Lately I’ve been getting into this great habit of writing headlines. That’s right—just headlines, nothing else. Of course, I also write one article per day for my blog this month as well but the headlines help a lot.
This is post 12/30 of #30daysofcreativity.
You see, I read this article a couple of weeks ago on FreelanceFolder, titled “7 Ways To Kick-Start Your Blogging Habit” (great post, read it). We all love these list posts, they’re highly addictive, and this particular one is actually pretty relevant to my #30daysofcreativity challenge of writing every day.
What the article says is that it’s can be a good idea to sit down for a half-hour or so and just write headlines. Anything that comes to mind will do and they don’t have to be all catchy. Just write headlines.
The thing is, you’re not always in a productive enough mood to write an entire article—at least not a very good one—but if you pump out a bunch of headlines, you’ll have a lot of subjects to choose from when you’re in your more productive mood.
I’ve adapted my own version of this method that in my opinion is a lot more time-efficient. It just doesn’t make much sense to me to sit down and write anything at all if I’m not in the mood for it. It makes sense to spend that time doing what I actually feel like doing, whatever that may be.
So I have a “project” in my GTD application OmniFocus which is called “Headlines”. For those not familiar with the GTD concept, a project is basically a list of actions or ideas. This “Headlines” project is located in my “Someday/Maybe” project folder since, well, I may be using them someday.
Whenever I come across something interesting that I’d like to write about sometime, I simply stick it into my “Headlines” project with a reference URL or some other information I can use to remember my chain of thought. It takes a few seconds to gather this information and then I can go back to what I was doing.
Once I decide to sit down to write an article or two, I just look at my list of headlines. There’s never a need to come up with a subject to write about, and that saves a whole lot of time. Imagine just sitting down, picking a subject and start writing right away. That’s what I do.
The reason why this works out particularly well for me is that I read a lot of blogs, tweets and forum threads every day and I often come across interesting subjects which give me spontaneous ideas about things I could write, or sometimes feel like I need to write. Having a system for gathering and processing those ideas is invaluable.
Doing It Yourself
While I highly suggest you do use a GTD system since it’s designed for gathering and processing information, it’s not at all necessary. You can use post-its, Google Docs, a notebook—whatever works for you.
Finally, just make sure you think it through. What about when you’re out of the office or away from home? You can still get ideas once in a while. OmniFocus which I use is available for both iPhone and Mac OS, which means I either have it in front of me or in my pocket wherever I am.
It’s a bit expensive though but there are a lot of options you can use. Things is one, ActionMethod is another, Google Docs a third, iCal todo a fourth, and so on. Last but definitely not least, a pocket-sized Moleskine notebook is a recommended traditional method that has proven to work very well.