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Writing Better Content Faster
Posted on July 25th 2014
Don’t we all want to write awesome content faster and more consistently? Yes.
I’m not referring to business-style blog posts, either, but anything you throw out to social media, your press releases, website content, and other material you publish on a regular basis. Time is, after all, the one thing separating us from publishing share-worthy material to billions of readers (see: exaggeration).
Regardless of how fast we’re able to type out a blog post, it’s still crucial that the content is actually effective, informative, entertaining, and attracts readers while encouraging shares. How do we do that? Well, I’ve come up with a few ideas I thought other writers (content or otherwise) would like to hear:
1. Kill the Routine
Nothing kills creativity like routine. Unfortunately, routine is an important way to achieve consistency.
This paradox somewhat refers to what I call the “shower idea,” or when you come up with an awesome idea in the shower and can’t stop thinking about it. Then, once you dry off, you realize A) That idea was terrible or B) You completely forget what the idea was.
The point here is that inspiration can come at the strangest times in the least expected places. Why? Because routine is absolutely mind numbing.
If you’re a blogger or working on a high-priority project, don’t expect to produce your best (and quickest) work at 8 a.m. More likely, you’ll find that perfect opening and topic when you’re waiting in line for your mid-day coffee.
2. Deadlining & Incentive
Routine kills creativity, though in the grand scheme of professional life deadlines are a very real thing. Pressure, as reporters and journalists may tell you, is one of the best ways to crank out that long-awaited project.
Like in school, just about every student would wait to write that boring paper until the night before it was due. Time, then, is on your side when you’re working against the clock.
Incentives are another useful way to write better faster. We each have our own incentive buttons, of course, and if it’s that leftover bowl of chili in your office fridge then more power to you.
3. Destroy Distractions
Writing is as mental as it is a physical process. Gluing yourself to that chair, moving your fingers in angular motions hundreds of keystrokes at a time, and not clicking your “Facebook” tab is challenging enough.
But distractions are something online marketers and modern web-writers have to deal with. For one, most of us work on and use the Internet eight hours a day. How can we avoid something so important?
That’s a question we all can relate to, so I also suggest some tips to avoid those ever-present smaller distractions as well. These include:
- Write away from other people, even if it’s in an empty conference room or broom closet.
- Turn off spellcheck. This allows you to write freely and forces you to go back and edit later. (No one likes those blue squiggly lines, anyway.)
- Find a comfortable — but not too comfortable — chair.
- lean your desk, fill up the water bottle and coffee mug, and take care of petty chores to get rid of petty stressors.
- TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE!
I am not a huge advocate of outlining what I write, though when I do take the time to lay out my posts I see major benefits. For one, when I know what I’m going to cover next in a post I have something to write to instead of drawing out a previous topic (and worrying about word count).
When pre-outlining, it’s important to start with a Question and an Answer. Like these:
- Q: What kinds of tricks should writers know about for writing better and faster? Why should they care?
- A: Routine is terrible, outlining is important, distractions and deadlines have different effects. They should care because it will help ease writing stress.
See? It’s that easy.
If you want to go all out, you can beef up your outline by listing out each sub-section and the key terms, concepts, and ideas you want to discuss. Outlining is also important when you’re doing the classic “10 Tips” and similar posts, not to mention the fact you have no reason to stop writing when you know what happens next.
Chill out, relax, sit back — there’s no greater advice for writing better faster, especially if you’re a high-stress blogger or content marketer. Very little good comes from taking things too seriously. If you’re worried about being sloppy, don’t — that’s why revision exists.
Relaxing your language helps tremendously. Besides, who wants to read newspaper-esque, robotic articles on the Internet?
*For the writers out there, I put together an infographic on this very topic on a completely unrelated blog of mine over here.