From blog articles to ad copy and eBooks to video scripts, great writing is the cornerstone of memorable marketing. While most marketers recognize the importance of writing, that doesn’t mean that all embrace it. For many who fall into the “hate it” versus “love it” camp, the amount of time it takes to write quality content plays a big part in their dissatisfaction. As someone who has written a lot of marketing content in the course of my career, I get it. It can be very time-consuming to create quality content, but with a few simple tips and tricks, you can start to write faster and more efficiently. Here are my favorites:
1. Keep your ideas. The idea for a piece of content can often be the hardest part, and one of the biggest obstacles to efficient writing is coming up with a great idea. Set yourself up for success with idea files. These can be on your computer, on your phone, in a notebook. or in all those places and more, but they can be your go-to source when you need to start writing. Use whatever system works best for you for storing these notes. For example, I keep my ideas for blog posts and gated content in separate places so I don’t get them mixed up and each set of ideas is more focused. One important thing to remember is to include enough detail so you remember what each idea was about when you revisit them. Few things are more frustrating than finding a half-baked note about an idea and not being able to remember the full intent behind it.
2. Find the right time. As I write this blog post, it’s early in the morning and roughly 30 minutes into my workday. That’s really my sweet spot for writing and when I find that I’m most focused on creating content, particularly longer-form pieces. While many productivity articles and experts will advise that you knock out a difficult task or project first thing in the morning, writing might not be that thing for you. Take the time to notice when you feel like words flow more freely for you. Is that 8 am or 4 pm? Once you notice a pattern in what works best for you, follow that as much as possible. Because I’m a Content Marketing Manager, writing often happens throughout my day, but I try to stick with focusing on writing as much as possible in the morning and leave other tasks like editing or meetings for later in the day.
3. Break it down. When you’re planning a piece of content, it can seem pretty daunting. How is that 10-page eBook or 1,000-word blog post ever going to be completed? It’s simple. Don’t focus so much on the whole; think about the parts instead. Using this blog post as an example, there’s an introduction, a list of points and the details of those points. For longer content, make an outline and focus more on completing the individual sections than the entire piece. Breaking it down like this helps the writing seem more achievable, which can help you be more productive as you go about the writing task at hand.
4. Find the best approach. Does writing an introduction make you cringe? Or do you get hung up on the meat of a content piece? Whatever it is, we all have our Achilles heel when it comes to writing. The trick to overcoming it is first figuring out what your hang up is and then finding the best way to overcome it. When I write blog posts, for example, I do great with introductions, but then feel a little stuck sometimes when it comes to what’s next. To overcome this, I write my intro, then make a list of the points I want to cover in the body of the post. Once I have brainstormed that list, writing the rest of the piece feels far easier and I simply fill in the details of those points. The important part is to do what works for you. If introductions hold you up, start with another section and save the intro for last and chances are good that an idea for that intro will come to you along the way.
5. Avoid multitasking. The title of this blog post promises simple tips, but this might be a tough one for many of us. Multitasking is often seen as a strength, but when it comes to writing content, it can be a huge weakness. That’s because good writing requires focus, and it’s hard to be efficient at it if you are constantly switching tasks. You know best what your biggest distractions are, so work to eliminate them so you can efficiently power through your content writing. If it’s email, try closing your email program for a set amount of time while working on your content. If you find yourself distracted by conversations with co-workers, try putting on headphones and listening to music. No matter the distraction or the cure for it, focus on your writing and forget everything else, even if it is only for an hour.
6. Remember the route that works best. As a resident and native of Atlanta, I know a thing or two about navigating around traffic and remembering the routes that get me where I need to go in the least amount of time possible. Approach revamping your writing process the same way you would maneuvering your commute – remember the route that works best and stick with it. If you find that writing after lunch and starting with the end of a content piece is most effective for you and helps you write more efficiently, commit to that as your routine. Just keep in mind that, much like our traffic example, some days, even the tried and true route just doesn’t work. On those days, take a deep breath and see our next tip.
7. Get out of your own head. Sometimes, no matter what you do or the tricks you try, that little flashing cursor on the screen just mocks you relentlessly as you struggle to even find one word to put on the page. It’s at that point you need to step away. Take a walk outside, get a cup of coffee, respond to some emails – whatever you need to do to take a break, do it. While this might not sound like the best way to write efficiently, sometimes you need to get out of your own head to get your writing back on the right track. For me, walking is a great cure for writer’s block, allowing me to take a step back and brainstorm without a blank Word document staring back at me.