How to be Your Own Blog Post Fairy

I don’t know if there really is a blog post fairy, but there should be. Creating fresh, quality content on a routine basis is a downright daunting task, and life would be sweet if some sparkly-winged creature wafted into the room, waved a magic wand, and provided an easy solution to the challenge.

Unfortunately, the blog post fairy hasn’t been spotted hovering over the laptops of any of the bloggers I’ve talked with lately. That’s okay though because even without a magic wand, we can still create a spitload of content in a flash.

The secret?

Prewriting.

Prewriting blog posts gives us the power to build up a tidy reserve of drafts that just need some prettying and polishing before we hit ‘Publish.’

Here’s how it’s done:

Schedule it. Set aside time each week exclusively for prewriting. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll likely crank out post drafts in 15 minutes or less, but plan on double that your first time out of the gate.

Be prepared. If you keep a running list of post ideas or use an editorial calendar as part of an overall content strategy, bring these tools with you to your session. No tools or ideas? No problem. Think of a few solutions for your readers’ common problems and challenges, and use these as foundations for your posts.

Think. When I sit down to prewrite, I spend a moment or two pondering the main point I want to make and deciding which format (pillar, list, etc.) will work best to convey that information.

Write the headline. The writing process begins by drafting a working headline to define the main idea of the post. Don’t worry about making it pretty or catchy. For example, the prewritten headline for this post was, “How to Prewrite Blog Posts.” Alright, you can stop that snickering now :)

Create a crappy intro. Trying to craft an enticing lead eats up time, so don’t even go there. Just throw down a few rough and tumble sentences to illustrate the point of your post, such as a personal anecdote or how the situation affects readers.

Jot down subpoints. Using your headline as a guide, brainstorm a few subpoints to deliver on the promises it makes. In the case of this post, I knew I needed to demonstrate how to prewrite posts, so I outlined the steps in my draft.

Flesh it out. Writing quickly and without concern for pesky details like proper grammar or punctuation, flesh out each subpoint with a couple descriptive sentences. If you think of any quotes, research, etc., that will add substance to your final post, make a note of it by the appropriate point.

Wrap it up. Dash off a quick conclusion by sharing any final thoughts you’d like to convey or by adding a sentence or two about how the information you’ve provided has worked to benefit you or others.

Granted, these prewritten drafts won’t win any blog post beauty contests, but they’ve got great bones and a solid shape. Stack up enough of them and you’ll realize you really are your own blog post fairy.

Just remember to take off those sparkly wings before you leave the house!

Your turn: Do you prewrite your posts? Have you spotted the blog post fairy lately?

Related Post: 57 Smokin’ Tips to Thaw Blogging Brain Freeze

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66 Responses to How to be Your Own Blog Post Fairy

  1. Katie Tallo July 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Great pointers for writing of all kinds, Jean. I pre-write to a certain degree. I definitely write crappy intros and work on them later. But, I find there’s so much to do in the running of a blog that I’m not really ever three or four posts ahead. I feel more like I’m one step ahead, then suddenly sixty-eight steps behind. So, when I get overwhelmed, I just focus on one post. Then the next.

  2. Kaizenvision July 6, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Jean, I love your Blog Post Fairy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    My blog post fairy appears when I'm sitting on the sand at the beach and almost anytime when I'm not in a position to write. She's gone when I sit in front of a computer to write. I've learned to take small notebooks with me no matter where I go.
    I pre-sketch posts, I would like to have polished ones ready to go and I'm working on that level of discipline.

    Thank you for another fun & fabulous post.

  3. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    Now if I could just get the chocolate fairy to drop by . . . :)

    I sometimes will do my prewriting in the park or at the coffee shop because the drafting seems to go even easier when I'm out of what feels like a 'work environment.' I'm still working on getting ahead in the polished post department too. Haven't quite got that one down yet :)

  4. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Crappy intros rule :) My rough drafts are scary looking overall, but a person has to start somewhere. I'm doing well with having a lot of drafts ready, but like I mentioned to Aileen up above, I'm not there with having a stack of polished pieces ready. That's on next week's agenda. Haha.

  5. rob white July 6, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    So true, that Blog Post Fairy can take forever to come by sometimes. Sometimes I experience many stops and starts while trying to write the next post. If I relax and take a walk around the Pond that fairy will show up eventually. Personally, I do not plan ahead but write them one at a time. There is an infinite intelligence we all have access to when we get out of the way. The steps above all help awaken to that inspiration. Once we do that, the rest is just the scientific process of writing (which isn't quite as much fun.) :)

  6. Manal July 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Darn no post fairy. I was hoping to find the ever elusive post fairy. You offer great advice Jean. I do pre-write some posts. Once a rough draft is there, it gets easier to edit and finalize.

