Being able to write content fast is necessary when writing is what you do for a living. But if you’re a non-writing business owner, creating content may be at the bottom of your to-do list.
You’d love to do it but there’s always something stopping you, whether it’s being busy with clients or listening to those little mind-gremlins who tell you writing isn’t your ‘thing’.
But regularly publishing quality content is the thing marketing gurus keep saying you need to do. No pressure or anything, but don’t you want to stay at the forefront of your potential clients’ minds. For free?
I feel that pressure too. And being a writer means people actually expect me to churn out content at the drop of a hat.
I know what it’s like when you’ve got ideas bubbling around that would be great for a blog post or my latest newsletter. But getting the actual words out onto the page feels like walking through treacle. Tedious and tiring.
A lot of writers suffer from this. It’s not writers block as such, more like a resistance to getting the words out.
My writing resistance stems from the fact that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Almost like I want the text to spew out onto the page fully formed and if it doesn’t then it’s not good enough.
I know this isn’t going to happen. We all need to write that ugly first draft, as Ann Handley (author of Everybody Writes) calls it. And it’s true. Your first draft of anything ain’t going to be pretty, but at least it’s a start.
And there are ways you can get the words flowing.
Here’s 7 ways to kick your writing into gear so you can write content faster for your business
1. Jot down your idea
Having a set of ideas to pick from removes the struggle of wondering what to write about in the first place. It prevents that ‘frozen in headlights’ feeling when you have a blank screen in front of you.
For me, whenever ideas strike (usually at inopportune moments like when I’m in the shower), I find it useful to note them somewhere with a few bullet points as to what I want to say. I have one particular notebook named ‘ideas farm’. I also have a content calendar spreadsheet which I transfer these ideas onto so I can plan my content schedule several months in advance.
2. Crystalize your idea
Sometimes I have an overall concept of what I want to write about such as ‘confident business writing’. At that moment, the idea is just a little nugget with potential, ready to grow in many different ways. If I leave it at that stage without adding any more information then when I come back to it the potential tends to have fizzled out. The initial idea doesn’t seem so good after all.
Here’s what I now do to capture that idea fully and make sure it has room to grow when I’m ready to put pen to paper.
I note the overall concept, maybe a working blog post title. Then I flesh out the idea a bit into a paragraph or two, as if I’m writing the excerpt (the bit that explains what the article is about in a couple of lines that you see on a Facebook post). Doing this crystalizes my idea and reminds me of the key point I want to talk about. And this is so helpful when I come back to that idea in the future.
3. Create an outline to guide your writing
After 5-years of writing I’ve finally got my perfectionism demon in check. I know my first draft isn’t going to be the finished article so I can relax a little.
Now when I sit down to write content I take an idea and draft an outline. Usually headers, then sub-headers with bullet lists of the key points. So for this article I drafted a working introduction with 7 sub-headers for each point I wanted to make.
Then I leave my outline to percolate, for maybe an hour, maybe a day, before coming back to it.
The outline acts as a roadmap with the starting point and where I want to end up, with a few signposts along the way. Now all I need to do is fill in the sub-header sections to take my reader on the journey. Once done I leave it again and come back fresh to shape and edit my writing into the final piece.
4. Freestyle it
Sometimes I need to write something on the fly. And this is where my writer’s brain stands back, folds its arms and says ‘no way. I’m on strike’. On such occasions I take more of a freestyle approach and simply begin typing away. It doesn’t matter if I type sentences without a start or end. I just carry on, keep on typing.
After a while I get into the flow and the sentences start appearing fully formed. Not in paragraph order mind, but still, you can see the article taking shape.
5. Turn off the spell-check
If you want to write content faster it’s important to distinguish between writing and editing. Write first then edit later and you’ll be using your time far more effectively.
I always, always get that ugly first draft out without editing. Then I leave it for a time before coming back to the piece with fresh eyes. The first time I read through I’ll be looking at the structure. Do I need to move paragraphs around? Do I need to cut any sections or elaborate on any points? Once the structure is in shape only then will I start checking grammar, pacing and flow before the final proofread for spelling.
Turning off your spell-check to prevent editing mid-flow is helpful. What’s trickier is learning to switch off your inner editor who’ll keep up an inner dialogue as you write.
The best thing is to ignore it as much as possible. OK, so you correct a few spelling errors as you go. But don’t go reading back on what you’ve written until you’ve got the whole thing out first.
6. Use a timer
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like writing to a set time. Once I get going I’ll just write and write ‘til I’ve reached the natural conclusion. But, it can be handy. If for example I need to get back into my blogging rhythm then setting myself the challenge of writing for 10-minutes at the start of my working day can work wonders.
I started this post for example with the intention of just drafting it in 10-minutes. Then I went into freestyle mode and ended up knocking out 800 words in that time.
7. Outsource your writing
OK, I know you’ve found this article to learn my ways to write content faster. But as a busy business owner there comes a point when your content calendar is crammed full of ideas but you literally have no time to write the actual words.
And with the increased pressure to consistently publish content online you occasionally need to give yourself a break. Outsourcing your content writing occasionally is a good investment. It frees up your time and takes the pressure off. Find a reliable copywriter who’ll write one-off pieces or a block of content that you can use when time is tight.
Being able to write content faster is possible
Taking a little action each day, whether jotting down a few ideas or even outlining a blog post will move you one step closer to getting more content published and more potential clients reached. And if you decide creating the content you need is a struggle then you can take the decision to find someone who can help you.