As writers, one of the biggest hurdles blocking our path to success, is creating content.
The good thing is though, you’re not alone, in fact a study by Ascend2 found that a whopping 41% of marketing professionals struggle with content creation. The very thing they’re meant to be professionals at.
Have A Plan
We all know how tempting it may be to dive straight into writing, however it’s also an excellent way to waste plenty of time. Although that may seem counter-intuitive, taking some time to formulate a plan before you start writing has been proven to decrease the time it takes to complete an article.
Let’s be real, trying to remember everything you’re putting in a 2000+ word article is impossible. If you do manage to remember it all, your article is going to be all over the place.
Thankfully, planning out your article will not only not only makes for a higher quality article, but helps you visualize how you’re going to convey your point.
Here’s how I plan out my articles before I start writing:
INSERT PLAN PIC
I find the easiest way is to forego any fancy formatting or long winded explanations to myself. Instead, keep it simple, have the headings that will make up your article backed by dot points to jog your memory.
If you get really good at planning, you may find that creating a template to start with as a base is far quicker than creating one every time.
Get Rid Of Distractions
- Remove phone
- Library/ Office
- Airplane Mode
- Clear Schedule
Unfortunately, procrastination is human nature. So much so, that studies show 70% of workers feel distracted on the job.
MAKE INFOGRAPHIC WITH 70% OF WORKERS FEEL DISTRACTED, 74% OF MILLENIALS AND GEN Z, 16% FEELING CONSTANTLY DISTRACTED.
We’re wired to try and ignore tasks that our brains find stressful or not stimulating and I know I certainly can find writing thousands of words a day a bit laborious a lot of the time.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: get rid of those distractions.
Here’s my top tip:
- Take Your Work Elsewhere
My favourite place to get work done is at the library of my local university, it’s quiet and you’re surrounded by people working. The biggest thing though, is that I travelled to get there, instantly making me feel like I’m wasting time and petrol if I don’t get work done.
- Get Rid Of That Phone
Phones are a productivity black hole. Sure, they can be useful for contacting people and checking emails, but beyond that there’s not much they do that will actually make you more productive. So get rid of it, put it in another room on silent so you’re not tempted
- Switch Airplane Mode
Not just your phone, but the computer you’re working on is another huge source of distraction. To stop myself looking around the web for pointless things that aren’t going to help me, I switch my laptop to airplane mode.
- Clear Your Schedule
If you’ve got other things on your mind, you’re simply not going to write a lot or well. Getting everything you need to do out of the way first will help you focus on the one thing. And yes, that does include eating.
- Online games can help (find resource)
- Proper keyboard positioning
- Don’t look at keyboard
Typing speed is one of the few issues that don’t get addressed often, because most people don’t realize they have an issue.
One telemarketing company did an internal study and found that only 0.7% of their workforce could type faster than 60 words per minute. That’s an issue.
If you truly want to be pumping out thousands of words a day, you need to be maximizing your output for when you’re motivated to write.
Simply telling someone to type faster is a pointless exercise, but there are ways to do it.
- Practice Hand Placement
The vast majority of computer users don’t use keyboards correctly. Try and adjust to positioning your fingers like in the diagram below.
INSERT DIAGRAM OF FINGERS ON KEYBOARD
It may feel foreign at first, but this placement is by far the most efficient way to type, and will greatly improve your typing speed.
- Play A Typing Game
Kids these days are taught in school with complex games where the objective is achieved by getting better at typing. And guess what, there’s no reason your inner child can’t come out too.
There’s thousands of games to choose from, both free and paid, however I would recommend something like The Typing Of The Dead, it keeps a pretty boring topic interesting.
INSERT THE TYPING OF THE DEAD SCREENSHOT
Forget The Editing
Nobody wants to produce rubbish content that doesn’t make sense and is filled with grammatical errors. That’s why we’re all inclined to edit as we go.
But that needs to stop. Editing as you go is another silent killer of speed. You almost definitely won’t realize it, because you feel like you’re still doing work, but cutting out the editing saves me an estimated 30% of time. That’s because I have a tendency to rewrite a sentence 5 times until it sounds perfect.
Look at it this way, if you’re constantly going back and editing your work, that’s no better than constantly checking your phone.
Editing the entire article all at once will not only save you time, but produce something that flows a lot smoother.
Research First, Write Second
Research is in the same basket as editing, you’re still doing work, sure, but you’re wasting time.
Our goal is to try and have as little amount of things as possible distracting us from that block of time where all we do is write. While you could argue that you need to research to write well, I would argue, why can’t it happen beforehand?
The fact is, a good writer will know everything they need to know about a topic before they touch their keyboard.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to naturally know everything about the topic, but there shouldn’t ever need to be a reason to research once you’ve started.
I personally tie the research in with the planning stage, writing down any info I feel I will need in dot points. A good habit to get into is including links in your dot points, so you can quickly go back to them without having to trawl the web to find what you’ve already read.
Having A Routine
Whether it’s the order you in which you get dressed in the morning, or you’re entire week, all of us have some form of routine. Factoring time for regular writing is an excellent way to trick your brain into being productive.
In fact, there’s a fair bit of science backing this up.
Studies show that having a routine leads to lower stress and anxiety levels. That’s pretty important, considering that other studies show that some of the leading causes of procrastination aren’t laziness, but rather stress and (you guessed it) anxiety.
Being disciplined with a routine can also help you target your most productive hours of the day.
I personally could write all morning, ask me to do anything at night though, you’ll be waiting until the morning. That’s because that’s my routine.