    Sometimes I start with a draft and end up with a completely different post on the same topic. But the fact that the foundation was there, makes the process much easier. The trick for me is to do it more consistently and follow your advice.

  7. Karen Ruby July 6, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    I am a big proponent of writing draft articles. I find coming up with headlines really, really easy. It's the actual writing of the rest of the article that's hard :-)

    These are good tips. Don't worry so much at first – just get it down and polish later. It does make life easier if you do have at least a rough outline or a few sentences to get going when writing another article. Also, when you're inspired, take advantage of that and really push out tons of articles. Go with the flow.

    Thanks,
    Karen

  8. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    I hear you on going with that inspiration, Karen. When that muse comes to visit I've learned to sit down and write like my hair's on fire :)

  9. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    Gee, I was sort of hoping that the blog post fairy would be at your house Manal, so you could talk her into visiting the rest of us :) Hey, maybe there's a consistency fairy out there somewhere too! Haha.

  10. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Hi Rob. Relaxing is the ticket to good writing, or at least it's the ticket to fully enjoying the writing we do. Inspiration is definitely more fun than science :)

  11. Marion_Anderson July 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    I think you might just be my blog post fairy. You come up with such magical ideas for the newbie blogger. Yesterday I wrote a post which I was not happy with and so I left it overnight and came back to it today and it flowed so much more easily. The idea of writing a number of draft seems so sensible.

    Thank you Jean

  12. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    Hi Marion. Letting work sit between drafts is rather magical in itself. My high school English teacher used to call it 'cooling off,' and said it was one of the most important things we could do for our writing. Hmmm, maybe I need to write another post :)

  13. Preeti @ Heart and Mind July 6, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Jean,

    This is great reminder to have a back up of ideas or draft articles, in case of travel or other emergency when you can not do regular posting.

    Blog posting fairy would certainly help when ideas stop flowing. Somehow it has not happened to me yet, being a Gemini, I am interested in Vast areas of life. :-) jack of all trade and master of none. But it helps in ideas and topics to write about, which I love.

    You always have such a good info about blogging that it amazes me, there is lot to learn here. Thanks for being blogging fairy friend!
    Preeti @ Heart and Mind recently posted..No Spend Month Challenge- Update 1

    • Jean July 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

      Hi Preeti. You are a master at making me smile :) And yes, being interested in many things is so helpful when it comes to writing! Thanks for stopping by today!

      • Preeti @ Heart and Mind July 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

        @Jean,

        Am I making you smile? Great, but I thought I was making serious and heavy wisdom comment here, how did funny happened :-) Sometimes I am amazed at my hidden talent that I was not aware of.

        You are so witty and funny, maybe you bring out funny in me, does that make sense? Of course not.
        Preeti @ Heart and Mind recently posted..No Spend Month Challenge- Update 1

        • Jean July 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

          You make me smile just by showing up and being you, Preeti! You are very good at being you, so please don’t ever try to be anyone else :)

  14. Jake LaCaze July 6, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    I always enjoy hearing other people describe their work processes. You never know people will take away from your methods. I'm still waiting for the fairy though.

  15. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    I know what you mean, Jake . . . I love reading pieces or hearing interviews where writers talk about their writing processes. Hearing about their need for multiple drafts, the writer's block, the many rejections lets me see that all these things are just part of the process. But a fairy still comes in handy now and again too :)

  16. prolificliving July 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    So in other words, Jean, don't panic when your newsletter is going out to the readers in 12 hours and start to pull out your hair as you come up with another quality content?! Darn, I need a new plan ;)!
    Seriously though, I don't know how you come up with this stuff – this pre-writing must work because you are amazing! For a period of two weeks, I was one complete post ahead of schedule, as in I had Tuesday's post already ready to go before the previous Friday's post was published (it was also ready to go) – But I wrote the entire post, including photos and formatting, in advance, I did not put thought into brainstorming. I will do it your way for the next 10 days! I am so a virgin blogger, thank God for you Jean :)
    THANK YOU !!!

    • Jean July 6, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

      My reply to you is way down at the bottom of the page now, Farnoosh. The comment system is being changed from Disqus to Comment Luv so things could be interesting for our chats on here til it all gets sorted out :)

  17. Brandon Connell July 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    I was dishing out prewritten posts like crazy before. I have since slowed that down temporarily and write daily. I will find myself doing it again though when I need to free up some advance time.
    Brandon Connell recently posted..Killer SEO- Not having it will destroy your blog-

    • Jean July 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

      You are the most prolific post writer I know, Brandon! I have a bunch of them to catch up on too. And then I have a bunch of stuff I need to do based on what you’ve written. Lots of great ideas come from that brain of yours.

