My marathon medal from the Dublin City Marathon 2011
What do running a marathon and writing content for a website have in common?
Both of them seem hard at the outset. Both take a commitment. Both can be rewarding in many ways.
All my life I watched marathons in wonder. How could anybody run that sort of distance? What does it take to keep going when every fibre in your body wants to quit?
The first step (if you’ll pardon the pun) is simply getting started. 8 weeks before the marathon I started training. I used a couch to 5k app on my iphone. 3 days a week it was time to run and out I went no matter what the weather and did it. No excuses, no “I don’t feel like it today”, no “I have too many other things to do today”.
Writing content for the internet is the same. It is very easy to put off that blog post or writing that article. There are always other pressing issues that can help you avoid the first simple step of writing that first sentence.
The first day I ran, I completed 8 runs that were just 1 minute in duration with breaks of 1 1/2 minutes in between. I felt like I was going to collapse at the end of it. 8 weeks later I was running 5k without stopping. It got easier. It only got easier because I went out and did it every week on schedule.
Similarly, with content writing, what takes ages at first becomes second nature. It gets easier. Practice, practice practice. When I run I set myself achievable goals. I wasn’t worried about not being the fastest person to ever run 5k (in fact I’m very slow). I don’t have to be quick to be faster than all those people who never made it off the couch. There will always be somebody fitter than me, but I have more energy and more drive as a result of exercising than I did when I was happy to sit behind my computer all day and in front of the tv all evening. My mind feels sharper and I have even become more confident.
Ah yes, confidence. Confidence comes with practice. The more I write the happier I am with what I write. I don’t have to second guess it all the time.
How did I go from 5k to running a marathon?
Well, that bit was not really advisable. I just did it. I didn’t run the whole marathon. In fact it took me 6 hours to complete the course. As I said afterwards “the last 20 miles were the hardest”. But I did it. I didn’t quit. I hurt, I even bled, but I kept at it. The result – I achieved my goal. I have the medal to prove it. It will not be my last marathon either. I will continue to practice and it will continue to get easier.
Running is about putting one foot in front of the other and repeating the process. Content writing is about putting one word after another (preferably in a sentence that makes sense).
No more excuses.
- I’m too tired
- It’s too wet / windy / cold / snowy / hot out today
- I don’t want to overdo it and injure myself
- I’ll start next week
- It will take me ages to run 5k
- I’m too busy today
- I need to concentrate on work / home life / my favourite tv programme
- I’m too old
- I’m too overweight
- I don’t want people to see me running
- What would I get out of it anyway?
Content writing excuses:
- I don’t feel inspired today
- I don’t know what to write about
- My writing isn’t good enough
- I have too many other things to do today
- I’ll start tomorrow
- Somebody else already wrote about the same thing I was going to write about
- It will take me ages to write a blog / article
- What good is one piece of writing going to do?
Excuses. That is all they are. They are tricks you allow your mind play on you to prevent you from doing something that will really benefit you. I’m not saying that everybody should go and do a marathon. I am saying that everybody who owns or works on a website should write fresh content for it regularly.
We all put things off. Why? When it comes to websites the old adage “Content is King” is sometimes forgotten. If you are not the greatest writer on the planet don’t let that stop you. You will never get any better if you don’t actually practice.
If you have a busy schedule, then make the time. Make it a priority. If you don’t know what to write just start writing and see what happens, or take inspiration from somewhere else.
Oh, and the excuse that went “Somebody else already wrote about the same thing I was going to write about”…… have a look at this blog post that @copyblogger tweeted about just a few minutes before I wrote this post. It’s probably better written than what I’ve just written, it’s drawing the same comparisons. I choose to call it inspiration. If I hadn’t pointed out that I got the idea from somebody else, then you would never have known.
The point is that it is ok to use what other people write about as a basis for your own writing. Another day perhaps Jeff Goins will use something I write as inspiration for one of his posts. Professional writers do that. If a newspaper gets a scoop you can be sure that the next day the other papers will cary a version of the same story.
It’s time to start writing!
Even if it feels like a marathon task that may suck the will to live out of you just do it. Get started. It will get easier…. I promise!