Bloggers block? Use an editorial calendar to reduce writing anxiety

 

writing-anxiety

Today we have Tamara Grand from FitNitChick.com as our guest blogger.

I’m an organizer by nature. I plan and schedule my workouts three weeks in advance. I use a computer-generated grocery list (arranged according to the route I take through the store) to keep my fridge stocked with healthy foods. I schedule haircuts and doctor and dental appointments before leaving the salon or office. My kids’ summer camps were booked in February. Christmas shopping is finished before December even arrives.

Yet despite my innate tendencies to schedule and plan and write things on the calendar, until recently, I was blogging ‘by the seat of my pants’.

Waking up in the morning wondering what I was going to write about that day. A workout? A recipe? Something that had happened recently at the gym? Sometimes the ideas came easily, other days, nothing.

A few weeks ago, a Facebook status update caught my eye (apologies for being unable to remember who’s post I read and on what date I read it; if it was you, please comment below and take credit). It was about creating an editorial calendar for your blog.

An editorial calendar for my blog? Could this be the solution to my writing challenges?

I immediately printed out blank calendar templates for May, June, July and August (you can find them by Googling ‘blank calendar templates’). I highlighted the days of the week that I aim to publish new content (Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays) and started filling them up with post ideas.

Tuesdays were easy; I always contribute to Tuesday Trainer. Mondays are typically motivation-type posts, although I sometimes write about my family’s weekend activities or a ‘cleaned up’ recipe I tried. Fridays are often sponsored posts or product reviews.

I then checked with my kitchen calendar to see if there were any ‘special’ days coming up; National Egg Day, National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month for example. I chose a few that were relevant to my blog’s theme (exercise, healthy eating, knitting) and added them to my editorial calendar.

After only an hour of brainstorming, I had filled up all my scheduled blog post dates and still had ideas for more! In addition to freeing me from ‘blogger’s block’, creating an editorial calendar has resulted in some unexpected benefits;

• I can make sure that different types of posts (workouts, recipes, product reviews) are evenly spaced out over time

• I’ll never miss another seasonal writing opportunity again

• “Weekly features” will truly become weekly features (as opposed to ‘when I remember’ features)

• I can easily see when I’ll need a ‘scheduled in advance’ or guest post over the holidays

• I feel less stressed about my weekly writing commitments

• Each blog topic that I’ve added to my calendar serves as a writing prompt. I respond well to such tools!

Already, I’ve noticed that I’m spending less time blogging and more time interacting with my readers and the other bloggers that I follow. And for me, engagement and feeling a sense of community are two of the main things that keeps me blogging!

Do you use a blog editorial calendar to plan your blog content?

I love to hear how others have overcome writing challenges. Please share your tips and tricks with me!

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • http://dareyouto.blogspot.com Meredith

    I don’t use a calendar for blogging — but I should!!! Fantastic idea. I’ve long planned to take a full day or 2 to sit down and get all my drafts, ideas, sources, etc. in order and then to make a roll-out plan, but I love how your approach really allows for flexibility yet sets an outline for what’s to come. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://fitknitchick.com Tamara

      Meredith,
      I’ve already deviated from it twice! Sometimes something just comes up that you HAVE to write about! Even still, knowing what my writing assignments are for the week makes it way easier to get them done!

  • http://evelynparham.com Evelyn Parham

    Hi Tamara!

    Thank you for your guest post!

    You wrote this post just for me. I’m a big procrastinator and I need not be. I will do better, thanks to your tips.

    You encouraged and motivated me to do an editorial calendar and I will also do a calendar for my You Tube channels. I really need to do this. I am working on my calendars this weekend. ;)

    Thanks again!

    • http://fitknitchick.com Tamara

      Ooh, extending it to your YouTube channel is a great idea! I need to be less haphazard with YouTube (whether I tape or not depends on whether I’ve washed my hair!)

      • http://evelynparham.com Evelyn Parham

        Hey Tamara!

        You’re too funny about the hair thingy. I totally understand that! Gotta look good. :)

  • http://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com August McLaughlin

    Great post and concept, Tamara! I don’t use a schedule with my blog, but I do aim for two posts each week. My writing life is so full of deadlines, it’s nice to have some leeway in blog-land. ;) I imagine an editorial calendar—which sounds way more professional than “schedule”—could help many. Off to pass this on. Thanks!

    • http://fitknitchick.com Tamara

      I guess this only applies to us part time writers! Ha, ha! Can’t imagine what it’s like to have heavy writing deadlines!
      Thanks for your shares August.

  • http://funandfit.org KymberlyFunFit

    My sister and I semi-sorta use an editorial calendar as we have so many ideas that we have to schedule them so we don’t lose track. I am going to make a note on my calendar to list you as the most organized person I know. Holy planners girl! http://funandfit.org/

    • http://fitknitchick.com Tamara

      Want to see my grocery list?
      I should do a post on it; very helpful way to stay organized and away from temptation! (Going to put this topic on my editorial calendar right away!).

  • Johnny

    Having an editorial calendar is a great idea, both because it helps reduce stress and because it allows you to get a nice consistent posting pattern! It’s also great for budgeting your time and avoiding rushed last minute posts.

    • http://fitknitchick.com Tamara

      Exactly!
      Now I never have that late at night anxiety about what I’ll be posting the next day (I also use the auto scheduler so that I don’t have to post manually in the wee hours…)