      • Brandon Connell July 6, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

        Yeah you have a lot to do. Especially after reading my seo post. Good work on changing your comment system. I hate disqus with a passion.
        Brandon Connell recently posted..Killer SEO- Not having it will destroy your blog-

        • Jean July 6, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

          I’ll be posting an article on why I switched in a day or two so you can come over and vent your hatred of Disqus :) I don’t think you should comment here unless I get over to your site and read that article though! Keep me in line, Brandon :)

  18. Ricardo Bueno July 6, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    I do pre-write a lot of my blog posts. I tend to start with the title first and I save the post in draft mode with a few bullet points so I can flesh it all out later.

    I find inspiration in other blog posts, in comments, at the bookstore (I probably spend a little too much time at Barnes & Noble). When ever I feel like I don’t know what to write/talk about, I reference my drafts to see if there’s an unfinished thought there worth posting.
    Ricardo Bueno recently posted..How To Be Influential

    • Jean July 6, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

      I love bookstores, Ricardo, and I don’t think there is any such thing as spending too much time in them. Haha. I love your drafting system – great way to get those ideas down and have them in a format that’s easy to work with down the line.

  19. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    That's right, Farnoosh, no panic :) Actually, I have a different plan for your newsletter scenario and it will be up soon in a guest post in another blog. Meanwhile, don't pull out any of that lovely hair :)

    You know what? I think we're all virgin bloggers whether we admit it or not. There's always a new way to see things or a different direction to grow. The trick is to approach everything with a beginners mind so we stay open to all the ways we can learn from each other.

  20. Brandon Connell July 6, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    No worries. I have been busy and not commenting here for a little while anyways. I figured you and my other regulars were boycotting me because I haven’t had the time to comment on everyones posts.
    Brandon Connell recently posted..Killer SEO- Not having it will destroy your blog-

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 11:50 am #

      I think a lot of our blogging friends are taking things a little easier for summer. They’ve been scarce here, and on their own blogs too. I was planning on taking more time off but then got hit with a stack of client work. That’s okay though. Paying the bills is good too :)

  21. Dev | Technshare July 7, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    Hey Jean,

    Awesome Post girl. Some brilliant points there.
    Thanks for sharing this great Post. Great work. Rock on.

    Btw. New comment system is much better than disquis :).

    ~Dev
    Dev | Technshare recently posted..7 Guaranteed Ways to Reduce Your Blog Bounce Rate

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 7:40 am #

      Thanks, Dev. I think you’ve been visited by the Comment Fairy with the way you get around :)

  22. TheInfoPreneur July 7, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    Hey Jean,
    Nice touch with the blog fairy.

    Off disqus, eh ? Cool, because I’ve been hating it as a user of it. Has some good traits, but sometimes when I visit blogs, it doesn’t hook up..and after wasting 60 seconds of my life…I just choose to move on and not reply.

    I prewrite posts. Not for too many days in advance, or too many in que. But my norm is that any post I have that is published, was made at least 1 day before it went live. Was all scheduled up.

    I feel a lot less stress using that method, versus, sitting down, knowing a post hasn’t been made in XXX days and that I NEED to get one out…right now. It really hampers my creative juices.

    Brandon
    TheInfoPreneur recently posted..Growing Your Email List – Real Results – 500 Increase-

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Brandon. I was hearing more and more from people that Disqus was causing them problems.

      Good system you have going there with the prewriting. It’s also a good way to make sure the show can go on, so to speak, if we have something in our personal lives that requires extra hours. It’s hard to enjoy an unexpected visit or a spontaneous family outing if all we can think about is that post we need to get written.

  23. Meg July 7, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    Never thought of inspiration as a fairy, I have to admit. Mine’s more like a mild nausea, something I am sensing that needs to be said, pre-verbal, then I try to put some words to it, and the more words that seem to fit, the more the idea takes shape and the words come faster as the the idea becomes clearer.

    This method does not lend itself well to pre-writing, as it is very much of the moment. It’s probably why I rarely write “Five Ways To…” type posts, because the problems I identify and work through require a different, less glib, approach. Of course that means I will have a difficult time packaging a “product” and monetizing my site. This may be a mistake on my part, I don’t know. My guts say to stick with the nausea (as it were) and stay away from the fairies!
    Meg recently posted..Small Steps vs Big Muddles

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 8:11 am #

      Hi Meg. I don’t ever think it’s a mistake to follow your heart (or your nausea) when it comes to creativity. There’s a lot to be said for honoring that!

