It usually takes me a long time to sit down and start writing. I begin by brainstorming the premise, and then I consider how to deliver and structure the content. Most importantly, I meditate on the usefulness of the information I’m providing.
As you can see, writing is a complex art form, and you already know quality is of the utmost importance, thanks to Google's updates. But as copywriters and brand journalists, it's our job to pump out creative, informative blogs on a daily basis, often times with inconvenient deadlines. Here, I share four steps for delivering quality copy in under an hour.
Start with research. Any information you provide to your readership should be well-grounded with verified references. Whether it’s Reddit or the Wall Street Journal, a skilled writer is able to curate any topic or statistic into digestible copy. Find your sources, compare the pros and cons and contemplate your angle. For referencing options, try visiting national news authorities like the Pew Research Center or Forbes for credible, in-depth information on your subject. Then, localize your search to find regional, relevant material. Additionally, a filtered search using the appropriate hashtags or keywords can hone in on trending updates; Hootsuite works well for this.
Although it may be time consuming, this is a critical part of the writing process. My sister always tell me “write what you know.” Considering I don’t know a damn thing, understanding my topic through research is always my first step at the keyboard.
Time to write! Now that you know your subject, you can start answering the questions your premise raised: Why is this important? What’s the big deal? What’s the solution? Don’t worry about flow, style or cohesiveness at this point. Instead, break up your research into points you want to address and start writing the facts into hard copy. Think of this stage as the outline of your article. As writers, it’s important we construct a framework to guide our storytelling.
This is where you’ll need uninterrupted focus to power through distractions and writer’s block. My recommendations to keep your mind sharp:
For many writers, distractions can jolt life into a stagnant creative process; but, if your 500+ word article is due in 60 minutes or less, you don’t have time for “creative inspiration.” Block them out with an app like FocusWriter, which clears your computer screen of distractions and provides a clean writing space.
At this point in the writing process, you can start to connect the dots. Rearrange your content into a seamless progression of relevant information for an easy, compelling read. Depending on subject matter and target audience, content personalization often clarifies a complex topic. In other words, by humanizing your copy, you add relevancy your readers can appreciate.
And, as many of us already know, bullet points, graphics and other visual aids help to breakup block text. Keep in mind the visual presentation of your blog; if you can, dive into the HTML and tweak any elements that make your rendered content stand out.
We’re almost done. It’s easy to make mistakes if your deliverable is due in an hour, so after you type the last period, always take the time to review your blog to ensure no grammatical errors or incoherent claims were made. Here’s my editing checklist:
Your audience should have no confusion of what it is reading, and you, the author, should feel confident in your finished product—much like an artist prideful of his masterpiece.
This is my strategy and suggestion for timely blog writing. I encourage you to share other tips and tricks for writing against the clock in the comments section below. Think you’re faster? Trying going for 30 minutes.
Photo Credit: Mike Licht, Mike Licht