Today let’s discuss a few hacks for the one task that bloggers will always have – writing content. For the past 2 weeks, we have the series – Content Creation Hacks for Bloggers and Creative Business owners running on the blog. The previous posts focussed on generating ideas for content and creating a editorial calendar, you can check them out here:
- How To Come Up With New Content Ideas For Your Blog
- How To Use An editorial Calendar For Your Blog & Business
So you have got your editorial calendar in place, you’ve gathered your ideas and research for the topic you want to write about and you are ready to start writing away. This maybe easy at times and at some others, you find yourself stuck at a point and not able to make progress. Call it writer’s block or lack of inspiration, here are some easy ways for you to get past it and make progress.
Start with a title and outline:
I have found it extremely helpful to have a working title before I begin writing the post. This title doesn’t have to be attractive or perfect just yet, it just needs to tell you what you are writing about and remind you not to stray away from the topic itself. One of my favorite assignments in primary school ‘fill in the blanks’ and this helps me while writing blog posts too. I always create an outline for my post before I start writing; I create headings, bullet points – the bare bones structure of the post. Once this is done, I start filling in the post with the outline as my reference. Once I start filling in, it also helps to follow the question-answer approach. I turn each of the headings / bullet points into a question and try to write an answer for it. For example, consider the point “use a timer” in this post below. I turn it into a question like – How can you use a timer to help you write blog posts? Now to write content for that point, all I need to do is simply answer that question.
Create a writing zone:
To create a powerful habit, you need to do it consistently – each day. Honestly, writing isn’t easy and doesn’t come naturally to most people. But once you make a habit of it, there’s no stopping! The best way to tell your brain to get ready for writing is to create a writing zone. Select a particular time and location to write and do it the same way – everyday – until it becomes a habit. Whether it is playing soft background music or sipping a glass of wine – create an environment that inspires you to write. For me, it is sitting down in the wee morning hours with a cup of coffee. The mild sunshine, smell of morning air and coffee tells my brain that it is time to write. Doing this consistently has helped me improve my writing and at the same time develop a liking towards it. There was a time when I used to absolutely dread writing blog posts and would procrastinate until the last moment to get it done. But now, that’s a thing of the past and I absolutely look forward to writing each morning.
Write, Write, Write and then edit:
One of the biggest mistakes most of us do, is trying to get the words and flow perfect as we write. If you are trying to write beautifully and get the perfect words in the first attempt, then its likely that you are going to get stuck. When you start, it is important to get the words flowing first than to get it right. Just let the words flow and write everything and anything that comes to your mind. Write, write and just write as much as you can. Once you are finished, you can go back and edit the post. Editing is the time when you cut out the excess, make your phrases beautiful and perfect your piece. As Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.”
Use your unique voice:
Writing becomes instantly difficult if you try to imitate someone else’s way with words. Forget how other influencers and peers in your industry write. Focus on getting out your own unique voice and style in your content. This will not only let your words flow and make writing easier for you, but also distinguish your brand and highlight your personality. Of course, taking inspiration is never a bad idea, but don’t let that suppress your own style and voice. Instead, use that inspiration to highlight your own voice and personality!
Use a timer:
For me, one of the game changers when it comes to productivity while writing has been using a timer. Think of this situation: you sit down to write and tweet! comes a twitter update. And that’s the end of your writing task for the next 20 minutes. You need a distraction free environment to write well and have the words flow freely. By using a timer, I commit myself to the challenge of finishing the task on hand. The race with time helps me stay focussed on writing and pushes me to finish the task before time. It also definitely helps to turn off all notifications and distractions while working.
Use structure templates:
By using templates for you posts, you can cut down on the ambiguity that comes with writing content. Lets go back to my first point “Start with a title and outline” – sometimes, even this gets hard – because you can get stuck on how to structure the content of the post. But if you had a template for the kind of post you are writing, this would make the process easier. For example, lets say you are writing a list post. All list posts tend to follow a similar structure:
- Describe the problem to the reader
- Describe why its important to solve this problem
- List all the resources/ tools/ methods that you want to present
- End with a thought/note to the reader
See? This kind of template can fit a list post on any topic. And once you have the basic structure, it will be easier for you to modify it for the particular needs of the content you are writing.
There are a ton of tools out there to make writing easier and fun. Here are my favorite tools that help me write content effectively and quickly:
Evernote Speech to Text: If you are not in the mood to sit down and write, or want to save on time, you can use the amazing speech to text feature of Evernote. All you have to do is turn on the microphone, press the record button and speak the content out loud. Evernote will automatically convert your speech into text and save you a ton of writing time!
Thesaurus.com: Its always useful to have a dictionary or thesaurus while writing. You can quickly look it up for attention-grabbing synonyms or meanings of words you want to use in your content.
Hemmingway: This is amazing app that analyzes and checks your content for grammar, correctness of sentences and readability. It tells you how many and which of your sentences are too long or difficult to read. In their own words – “Hemingway helps you write with power and clarity by highlighting adverbs, passive voice, and dull, complicated words.” and I can confidently vouch for their services.
Pomodoro timer: This is a free timer app available for MacOS. It greatly improves your productivity by helping you implement the pomodoro technique. I switch it on while I write content and it helps me focus and finish the task on hand!
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What are your tips for writing content effectively for bloggers?