  24. Dia July 7, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Everyone should read this article Jean, very nice job. What I usually do first is think of the message that I want to convey and then things will come more easily for me. Thanks for sharing Jean

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 10:23 am #

      Thanks, Dia. Yes, if a person can just get clear on their message or main point, writing is so much easier. I’ve had times where I don’t do that and just free write, which can be wonderfully freeing and creative, but it would give readers a headache.

  25. Hulbert Lee July 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    I wish there was a blog post fairy that could do that! Heh, just kidding. I have not spotted one either.

    I like the tips you shared with us Jean. I believe that prewriting is important to just get our brains jogging.

    Whenever I have written the introductions for the people I have interviewed, including you, I usually just grab a blank piece of paper and jot down notes for about 15 minutes about them. I write down the main points or some of the most interesting facts that I hear.

    At the end of that, I can usually come up with a pretty neat introduction and be done within an hour.

    Thanks for these tips Jean and I like your ending sentence (the one in italics). :)

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

      Hi Hulbert. I like the sound of a jogging brain . . . although sometimes mine jogs off without waiting for the rest of me :)

      You do a fantastic job with those interview introductions you post. They have drawn me into listening to a lot of interviews I might not otherwise have listened to because I didn’t know the person. I’ve never been disappointed either!

      Yeah, don’t forget to take off those wings. Haha.

  26. Angela Artemis July 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Hi Jean,
    Terrific! I love this.

    I guess I do have a Blog Post Fairy! My Fairy leaves titles on drafts at my blog. I usually write a few sentences until I run out of steam and then go about my day.

    When I come back later I pick up where I left off and finish the piece.

    Thanks for letting me know who the heck was leaving those titles! (not that I minded!)

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

      Well, now I know where she’s been hiding out! I should have known that she’d want to hang around your place, given your mystical abilities :)

  27. SWrightBoucher July 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Excellent tips in this post! Thanks so much.

    I like to collect snippets of information that could provide future fuel for my writing muse. Then, when I’m ready to sit down and write I already have a few ideas from which to select.

    Also, when I’m really in a writing mood I’ll do several posts and schedule them to publish on future dates.

    Thanks again for the great tips.

    • Jean July 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

      I like that you’re giving your writing muse some good fuel :) Sometimes it just takes a few drops and those muses can really fly.

  28. mark July 7, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    I don’t do any kind of pre-writing, though I would like to do something similar. Well, I do currently do the “Create a crappy intro” part. You are hilarious.

    Anyway, I may start trying this over the weekend. The problem that I have is that I tend to write something only if I am feeling inspired on a Sunday or Tuesday night. So far it has worked, but perhaps it is not the best method.

    My wife said that me blogging is better (for her) than me taking up singing again though.

    Have a great day!
    mark recently posted..How Change Can Happen to You

    • Jean July 8, 2010 at 6:22 am #

      Hi Mark. I basically create a ‘crappy everything’ when I prewrite. Hey, maybe you should have a ‘Mark sing’ tab on your navigation bar and post podcasts there :)

      • mark July 8, 2010 at 9:12 am #

        Haha. I think my wife might just get rid of me if I did that…
        mark recently posted..How Change Can Happen to You

        • Jean July 8, 2010 at 11:47 am #

          I have a hunch you’re too entertaining overall for her to get rid of :)

  29. Blog Angel a.k.a July 8, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    I do keep a running list of articles in my draft section of the WordPress dashboard. A quick description, some relevant links, etc. Always there when I need a quick post.

    As for my writing method, it’s similar – I write tentative opening and closing paragraphs first. It’s a lot easier to get to your destination if you know where you are starting from and where you want to end up.

    Then I point form the body in between. After that’s done, I flesh out the points, creating paragraphs. Add appropriate sub-headings, pimp up my keyword use and polish everything before publishing.

    Having a method that works for you is key. Flying by the seat of your pants generally wastes time.
    Blog Angel a.k.a recently posted..You Could Be An Avatar Star-

    • Jean July 8, 2010 at 11:50 am #

      Hi Joella. I used to try the ‘aimless’ method of writing posts and didn’t get too far :) Lots of words but hard to find a point buried in the midst of them! What you’re doing definitely works because I can always easily get the point of and learn from your posts.

