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How a Non-Writer Cranks Out Content

By: Guest | June 21, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Brad Farris.

Content marketing. Blogging. eBooks.

We know these are all great marketing tactics, but they have one thing in common: They require me to write.

Because writing doesn’t come naturally to me, I find every excuse in the book not to do it.

Recently, I came across a video by Yuvi Zalkow about writing for busy people and some of his ideas have transformed the way I write – so much so that now I’m writing every day.

Yuvi advises people to stop shooting for perfection at the outset of your project. Aim lower.

Much lower. 

His advice has worked for me and now I’m a human writing machine!

Following are six changes to my writing process that have made all the difference.

1. Don’t try to write an article, just write an idea. (Yuvi calls it “scribbling.”)

Writing an article is hard! You need a good lead, some humor, and a strong finish. You need parallel structure, consistent punctuation, and grammar. When I try to think of all those things at once, I get intimidated.

So, I start with writing down ideas in raw form. I don’t think it through or go for perfection. I just write down my thoughts.

2. Don’t write at the computer.

This kind of raw idea capture is hard to do on my computer. My email bings, my IM window bounces and, soon, I’m distracted.

I capture my ideas on my phone in a simple text editor. I’ll admit a phone is a terrible writing tool. It has a tiny screen, a lousy keyboard, and cut and paste is a pain. But that’s just the point — I’m just jotting down ideas. For that, the phone is perfect. It’s always nearby, it only does one thing at a time, and that tiny keyboard means I don’t even worry about spelling, much less sentence structure.

3. Once you have written a few ideas, try to fit them together.

On Friday, I reserve some writing time — a solid block of time with no interruptions, no phone, no email, no meetings…just writing.

During that time, I review the ideas I’ve jotted down to see if they can be expanded, combined, or if they need to incubate longer. Usually, I have three to four blog posts started, and some random ideas that can just stay in the idea phase.

This concentrated time helps me to consistently move those ideas along.

4. Don’t write in Word.

I’m a Word nerd who can define styles and track changes with the best of them. But for writing a blog post (or any short work), it’s swatting at flies with a front loader. The problem with Word is that it confuses composition with presentation.

When I’m just getting ideas out of my head, I don’t need to worry about presentation. Because I’m capturing my ideas in a plain text document, it’s natural to stay in plain text as I move those ideas toward a rough draft.

 5. Shoot for a crappy first draft.

A crappy first draft has the skeleton of a good blog post; it has strong content, it’s ordered in a way that makes sense, and it gives value to the reader. But it’s not a finished post.

It may still need a snappy opening sentence, or a solid call-to-action. It may need an illustration and it may have some questionable word choices, but the basics are there.

 6. Hire someone else to finish it.

Once I have my crappy first draft all set, I send it to my brand journalist to make sense of it. You see, writing is really hard for some, and it’s best left to the professionals. A professional can take ideas and thoughts and turn them into something other people want to read, which is really the whole point behind writing, right?

If you want to get really nerdy and think about the right tools and software to make a process like this work, well Yuvi has you covered with another video: Serious Writing With a Computer.

What do you think? Whether you are a natural at writing or not, what advice would you give?

Brad Farris is the executive editor at EnMast.com, and principal advisor at Anchor Advisors, a firm that helps small business owners to grow their business. He’s also a frequent speaker at business events. You can follow him on Twitter @blfarris.

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