If I can be absolutely, truly honest, I have a love-hate relationship with writing.
You may ask: How can one who's job is to create content even say such a thing? Well, sometimes you want to write but can’t. Staring at a blank sheet you rack your brain for any sort of inspiration. Nothing comes.
And, other times, you feel like you’re invincible; typing over 100 words per minute. 2,000-word blog post? No problem. Sales report? Nothing. Web copy? Forget about it.
But for those times that you can’t… you feel trapped. You feel the frustration creeping in. The irritation makes you want to throw your laptop (or paper) across the room (or into the garbage).
Why is writing so difficult? You question. Why is forming the perfect sentence or finding that perfect word so hard? You ask.
You stare at the clock. Every passing minute feels like an hour. You give into the temptation to “take a break.” Yes, of course. Snarky dog memes ALWAYS lift my spirits and gets me in the mood.
Not this time. ARGH!
But, what if I told you that you could cut your writing time down in half? That writing something like a blog post or anything really, doesn’t need to take so long? Be so dreadful?
SKIP THE TIME WARP
Before you even think about writing a sentence or outlining your blog post think about your message. Think about your audience and your reader and try to answer these questions:
1. What problem is your piece of writing going to solve for them?
2. How will your post impact your reader’s life?
3. What do you want your reader to do, think after reading your content?
4. Why should your reader believe you or follow your advice?
If you know what your content seeks to achieve then you’ll write faster and better because there’s a light guiding you through the (seemingly never ending) tunnel. You’re writing will be more persuasive because you’re focused on your reader.
Educate. Inform. Inspire.
ALLOW FOR PLAY TIME
I always allow for more time than I need when writing. Because unlike coding, writing isn’t all 0’s and 1’s. There’s no set algorithm and no golden rulebook. You and I both (should) know that there’s a lot that goes into creating any piece of writing. Even a 1,000 word blog post.
When you have your topic try stepping away from your writing. Hop in the shower, do the laundry, go for a bike ride, do the dishes. Research shows that when we know we have to perform a task later, we unconsciously process the task. As a result, we’re boosting creativity and working through that mental block without trying.
Here’s how I break down the process:
1. I start by choosing a topic and creating a working title. It is usually a title that answers a question- how to’s are great for this. It keeps you focused on your end goal.
2. Then, I create a content outline. I write 1 bullet point for each section. This is also where you’ll do your research. For blog posts formatted with numbered steps I write the subheadings only.
3. Write your initial draft. Don’t worry about anything else except for getting words down on that page. Hear that perfectionists? IGNORE the errors. Write as fast and for as long as you can.
4. Ahhh. With the first draft complete, now you can eliminate redundant sections, review each sentence and improve word choice. I also tend to write opening and closing paragraphs and solidify the title in this step as the content is fresh in my head.
5. Now, it’s time for a little pampering. Upload it to your website (or medium of choice) and fix any formatting issues, add bullet points and chop long paragraphs. White space is your friend.
And just like that, the battle is won.
Spreading the writing process over multiple days helps you write better and faster. Just like an artist, every time you step away and come back to your canvas, you’ll feel more inspired with fresh ideas and new perspectives. You’ll write with more passion, purpose and clarity and your readers will be sure to notice.
Going back to the love-hate relationship with writing…
Sometimes, even I hate writing. And sometimes it feels as though I’d rather climb Mount Everest or clean the entire house than force myself to write a first draft.
But, I have a method to the madness.
I usually write first thing in the morning. I roll out of bed, change into sweatpants from pj’s (at least I changed, right?) and with espresso in hand sit down and start writing.
I’m not a morning person at all. I like to ease into my day, take my time getting out of bed and have a coffee long before I even think about doing anything. But, you’d be surprised at how focused a groggy mind can be. Your mind wants to get this particular task over with so it obeys.
I also prioritize my most urgent tasks in the morning because your first task of the day sucks the least.
So, I sit at my desk with everything silenced and time myself for 25 minutes and write as much as I can. Then, go make myself a tea because my fingers are little jittery at this point.
Then time myself again and again and again.
Do what you can to get it done. Trick your mind into getting your first draft written. Don’t worry about all the little things like sentence structure and word choice. Just write.
USE A FOOL-PROOF TEMPLATE
I’ll be the first to say it. I love templates.
A template is a clear structured way to write. Templates don’t hinder your creativity it channels it. It helps you to stay focused on educating, informing and inspiring your reader. Whether you’re writing a blog post, proposal, sales copy or web copy, this format can be used to guide you to writing seamlessly.
1. In the opening paragraph I will emphasize with the problem. I’ll either relate to my reader’s problem, bring awareness to an issue or state my position on a particular topic if it’s a more controversial piece.
2. In the main body I write a series of actionable steps in logical order. Or, just correlating to my subheadings.
3. The closing paragraph is where the magic happens. This is where I reinforce the importance of the entire post and encourage you take some sort of action. I relate it back to you and your needs and dispute any objections you may have.
It’s not really about writing “faster.”
Writing faster doesn’t mean write to get the job done. The purpose is to be more productive so you can spend more time sharing your writing rather than obsessing over it.
It’s not writing faster that makes you a great writer. It’s writing better.
Writing and producing better content.
When you have a clear vision you’ll Inform, educate and inspire your readers with ease.