Blogs, articles, emails, newsletters, media pitches, product content, video scripts, book proposals, customer service, oh my!
That’s a lot of communication if you ask me.
The world of online entrepreneurship is also a world of words. On the web your language, your voice, and your brand are all communicated through written content…and lots of it.
The thing is, writing is hard. It takes work. And it even makes some people want to vomit.
When you sit down to write a blog post, do the words flow effortlessly?
Do you have a system for creating the content for your signature program?
Does writing a sales page or marketing email sequence overwhelm you to the point of feeling nauseous?
Because I am a copywriter and writing is my business, many people assume I have an unfair advantage when it comes to consistently creating original content.
However, you may be surprised to hear that even professional writers resist writing!
The thing is, as a professional, I can’t wait until “inspiration strikes” to put fingers to keyboard. I have to have a system for writing even when I don’t feel like it.
In fact, I have a pretty bold statement to make: Writer’s block doesn’t exist.
I blame fancy pants writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald for making writer’s block seem like a good excuse to put down your pen.
To me, “writer’s block” is simply evidence of a poor writing process.
Just like everything else in your business, you need a proven process for writing copy and content on demand.
For 10 years I’ve used the same writing process. It’s worked on everything from university essays to sales pages and social media posts. Today I’m sharing this secret sauce with you.
STEP 1: Freewrite
Goal: Warm up your creative brain.
Quick! What’s the next thing that you need to write? Pull out a piece of paper (or open a new document), set a timer for 10 minutes, and simply write whatever comes to mind about the topic.
At this point, you should have literally no pressure on you to come up with anything clever or even useful. You are not allowed to edit anything you jot down during those 10 minutes.
STEP 2: Brainstorm
Goal: Empty all of your ideas onto paper.
Now that your brain is warmed up, it’s time to empty it of all of your thoughts and ideas about the topic you need to write about.
My favorite way of brainstorming is with a “web” or “mind map”. Here’s how to do it:
On a blank sheet of paper, write the name of the topic you’re writing about in the middle.
Then, around that, write down all of the topics that come to mind when you think about the core topic. Each topic should have a line connecting it to the middle.
Now, write down all of the things that come to mind about each of those topics (and so on and so forth).
STEP 3: Research
Goal: Fill in the gaps.
Once your ideas are documented in a brainstorm, it’s easy to see where you need more information on the topic. Though research is the most boring of the steps, it’s ridiculously easy to find the information you need with a little tool called Google.
STEP 4: Outline
Goal: Organize all of the information.
At this point, you have 90% of the information you need in your freewrite, brainstorm, and research.
All you need to do for this step is organize the information in the order you *think* will make for the best flow for your final product. (You don’t even have to use complete sentences!)
STEP 5: Draft
Goal: Create full sentences.
See how easy this process is?
You’re already at step five and haven’t even had to write a complete sentence yet. From the outline you created in step four, the next task is to go through the outline and turn the fragments and bullet points into complete sentences.
STEP 6: Revise (and revise again)
Goal: Make the sentences better (and better).
The revision process is the one step of the process that can (and should) be repeated several times. Read your draft out loud. Print it out. Most of all, don’t be afraid to reorganize entire sections or make major changes to the writing.
STEP 7: Edit
Goal: Fix all spelling and grammar. Polish it up for publishing!
It’s totally OK at this step of the process if you have tons of spelling mistakes or have misused “their”, “they’re”, and “there” (I won’t tell anyone!).
It’s silly to make these kinds of mechanical edits until you know that the words are solid. Otherwise, you may end up perfecting a sentence you might end up deleting later on. By the end of this step, however, your words should be crystal clear.
STEP 8: Publish
Goal: Ship it off (and start the next piece)!
Are you ready for the hardest part?
At some point you have to decide that “done is better than perfect” and publish your writing. The best way to guarantee that you get this done is by having a due date.
That’s all there is to the writing process.
Did you notice that not a single step of the writing process tells you to “open up a blank document and write?”
The problem with the verb “write” is the meaning that we attach to it.
We assume that the words are supposed to flow out of us perfectly and effortlessly onto a blank document. This isn’t true for me or most of the writers I know.
Writing is made up of several smaller steps that you must take in order to create excellent content. The secret to pumping out thousands of words per day isn’t becoming a better writer, rather, having a better writing process.
Use this process to write your next blog post, sales page, or content for your digital program. Don’t forget to tweet me @CourtRJ to let me know how it works for you!