Fifty Minute Blog Posts

It’s a mad dash, but I love my frantic writing sprints.

To improve my writing, I’ve set a weekly goal of shipping five blog posts. To reach that goal, I’m doing 50-minute blog post writing sessions.

It gives me enough time to write a small draft, edit it, and ship it. Keeping each post small is the key to hitting my goal and improving.

Processing my learning

The blog post isn’t entirely from scratch. There’s a lot of work done outside those 50 minutes.

Like a chef, I’ve been collecting ingredients and stocking my pantry. I consume interesting ideas from books, podcasts, and blog posts in my free time. I’m having conversations with coworkers and friends. I’m taking notes and writing down things that resonate with me.

When I sit down to write, I filter those ideas through my own point of view. I combine them with other ideas and create something new. Writing helps me solidify these ideas for myself and others.

Practice shipping

I call my drafts folder my blog post graveyard. I have far more drafts than published pieces. I can start projects quickly enough, but I struggle to get them out the door.

I tend to bloat projects until they’re too large to get off the ground. I always want to do the ultimate version of something. I dream big about an idea but run out of steam after a few days.

50-minute blog posts force me out of that habit. Scope creep can’t survive an immediate deadline.

I also have a habit of starting small but feeling the need for each blog post to be better than the last. This eventually results in similar scope creep and my routine falling apart.

When I practice shipping anything, I get better at shipping everything.

Atomic ideas

Each tiny blog post is a single idea. Later I can glue a bunch together and make something more extensive. Like Voltron, they might assemble into a video, a PDF, or a larger blog post.

It’ll be easier because of all the work I published before. I imagine writing a single chapter is easier than an entire book. Even easier to assemble a book of prewritten chapters.

Success is unpredictable

But wouldn’t one ✨high-quality✨ blog post be more successful than five that I only spent an hour on?

Not necessarily. You don’t know how well something will perform while you’re making it.

Fittingly, the Chris Coyier blog post I quote the most is also one of his shortest. Coyier’s Law states:

The effort-to-engagement ratio for content is unguessable.

Anyone who creates content knows this to be true. You’ve put countless hours into something only for it to land with a whisper. Later you rattle off a joke Tweet, and suddenly you have everyone’s attention.

Don’t stick with your first idea

Linus Pauling said, “The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas and throw the bad ones away.”

I don’t know which ideas will resonate with other people, so I’m putting a lot of them out there.

It’s like playing Battleship. The only way to find what you’re looking for is to start shooting. It doesn’t matter if you miss ten shots in a row. With persistence, you’re bound to hit on something.

Putting in the work

The most impactful thing I can do to become a better writer is to write a lot.

Everything else will come as a byproduct of that work. I’ll find my voice through the work. I’ll find interesting things to say as I put in the work. I’ll attract the people I want to talk to by putting my work out there.

From what I can tell, there’s no shortcut. It’s a long and tiresome road, but at least I know it’ll take me in the right direction.