Words on a Page Writings about writing

How to template repetitive writing

A woman sitting on a bench, typing

Often, a lot of what we write or blog follows a pattern. We write articles and posts that have similar structures, similar flows. What we write, at least in its structure, is repetitive.

Chances are, you want a consistent look, feel, and flow across similar articles and blog posts. An easy and effective way to do that is to template your writing.

What do I mean by that? By template I mean creating a canned structure or format for one or more types of article or blog post. You slot words into the template, and then you’re ready to go.

Let’s take a look at how to template your repetitive writing.

Stop being a draft blogger

A woman typing on a laptop

By draft blogger, I mean a blogger who starts writing posts but never finishes them. Someone who has more unfinished blog posts than they do published ones.

Until you finish writing posts, until you publish them, you can’t call yourself a blogger. You’re just practicing. You’re just pretending. You’re just going through the motions.

Draft blog posts mean nothing to you or to readers. That’s especially true when you weigh those drafts against what you’ve already published on your blog.

Being a draft blogger means you’re not serious about blogging. And unless you’re serious about blogging, no one will take you seriously as a blogger. Period.

If you have more drafts than published posts, ask yourself why. Is it because they’re not the so-called optimal length for a blog post and you’re reluctant to publish them? Is it because the ideas for those posts turned out to be not quite as good as you thought they would? Is because you have too many ideas? Or is it something else?

You have two choices: finish what you started, or delete your drafts. If you can’t finish your drafts, look at your ideas with a harsh, critical and get rid of most of them.

Do what you have to so you can clean the slate that’s your Drafts folder.

To stop being a draft blogger, you need to focus on ideas that hold your interest. You need to finish what you write. You need to press the Publish button.

Until you do that, you’re not blogging. Until you do that, no one will take you seriously as a blogger.

A few links for the end of the week

Typing in a browser's address bar

Write your drafts in a text editor

A woman typing on an Apple keyboard

I know too many writers and bloggers who don’t seem to be able to start writing. Or, they just can’t finish what they start (more about this in a future post).

Part of that has to do with them being stared down by the demon of perfectionism. But many of them are also concerned with other, less important aspects of writing and blogging. As they try to write, they think too heavily about keywords, about images, about formatting, about SEO. And more.

All of that shifts their attention away from writing. All of that overwhelms them and they don’t finish what they’ve started.

As I always say, the most important part of writing or blogging is the actual writing. And, by extension, finishing that writing. Nothing else matters.

My advice to anyone who’s in the situation I just described is simple: write your drafts in a text editor.

Why? A text editor offers few, if any, distractions. There are no templates, no formatting, no images. It’s just you and your words.

When writing with a text editor, you’re writing in plain text. Simple, vanilla, and, you can argue, boring. Plain text isn’t flexible or bloated. It lets you write using any device or operating system without worrying about fonts or corrupted files.

Most of all, a text editor offers focus. A single, blank canvas that’s waiting for you to fill it with words.

The next time you’re having trouble writing anything — whether it’s an article, a blog post, a chapter of a book, or a story — try writing your first draft in a text editor. Doing that might just help you reach done.

The case for the minimal blog

A road sign with the word 'Blog' on it

Far too many blogs, even ones that I enjoy and regularly read, can be difficult to read. No, I’m not talking about the writing on those blogs.

What I’m talking about is blogs that have too many elements on the page. The text is either too small or it’s crammed into a narrow column. On top of that, thanks to the number of ads and scripts and images and the like, those blogs are slow to load even on a fast internet connection.

All of that does nothing for readers. I’d argue that it does little or nothing for the bloggers and their blogs, too.

Instead of subjecting your readers to an over abundance of design (or what you think is good design), why not go minimal with your blog instead?