Does this situation sound familiar? You sit in front of the computer with the full intention to write a blog post, paper, or article, but the moment your fingers touch the keyboard, you can’t bring yourself to type up anything decent. Your muse or source of inspiration is nowhere to be found and you’re easily distracted (*cough* Facebook!) Before you know it, an hour has passed and you’re still staring at a blank page.
Slow writing days aren’t pretty. They kill your productivity and leave you feeling like you just wasted a lot of time. And if you’re trying to make a living doing it, then you know that not being able to write fast enough can also kill your earnings.
Fortunately though, slow writing days don’t have to be the norm. As you’ll find out below, developing the right habits when it comes to writing and idea generation will save you lots of time and make the writing process smoother and easier.
1. Always have your ideas handy
A lot of writers get stuck at the very beginning. They sit in front of the screen without having a clue as to what to write about, so they end up wasting time racking their brains for something to clever to put on paper.
Don’t make the same mistake. Avoid taking on a writing task empty-handed (or should we say “empty-minded”). It’s a one-way street to Writer’s Block Lane or Distraction Boulevard. Instead, develop the habit of always keeping your eyes and mind open for ideas.
If you’re reading a blog post and see something that you can write about in the future, take note of it immediately. Write it down or use a note taking app such as Evernote to do it. Hear an inspirational quote that you could possibly use? Make a note of it so you won’t forget.
By doing so, you’ll always have a trusty note pad (or note app) filled with ideas, lines, or notions that you can draw inspiration from. Have your notes with you at all times and whip them out when you need to come up with content. Do this, and you’ll find it easier to begin writing.
2. Create an outline
Before proceeding to write a witty introduction or type up lengthy paragraphs, plan out your post by creating an outline. Jot down a quick line or two about what you need to say at the beginning, write down the main points that you want to discuss in the body, and then move on to the conclusion.
Having an outline gives you a plan. It gives your writing some direction, organizes your thoughts, and helps you flesh out your ideas quickly and more effectively. It also keeps you from being distracted. An outline enables you to stay on point and prevents you from wasting time writing things that are irrelevant or unimportant.
3. Don’t mix research and editing with writing
Once you have an outline, do your research and look up all the things that you need before you begin writing. Get the research task out of the way so that you can just focus on finishing that article. Don’t do your research and writing simultaneously–this will only lead to distraction and it will slow you down.
Avoid looking up words or synonyms while you’re in the middle of writing. Doing so can curtail your thought process. If you think that there’s a better word than the one you just typed, highlight it, then keep writing. You can go back to it later when you’re polishing the piece.
The same goes for fact checking or ensuring that you spelled names or took down numbers correctly. One minute you’re looking up stats to make sure that you wrote them down, then, before you know it, you’re clicking through blogs or checking your Twitter feed.
Just take note of these little things and deal with them once you’re done with the entire first daft.
Many people ask what it takes to become a good writer, when I think what they’re really wanting to ask is: what does it take to be an effective writer? 6 Tips to Learn Effective Writing from George Orwell
Set a Goal For Yourself
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