. Maybe get their advice, or maybe just shoot the breeze with them and get energized. Sometimes just moving your lips and saying words is a good way to get the mind primed to sit back down and continue writing. Maybe you’re reading this and saying, “but you said ‘how to create a decent blog post in one hour’ not ‘how to create a blog post in one hour with breaks!’” First of all, chill. Second of all, fair, we’re just including the “creating” time, not the time spent pacing around thinking about what we’re going to write, or pausing to stare out into the distance, we’re talking about the time actually spent typing, editing, designing (yes, that’s part of the hour), and posting. 

How do you feel? If you’ve written this much already, then you’re doing great! It's been about 20 minutes and you’ve produced a little over 800 words—nothing to shake a stick at. That said, there’s an old joke among journalists where an editor tells them to write a piece short-form on a quick deadline and they say “but I don’t have time to write it that short!” Which is to say, for experienced writers, it’s much easier to vomit a bunch of platitudes and filler onto the page (something we would never do), and much more difficult to say something truly meaningful, unique and provocative in as few moves as possible. And to that we say, move on to step four. 

Step four: edit sober 

Congratulations. You’ve crossed a milestone, you’ve completed a draft. Well, you have, we haven’t. Yes, we’ve left enough time in the hour to go back and clean up some of the glaring mistakes we’ve made. For the purpose of the post, we’re leaving things a bit raw so you can get the vibe of the process. Admittedly, this has been a joy to write. There is something satisfying about setting a challenge for yourself and completing it. The journey is the destination and all that jazz. And therein lies yet another lesson: when you write about something you enjoy, something you’re interested in, the creative process is no longer a chore. Editing doesn’t have to be either. Think of it like that scene in Good Will Hunting when the professor and his protege are laughing and crossing out the numbers and letters as they balance their little equation. Though probably the least accurate depiction of graduate-level mathematics, the point is that editing is the process of finally realizing the essence of your piece, or the distillation of your idea. It’s the most direct way to your reader’s heart. Think of yourself as an archeologist, scraping away the dirt and grime to find the precious artifact. Once this step is complete, and it may take several passes by yourself and others, it's time to tie it in a bow.

Step five: design and post  

If you work for a small outfit, then you are probably the writer and the designer as well as the social media manager and webmaster and you can just move right into this. If not, and you’re trying to really jam this into an hour, don’t forget to leave time for your team to format the copy into your blog post style, and if you’re like us and you’re going to post a snippet to other platforms, prepare a caption and post copy. Will there be visuals? Prepare a brief and blast it out. Will there be links? Collect them and embed them. Once posted, take a breath and pat yourself on the back. Congratulations, you did your job.

Step six: rinse and repeat 

Wait, you mean we have to do this again? Well, you might not have to, but we do! And if you’re reading this and you’re thinking well, these folks are clever, I like the cut of their jib, then you can get in touch and we can discuss if we’re a good fit to help your team with ongoing copy needs before the AI’s get even better than they are now and take our jobs.

About the Author: Ben Greenberg does business development, creative direction, copywriting, research, and strategy for BS LLC. When he’s not wearing so many hats, he’s attempting to comb his disheveled hair that has suffered beneath so many hats for so long.