Getting started writing anything – a book, an article, a brochure or video sales letter – means you are faced with a blank page, lots of white space and racing thoughts. Somehow you need to put those thoughts into words on your white space so they make sense to your readers.
As a content creator I get phone calls and emails about how to get started writing or asking for help to relieve the pervasive fear that the writing won’t be good enough, won’t get read or won’t be interesting.
A couple of years ago I was introduced to a video that Bob Newhart did even more years ago. In it he plays a psychologist who charges $5.00 for any office visit. He guarantees that he can cure your issues in 5 minutes or less.
A woman comes in who is petrified of being trapped in a box. She doesn’t like elevators or any enclosed spaces. Bob says he has two words that are guaranteed to cure her problem. She whips out a pad and pen and starts to take notes. Bob looks a little concerned that she needs a pad to remember to words but he plunges ahead . . . “STOP IT!”
It’s like the Nike ad – Just Do It! At some point you have to put your fear away, open a new document and start writing.
Everyone won’t like what you write. Sometimes it will take HOURS to write what you want. As you get more experienced it will go faster and you’ll be more interesting. It’s the same way when you attempt anything new.
Another concept that is important to understand is that there is no EASY button. Your new book won’t materialize tomorrow on your computer. But with just a little hard work and perseverence, it will.
Somedays I truly wish there was an EASY button. I wish I could open my computer in the morning and find all the writing for the day, already completed and ready to publish. But alas, no EASY button.
Here are the steps I use each time I have something new to write. Over the years these have become a bit ingrained so I don’t even think about them any more; and yet, I still do most them.
1. Jot down the ideas you want to cover in your content. If you’re writing a book brainstorm all the content and then split it up into chapters. This is alot like an outline, but it’s really more.
2. While you are brainstorming and talking outloud, get a recorder and be sure you capture every thought and idea. You’ll be surprised at how many little ways you come up with saying things that just seem so right. These are little gems when the words are just flowing together and make perfect sense. You’ll rely on this when you have to get the words to the computer. Keep your recorder with you when you’re driving, taking care of the kids or doing the dishes. Inspiration hits at the most amazing times.
3. Talk outloud when you are writing. I still talk outloud when I’m writing directly on the computer. I speak the content and then write. There is nothing in my head that doesn’t come out of my mouth. If you can learn dictation, then you may want to try using Dragon Naturally Speaking which is a voice recognition software.
4. Edit, edit and then when you think it’s finished, edit again. My best technique is to read the content outloud. I’ll generally go over it twice outloud, put it away for a couple of hours and then do it again. This way I pick up more grammatical mistakes, lack of flow in the content, poor construction or lack of clarity in the information.
5. Write A LOT. Write all the time. You get better at your craft when you do it more than once. Michael Jordan didn’t become the legend he is today by dribbling the ball occasionally. He practiced, drilled and practiced some more. You won’t have to write for hours every day, but set aside at leat 15 mintues each day when you sit down to write something. You might write a letter (NOT a short email!), a chapter to your book, an article, a video sales letter or a long sales letter. You aren’t going to finish in 15 minutes, but you will get more disciplined and have more success when do it every day, consistently and persistently.
6. Keep a deadline. Set a deadline to write at least two complete pieces every week. If you can write more, all the better. But, if you can’t the minimum is 2 pieces each week. Publish them and keep your deadline. This will help you to become disciplined in your writing and improve your creativity and productivity.
7. Before you hit the publish button, evaluate your writing against a few criteria.
Are your thought clear and concise?
Do you communicate them clearly?
Did you answer your readers questions?
Did you tell the full story?
Is the writing logical and follow a good flow?
Is the content credible and grounded in facts?
This is the process I use to produce content every day. You can use the same one and improve the writing you produce.
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