Not all webmasters are good writers, but if any part of your online marketing consists of creating content, getting serious about improving your writing craft should be one of your number one priorities. I don’t think I need to stress how important it is to actually create content worth reading these days if you want to compete; it’s hardly a debatable issue anymore. But if writing isn’t your cup of tea yet, it can sometimes take you an entire day to even produce a rough draft for a blog article.
You will get better with time and experience; meanwhile, let’s look at some tips for creating better content faster.
1. Sloppy First Drafts
One of the first lessons any aspiring writer needs to learn is that it’s more important to write something than it is to write something perfect. It’s okay for first drafts to be ugly, so avoid the temptation to polish as you go along. Instead, spew your mind on the paper and keep those fingers moving, no matter how awkward and lame it sounds.
Where the magic happens is with redrafting. In fact, you’ll often find it isn’t so bad as you thought on second look, and over time, your natural writing flow will improve, making it possible to edit less and less.
2. Set a Low Quota
Sitting down to write, while the most important step towards getting it done, can seem overwhelming, especially if you set your word quotas too high. Much more important than getting a certain amount of content written everyday is instilling the habit of daily writing.
With this in mind, set your standards very low. Tell yourself you only have to write for 15 minutes. Or that you only have to produce 500 words.
The great thing is that once the ball gets rolling, it often just rolls on away.
3. Always Use an Outline
If you’re not already using outlines for your articles, try it and see – you’ll be amazed at how much it speeds your writing along.
Your outlines don’t need to be super detailed either. What I do is just write out the subheadings and maybe one or two notes between each about what that section will cover. If you just take this couple of minutes to brainstorm before you get going, it really makes your writing more efficient – you’ll find it sometimes almost seems like the article types itself.
4. No Research While Writing
Do all of your research before or after writing the article. It can be tempting to jump online to hunt down a fact while in the middle of the paragraph, but this breaks you out of your flow and becomes a real time-waster.
Instead, use the “tk” trick. “T” and “k” very rarely show up next to each other in the English language, making it a very convenient marker. Place a “tk” next to any section you want to do some research for, and later you can find these instances easily using the “find” function and do your research then.
Meanwhile, you can just focus on getting the article down.
5. Only Write What You Care About
Have you ever noticed how sometimes you get into this zone and just pour words on the paper for hours? Do you remember times when you didn’t have to stop and collect your thoughts, when you actually enjoyed the process and felt almost high when you finally stopped?
There are multiple factors that contribute to this flow state, but a common one is that it usually happens when you’re writing about something you are enthusiastic about. Doesn’t that make sense?
Stick with topics that excite and interest you. If that never happens in your niche, you may want to reconsider your business. Otherwise, just try to cut out the more boring topics as much as possible. If it doesn’t strike you as interesting but you have to write about it, think about how you can make it interesting.
After all, if you can’t conjure up enthusiasm for what you’re writing, you can hardly expect the prose to capture the attention of your audience either.
6. Discover Optimal Writing Times
Many great writers report being more productive at specific times of the day. Some do their greatest work late at night, after everyone else heads off to sleep or the bar. Others create their best content in the early morning hours while everyone else is still snoring away. Maybe your most productive time of day is in the afternoon after a good lunch.
Try writing work at different times of day and noting your results. You might be surprised.
7. Know Your Metrics
Keep metrics on all your writing sessions. Record how many words you wrote, how many hours it took, the time of day, and details about challenges and successes. If you monitor your writing process, over time you’ll develop more insight into your own habits so you can further optimize the way you work and reach even greater levels of writing productivity.
8. Do All Your Writing at Once
Even though you don’t want to give yourself big goals when you write (as you don’t want to overwhelm yourself before you start), you should still reserve a decent chunk of time, just in case. The longer you spend writing in one session, the easier it tends to get; thus, writing a ton of content at once is more ideal than sitting down and writing a page or two and then finishing.
At some point, you’ll no doubt reach a point of diminishing returns, but you’ll know when you’ve gotten there.
One thing I want to warn about. The above tips can no doubt make you a much faster writer – if you put your mind to it, you’ll become a content-generating machine. But all that said, don’t make speed your only priority. Get that content down on paper and then come back to give it some loving and touch it up a bit. If possible, set it aside for a few days, work on other articles, and then revisit it after a few days to redraft it with a fresh mind.
Time it right and you can keep the content coming while still ensuring everything gets professional-level attention.
Have you stumbled across any good writing efficiency hacks?