How to Cut the Time You Spend on Your Research Blogging in Half (and Enjoy it More)

Blogging research

Blogging, when you commit to doing it steadily, can feel like a blessing or a burden. You can look forward to blog writing as a time to extend the reach of your research in creative ways. Or you can anticipate it with dread.

What if time spent blogging didn't have to feel like a chore? What if you could create more posts in less time and get more enjoyment from the process, knowing your efforts were amplifying the potential of your research to transform lives?

The blogosphere suggests that the average blog requires about six hours of writing time. What could you do if you got half of that time back in your schedule?

Over the past six months or so, I've been paying close attention to my own blogging process, and I've now cut in half the amount of time it once took me to craft a post.  For me, the key has been to stop thinking about blogging as imparting information or teaching and to start treating it as what developers call a “sandbox”—a safe space for testing new ideas and trying new things. 

Think of your blogging time as an opportunity to delve into research that intrigues you, explore ideas that drive you, and connect with an audience beyond academia. If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming an advocate for the people who could benefit the most from your research, blogging gives you the chance to do that too.

Consider each blog article a postcard you’re sending from the latest place where you have arrived in your research and your thinking about its potential to transform lives. Blogging allows you to share your discovery journey with the patients, policymakers, funders, and other stakeholders who share your vision for change. 

How do you see the future after your research has been fully funded, tested, approved, and applied? Whom does it help, and how has your work improved the lives of those people?

When you reframe blogging as an opportunity to share your passion, you can write more clearly and effectively. The more deeply you become invested in blogging as a vehicle for expressing the ideas and beliefs you care about, the easier it becomes to pour the thoughts from your head onto the page. You may find you even start to enjoy the process. 

Here are four more simple principles to help you turn your blogging time into one of the highlights of your week or month:

1. Unleash Your Inner Storyteller

Breaking new ground in research involves doing a lot of writing that demands structure, an “objective” stance, and quantitative rigor. Your blog gives you the creative freedom to lean into qualitative insights and emphasize the human side of your research. You’ve got an open mic to share the stories that fuel your passion as a researcher.

2. Keep it Conversational

Academic training teaches us to avoid writing in the first-person (“I”) and adopt a formal, literary style. But blog readers don’t want to feel they’re attending a lecture; they’d rather feel they’re learning from a mentor or a friend.

Trade in your stiff, hide-bound sentences for a looser style. Break out the contractions (they’ll instantly warm up your tone). Choose everyday words. Write as if you’re speaking to a colleague over a coffee or a beer. You might even try speaking your draft aloud into a recording app; some writers find that a helpful shortcut that also helps them find a natural, authentic writing voice.

3. Use a Timer

As a former boss taught me, work expands to fill the time allotted. In the business world, this is called Parkinson’s Law, and it applies to writing just as it does to other tasks.

Make the timer your master. I like to set it for 45 to 55 minutes and challenge myself to see how many words I can produce in that time. (Writing for a little under an hour gives me time to get up and stretch, and shift mental gears, before my next task. )

If you’re the competitive type, you can even make it a game to track and improve your session output over time. (Ask me about the research on writing logs and productivity!) 

4. Treat Your Blog as Creative Meditation

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Oldfield compares writing to Zen meditation. Like a meditation practice, any kind of writing practice can teach us how to slow down and pay attention to both the outer and inner worlds.

When approached as a creative practice, blogging can create space in your regular routine. Space for noticing aspects of your research you mightn’t normally contemplate. Space for connecting your findings with opportunities you hadn’t recognized, especially opportunities for making a difference outside the lab and library.

Regular blogging may not be your favourite activity, but it should never feel like a slog. I encourage you to try some of the reframing suggestions I’ve shared and do a bit of self-study. How does gently shaking up your writing routine affect your productivity? Your confidence? Your zeal for connecting with stakeholders who can help move your research from peer-review toward practical outcomes?


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