I was giving a speech at my Toastmasters club and no one raised a hand. My audience feared writing more than they feared public speaking.
Writing is a skill we develop just like any other skill. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us. And once we’ve learned how to write, we still have to work at improving our skills.
In your quest to add content writing to your marketing mix, consider the following ways you can work to become a better content writer.
1. Block out time to write
As a writer, I’m always thinking about writing. But I wouldn’t be able to complete a single writing project if I didn’t actually sit down to do the work.
That’s why setting aside a specific block of time to write is so important.
How much time do you need to compose your thoughts in 250 words? That’s just enough for one blog post.
2. Hand write with pen and paper
I’ve spent most of my adult life writing on a computer. But I also like to write by hand in a journal. I want to feel the words and sentences as they take form on a page.
Many other writers feel the same way.
When you write with pen or pencil on paper, you exercise all your muscles, from your fingertips to your brain. Researchers say this activity increases brain function, thereby improving your ability to write.
So if you’re afraid to write, do yourself a favor. Take an electronic device break and learn to compose your thoughts the old-fashioned way.
3. Pick a topic
To be a better content writer you have to train your mind to focus. For your scheduled writing session, pick only one topic to write about.
Maybe you remember an interesting problem you solved for a customer. Or maybe something happened in your personal life that can benefit your customers in some way.
Don’t know what to write about? Brainstorm with others for topic ideas. You can also survey your customers for topics.
4. Imagine Your reader
The copywriter Nick Usborne says he imagines his reader sitting across from him at the kitchen table.
This is a good idea because, if you don’t know who your reader is, you’re going to have problems writing content.
So figure it out: Who is your target reader? Then imagine having a conversation with that person in your kitchen.
5. Organize your thoughts
In Writing to Deadline, David M. Murray said he liked to stop and think before writing. After he did his homework developing the story, he would just lean back in his chair and think.
Some people like to go for a walk or the gym.
I like to scribble words on a page. Then I’ll give the scribbles structure by labeling them 1, 2, 3. That’s my outline, which looks like a mind map with these lines all over the place. Sometimes the colored Sharpies and highlighters come out, so I can really zero in on what I want to say.
Do you know how you like to organize your thoughts? Then take a moment to be with them. Just think.
6. Write fast
You’ve scheduled time to write. You also have your writing tools, topic, and outline—either written or composed in your head.
Before you forget anything, write about your topic as fast as you can.
Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, and grammar. If you want to publish your piece, you can fix those problems during the editing phase.
7. Slow down to edit your work
Editing is where you take what you’ve written and make it understandable to the person sitting across from you at the kitchen table.
Editing is when you step back and view your handiwork objectively. At this stage you want to question every little detail: Does this preposition go with that verb? Did you spell this person’s name correctly? Did you cite your reference and check the link? Did you cite your references?
And if you don’t know the answers to your questions, look them up.
You might also like: 5 Benefits of Blogging for Your Small Business and 4 Reasons Why Small Business Owners Love to Hate Blogging.