Grow without the impending stress that comes with the job
When I was a newbie, I would look at these surreal writers who would just spit — and there’s a story! It doesn’t stop there. They have these million other things running parallel. Smoothly.
Whaaa…my mind would go bonkers. What did their mothers eat that mine missed?
Because there I was, not able to squeeze out even a 500-word story from my constipated mind. Will I ever reach there? Is this (writing) for me? Is it possible?
Yes. I will not say it’s cakewalk-ish easy, but with proper planning and some help, it is.
A definite yes.
When I started my writing journey, I was only publishing stories on Medium. That’s it. Slowly, I went on to make digital products. [Things looking okay]
Moving on, I decided I should write a book. [I can fit in some time] I should network with people. Enter LinkedIn. [How tough can it be] And then consultancy…because people started mailing. [Can’t let go of the opportunity!!] And the newsletter? Don’t forget the online course…
Before long, I was huffing & puffing, in a frenzy, lagging behind, with nothing in control, & everything falling apart— a complete mess.
I took a break. Ditched writing. To hell with this.
Two days later, I came back with a system — the one I still follow. Not fail-proof on all days, but it does the job.
What is about to follow might be lengthy to consume, but they have saved me a lot of time so that I could scale up my operation. And they can do the same for you too.
1. Always keep the idea kit flowing
Never arrive empty-handed to the (writing) party. Many writers/creators lose precious time thinking about what to write.
You MUST always have a brimming list of ideas to write about. You read a story, watched a Netflix series, saw a YT Shorts, and a thought came — grab it with both hands and keep it.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Compartmentalize your ideas. If you write for different platforms/projects, sort them accordingly. For me, they are arranged as — Medium, Writing, Headline, Headline-book, LinkedIn, and Gumroad.
- So, when you start with something, go to that file/folder/list and pick an idea to work on.
- NEVER write a sentence for an idea. Flesh it up with a few words that complete the thought. You don’t want to keep scratching your head, thinking, what did I mean by this? It need not be complete sentences; just words would do.
2. Time your time
Keep track of it.
I was going terribly wrong here, initially. Since I had no planning, I would do whatever felt important. But, when you have to work on multiple projects, you cannot work without losing control over things.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Allot time for the projects that you have earmarked for the day. Say, I have an hour to work on Medium today. So, I set my timer and start working. Once, it is up, I take a small break (water or tea) and start the next.
- Yes, you may give yourself small leeways if it is near completion. But do not over-extend. Coz things start to pile on the other side.
- I have found this helpful because all my projects move ahead simultaneously, and I am not anxious at the end of the day.
- And follow the ONE-TAB rule. One work at one time. Avoid distractions (like you avoided crowds during Covid).
Timing my work is like adding a dash of urgency to an otherwise dull task — it’s like giving it a shot of espresso!
3. Templatize your work
This will save you oodles of time, my friend. I wish I had done this earlier.
A template is a format you repeatedly use for different topics. For example, the headline template of this story is
[N] ways to [do something] without [the tough part]
The same template I can use for another headline.
7 Ways To Put Savings On Autopilot Without Any Last-Minute Stress
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Have templates for all the types of projects that you do. It can be a headline, a blog, a post, or a carousel (that I make on Canva). Starting midway is always better than starting from scratch, eh?
- The more templates you have, the less time you need to complete a project. And start doing more things.
- And again, segregate them according to work. Compartmentalize. It saves you hunting time. And your headline templates aren’t found snacking with your LinkedIn templates.
4. Overnight marination
Not just for my cooking, I also do this for my writing. The night before is a time I sit with my notepad and visualize the next day — to the t. Right from what to pack for my daughter’s lunch to which chapter of the book do I write.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Plan your day before you start it. That way, you don’t lose time contemplating what to do.
- Remember to tick things off the list (as you pat your back) in the night and also reassess whether you need to tweak your plans for the next day.
- Be pragmatic when you plan, and do not panic if things go awry. Things happen. Be nimble and design the forthcoming days — those that you have more control over.
5. Repurpose. Repurpose. Repurpose
Just like templates, a writer falls in love with repurposing very soon. I have. This came in handy when I started networking on LinkedIn, and writing for both platforms, which are diverse in nature, became a real challenge.
So, I used my content topics from Medium and repurposed them to LinkedIn posts.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Take a piece of content and customize it for other platforms — a Medium story to a series of LinkedIn posts, a Twitter tweet/thread, or a YouTube video.
- It is advisable to save the links of posts/threads that have done really well and save them for a rainy day (when writing a post is a challenge) or schedule it for a later date to maintain consistency.
6. The right tools
Oh yes, you need them. Not a lot of them, but some for sure. Depending on your need and the nature of the work, having the right tools will speed up your process and enable you to focus more on writing and less on the technical aspects. Some tools that I use:
- Google: But, of course! An indispensable tool for the trade that takes up a major chunk of the work.
- Google Docs: For real-time collaboration with my writing and consultancy clients.
- Grammarly: For the editing part. It has been a great tool that also boosts my writing confidence.
- Canva: Takes care of all media stuff.
- Reedsy: For my book writing projects.
- Effie: It is a great tool that gives me a distraction-free place to work.
- Ahrefs: For the SEO part of the writing.
7. Play the right mind game
Any work, especially creative ones, has a lot to do with the soft, spongy grey guy up there — Mr. Mind. Be mindful if you intend to play the long game.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Sever the thinking chord. Overthinking something has ensured one thing — NOTHING. Focus on the ‘doing’ part, however shitty that may look.
Actions will lead to results; thinking will lead to future regrets.
- Don’t give yourself too much choice space. Guilty. I gave myself too many choices. That’s when things went berserk. Don’t think; don’t give choices. Decide and then start working. See that you finish the job — no choice of ditching it.
- But what you can ditch is perfection. No.One.Is.Perfect. Why should you be? And you will never be. So, drop the act and start already!
- Accept your realities & set expectations accordingly. You know what is possible for you and what is not. One can wish for so many things, but then reality is a bitch. So, take a step back, assess, and set your expectations accordingly. And be happy about it.
- Breathe. Love your engine and machine. You cannot function non-stop. Recharge. Yes, I am talking about mindfulness and exercise, you dumbo. And yes, this makes it to the list and should be on the top if you ask me.
I will keep this short because I have said it all already. (And also that the read time is going north!)
Being a solopreneur can be challenging at times and test you to the limits. The key is to breathe and bring more discipline and control into it.
My father says:
When you feel suffocated with too many problems around you, wriggle out of the mess and stand at some distance.
Look at the tangle like it doesn’t belong to you.
Segregate them, & lay them neatly in a line. Then start working out small solutions for each one.
Simple — segregate and solve.