  30. Alien Ghost July 8, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    Hi Jean,

    Great advice! I do pre-write some posts sometimes, but not always, it definitely saves time and help to have something to start with when no fairy is around, but never considered the points you give to make it a more efficient activity. I will definitely follow your advice. Thank you :)
    Raul
    Alien Ghost recently posted..Men Don’t Cry-

    • Jean July 8, 2010 at 11:51 am #

      Hi Raul. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, prewriting is a big time saver. That’s what’s been keeping me motivated to stick with it.

  31. Sibyl-alternaview July 8, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    Jean: Wow…what a great post. I really needed to read that one … you just don’t know how much I needed this info. and strategy:) Thanks so much for sharing. That list was really good and helpful. I really like the idea of just getting your thoughts down and not getting too caught up in creating a great intro. That is so one of my issues. Great post and great list. Thanks for that.

    • Jean July 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks, Sibyl. I am SO glad you found this helpful. That’s what blogging is all about – sharing what helps us so it can help others too. I tend to tussle too much with intros too and if I don’t just let go of that, it takes me 90 years to write a draft :)

  32. Paul Tech July 10, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Great tips. I find this method particularly useful when writing pillar articles which are hard to finish at one sitting.

    You can pre-write the main points, add links, quotes and polish off the article later.
    Paul Tech recently posted..World Cup 2010- Paul the Octopus Picks Spain To Win In Final Showdown

    • Jean Sarauer July 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

      Thanks, Paul. Yes, pillar articles can feel scary to tackle if we don’t do prewriting/drafting first.

  33. Alex July 10, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    Hey Jean,
    First, this is waaaay better than DISQUS(ting) so thanks for changing it.
    Loved this post Jean.
    Sorry it has been a while since I visited – been busy with, well everything really :)
    I love how you can take a topic that has been spoken about numerous times and rehash it in such a way as to make it engaging and unique but at the same time adding flavour to which new lessons can be grafted from the topic.
    Brilliant Jean! I am bookmarking this because lately I have been running out of things to talk about (which is quite ironic really)
    Alex recently posted..The Keyword Research Pro Review

    • Jean Sarauer July 11, 2010 at 6:39 am #

      Hi Alex. No one seems to be crying too hard over the disappearance of Disqus :) I hear you on the busy part. I’m up to my ears in client work and projects right now and am seriously delinquent on visits myself! I’ll get back to normal speed this coming week. Not sure if I’m being optimistic or delusional when I say that? In any event, it’s always good to see you – we might have some gaps between visits these days, but we’ll always reconnect at one of our online hangouts :)

  34. J.D. Meier July 12, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    I’m a fan of the headline and sub-points. One thing that helps me is thinking in terms of key take aways. I also like to focus on creating a single “chunk” of value — it helps me right-size things, especially when I can map it to a scenario.
    J.D. Meier recently posted..Top 10 Lessons in Improving Communication

    • Jean Sarauer July 12, 2010 at 8:06 am #

      ‘creating a single chunk of value,’ is something I really like the sound of. What a great way to approach writing posts. No wonder you have such helpful posts when you bring this mindset to the writing experience!

  35. Matt Mansfield July 13, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    I loved this post! It is so true that your fairy is never nearby when you sit down to write!

    Truth be told, my Blog Post Fairy must live in my shower. Every day, never fail, after my shower, I wind up in my towel, dripping wet, at my mac typing in the post that just came together for me in the shower.

    Maybe it’s the primal nature of the water or the fact that nakedness lets your truth shine forth, I dunno’ and I don’t care – it just works.

    Of course, prewriting sets the stage well for this process. I am constantly writing down ideas throughout the day and then they become fully formed under the shower head.

    Now all I need is a waterproof laptop and I’d be set!

    -Matt
    Matt Mansfield recently posted..The Advantages of Online Business Project Management Software

    • Jean Sarauer July 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

      Hi Matt. My fairy isn’t anywhere to be seen today.
      Then again, I haven’t checked the shower :) Thanks for stopping by!

  36. Cori Padgett August 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    ack…I needed a blog post fairy last week! :-/ So working on this whole fairy thing myself now.. I was in the lurch when I got hit with a week long migraine, instead of taking both my and the advice of all the other smarty bloggers out there, and writing a few “emergency” drafts I can shoot out into the bloggysphere. Time to done some wings!
    Cori Padgett recently posted..Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down- 3 Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Learn

    • Jean Sarauer August 2, 2010 at 8:47 am #

      Sorry to hear about the migraine! I have some friends who get totally shut down with those. Ah well, what would life be if we didn’t play catch-up now and again?

  37. Wilfred Girod May 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Very nice article and straight to the point. I don’t know if this is really the best place to ask but do you people have any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers? Thanks :)

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