Learning how to write faster will make you happier.
There is nothing worse than agonizing for hours and hours over one blog article, then realizing you have 4 more to write this week. I got some great tips from the fabulous Marie Forleo in the article How To Write Fast: 8 Secrets To Better, Quicker Content Creation. Here are a few of her tips and a few of my own to help you overcome the complaint that you don’t have time to write:
1) Keep a Topic List: Don’t waste time looking for topic ideas. Often writer's block is a symptom of a lousy topic. When you see good source material, use a tool like Evernote or Pocket to bookmark it. If you have a great idea, write the headline, save it as a draft and drag it into a folder called “blog posts to write”.
2) Plan Ahead: Make an editorial calendar and choose a topic or theme in advance for each month this year. I think this works especially well for Dynamics partners who sell multiple products. Each month you can focus on a different main theme. You have time to compile ideas in advance and this takes the decision out of what to write.
3) Set Deadlines: Make a plan and stick to it. For example, commit to one blog post a week, or one a month. Have some kind of outside accountability in place, e.g. somebody who is expecting that post. And if you work with someone else (for example using my Record/Transcribe/Polish method) make sure you have a strict deadline for revisions too.
4) Eliminate Distractions: Set aside time to write just as you would for any other task. Writing is not something you just squeeze in. Turn off your email, forward your phone and hang a do not disturb sign on the door. This is your time to concentrate.
5) Add Distractions: I know I just said to eliminate distractions, but personally, I concentrate better in a crowded coffee shop than I do in a quiet office. As long as nobody is talking to me and I am not checking email, this busy environment is where I get my best work done. So know yourself and your writing style. Don’t be afraid to get out of the office and into a creative environment that works for you, so the ideas can flow.
6) Set a Time Limit: Marie talks about “Parkinson’s Law”: basically, work expands to fit the time allotted. So give yourself a time limit to write your blog post. It's very easy to go down a rabbit hole of research, outlining, and topic shifting. Before you know it, an hour has passed and all you have on your screen is a few sentences. But if you know you have to get one blog post written before the 10am marketing meeting, you have a specific time limited to fit that into.
My tricks: I order a latte and commit to finishing my writing before the coffee gets cold. Or I will unplug my laptop and commit to finishing my blog post before I run out of battery power.
7) Make an Outline: Think about end result of your blog post: what do you want the reader to walk away with and what action should they take? Work backward from there. Or form your topic into a question and give 3 bullet point answers. Then expand those answers. Add an intro and conclusion and you are done.
8) Keep it Short and Sweet: High quality does not mean large content. Try sharing one tip or one idea and save the rest of the details for another article.
9) Skip the Title: Just get the words on paper. You can go back and write a killer title later when the ideas are flowing.
10) Don’t Edit: Just start writing and get it all out. If you write something and think of a better way to say it, don’t delete, just write the new sentence. You can go back and edit later because editing is a quick process when you already have content on the page. Don’t break the flow of thoughts.
11) Flip Your Script: Your subconscious mind is powerful. If that silent voice inside is saying, “I am a really slow writer” or “I am a really bad writer” then that will come true. As Marie says, “You want your subconscious mind on your side, so flip your script”. Tell yourself that you’ve got this!
The more you write, the faster you will get. That is one reason why I decided to start this blog. It gives me more practice in writing about topics I enjoy and I have committed (to myself) to post one article a week. And I have committed to sending out a monthly marketing tips email. So if I don't write anything, I will nothing to send. But since I write this in my “spare time”, I have to figure out ways to be quick about it.
The same is true for you. Blogging works, so you need to make time for it. (tweet this)
By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing