Keep a list of ideas on your calendar

Don’t burn your creative energy before you have to write.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a list of what I'd write for each blog post until the end of this month. I shaped them as lessons I'd teach my younger self.

On days I showed up tired and uninspired, that list became my safety net. I'd always know what I had to write about.

I wasn't always this diligent.

Long ago, I abandoned all lists. I tried them, but they'd grow long and unusable, so I tossed them all away. I never looked back or regretted it.

So why choose to do one now?

The essential difference is that I attached this list to a calendar. Every day I showed up, I knew what I had to work on.

It guided me. I was no longer short-sighted, desperate to get the next post out, but could see the entire forest through the trees. Also, I wasn't burning creative energy in deciding which idea should be next; I just had to sit down and do the work.

But I also wasn't bound to it. If I couldn't find inspiration, I'd abandon an idea and write something else. I also shifted the list several times, moving some items to a different day.

In November, I'm going to refine it a little more, focusing each week on a central question: what six pieces of advice would I offer around a specific subject?

Keeping a list like this will give you purpose and direction, whether for articles or stories. You don't always have to use it—you can easily change it up as you go—but it's good to know it's there, especially when you need the motivation and support to do the work.