Procrastination seems to be the arch nemesis for most content creators. Yet, there are some mythic writing figures who can allegedly write tens of thousands a words a day, every single day. People like this naturally spur envy in those of us with lower word counts.
However, writing fast and efficiently can be attributed to doing the right prep work, and having the right systems in place, rather than innate talent alone. This is good news for those of us who’ve been struggling to consistently create a high volume of content.
In fact, Contently found that around 41% of businesses are failing to keep up with their content production schedules. Yikes! Below, we dive into a repeatable process you can use to ensure you’re always creating a steady stream of high-quality content for your brand or your business.
It might take some time to get the process down, but by experimenting with the process below you’ll build a writing routine that works best for you.
Let’s get to it!
1. Do the Prep Work
Staring at a blank screen, knowing you’ve got thousands of words ahead of you can be quite intimidating. One way to avoid this dreaded feeling of overwhelm is to lay a solid foundation, so you’ll never have to be looking at a blank screen, wondering what to write, ever again.
Have a Stock of Existing Ideas
Instead of trying to come up with an idea to blog about, it can be helpful to have a running document where you can jot down potential headline topics, interesting perspectives, or half-formed ideas.
This can be something as simple as a Word document, a tab in Evernote, or a Google Doc. It doesn’t matter where it’s located, just as long as it exists. Then throughout the day, as ideas arise, you can jot them down.
Or, if you have a content calendar, just add the potential post titles to the list, and work your way down.
Use Templates for Post Scaffolding
There’s no point in reinventing the wheel when it comes to blog post formats. Readers already come to expect your content to fit into their existing idea of what a blog post “should” look like.
If the thought of creating listicles, or “how-to” posts bores you, then you’re not thinking hard enough. Blog post templates can be thought of as the scaffolding of the building. You don’t see them once the building is finished, but they’re absolutely necessary for the structural integrity.
Blog post templates are essentially proven formats that web readers enjoy consuming content in. Some common templates include:
- The how-to post
- The list post
- The celebrity (influencer) round-up post
- The ultimate guide to certain topic
- The resource post
- The case study post
- The taking a stand post
2. Lay the Foundation
Photo via: Luis Llerena
Once you have the bare bones of your post, it’s time to flesh out your idea a little more, so that when it comes time to write you can do so effortlessly. Writing fast has to do with preparation. By spending the time up front outlining and researching, you’re helping yourself avoid hangups when the actual writing begins.
Choose One Idea
Effective writing is clear, concise, and focused. There’s no fluff and it gets straight to the point. If you use your blog posts as a personal journal, or tend to get very tangential, then you need to reel yourself in.
During the blog post selection phase, you need to narrow down your idea as small as possible. By sticking to a single topic, you force yourself to stay on point and end up delivering a much more compelling post.
Always Start With an Outline
Once you have your single idea and post framework chosen, it’s time to outline your post. Writing without an outline is like trying to find treasure without a map. You might find it eventually, but it’s going to take much longer than if you knew where you were going.
Most blog posts follow the simple outline format below:
- Your enticing introduction
- A quick post lead in (what your post will be about)
- The meat of your post
- A conclusion and call-to-action
Fill out each section with the necessary sub-headlines and quick notes about what each section will be about.
Break Into Writable Sections
Most blog posts are comprised of separate sections broken up by sub-headings. When you’re creating your own outline for your post, you’ll notice that some sections, like the introduction and conclusion, will be easier to write than others.
By being able to get some words down that are easier to write you’ll start to build momentum. This momentum will help you to keep going through the tough parts. After all, one of the hardest parts about writing is getting started.
Breaking your post down into various sections will also allow you to jump around as you write. That way, if you get stumped on a specific section, you can skip it and come back later.
Get Your Research Ready
As you’re outlining your post, take note of any sections you’re going to need to back up with facts or references. By doing research ahead of time you’ll avoid disrupting your flow. You can always add the hyperlinks and proper documentation during the final editing process.
By reading through research beforehand you’ll allow it to incubate and come out in a more natural way. Rather than having to stop mid-sentence to find the perfect statistic to reinforce your point.
3. Learning to Let It Flow
Photo via: Luis Llerena
If you’ve followed all the steps above, you’ll have everything you need to write your blog post as quickly as possible.
The final pieces the puzzle are creating the most conducive writing environment and learning to turn on your writing mind.
Create the Right Environment
Focus is hard to come by these days. With the internet, social media, our phones, and millions of other pressing distractions, it’s very difficult to find a time to write.
However, here’s a few hacks that’ll make it much easier to focus and get your writing done:
Close the door
Writing fast is all about sustaining flow. Whenever a colleague comes into your office to ask you a question or you open up your inbox, you break your focus. Create time in your schedule when you’re going to write and do nothing else.
Close your office (or home office door), turn off your phone, turn off wi-fi, and let the words flow. You’ll be surprised at how much less time you need to write when you’re actually able to focus.
Experiment With the Pomodoro Technique
If you have a hard time sustaining focus for a prolonged period, then experiment with the Pomodoro Technique. Essentially, you’ll be working for 20-25 minute bursts coupled with 3-5 minute breaks. You’ll repeat this four times, then have a longer break of 20 minutes to a half hour.
This helps you easily stay on task—twenty minutes seems like a short enough time to focus. Then, you’ll have five minutes to check email, respond to messages, check Facebook, or whatever small task you’d like, before you dive back into your next session.
Use Classical Music to Focus
Some of us have to write in complete silence, while others prefer the low-level noise of a coffee shop. If you’re not sure how you focus best, experiment with listening to classical music. Baroque classical music has been shown to help with focus and productivity.
Cut Out Distractions
We mentioned this above, but it’s worth mentioning again. Turn off your phone. Block any websites you know are time wasters and turn off the internet if need be. By removing the ability to become distracted, you’ll encounter less resistance to actually getting the words down on the page.
Write First, Edit Later
Writing and editing use two different parts of the mind. Yet, people try to combine these two modes of thinking and end up writing much slower as a result.
The goal of your first draft should be to get all the words down on the page. That’s it. By trying to make every single sentence perfect before you move on, you’re making it much harder on yourself.
Read what you’ve written after you’ve written it all the way through.
Then, once you have all the words down, take a break. You can come back later to edit the post and polish everything up with fresh eyes. You’ll be surprised how much the quality of your content improves when you’re trimming the fat and making things flow when you already have a bulk of words—rather than trying to do it from the start.
And there you have it, a repeatable process that’ll help you write faster, better, and more frequently.
What’s your best trick for getting more writing done? Share in the comments below.