When you’re building a business, you need to write fast. Maybe you’re writing notes for a video script. Or maybe you’re writing a blog post. Or maybe you’re just writing an email to a colleague. But if you’re not a writer, writing can be so tedious and time consuming. And it can make you want to rip your hair out. No. Hair looks too good right now.
In this article, I’ll reveal a simple 5 step process for writing smarter and faster, even if you’re not a writer. Let me take you back in time. When I first started writing, I’d wake up in the morning and get started. I’d open a blank text document, write 2 sentences and I’d scream at my computer. After a few more screaming sessions, I’d have about 2 paragraphs complete. I’d reread those 2 paragraphs and rewrite them.
Then I’d rewrite them again. And again. Then I’d scream a little more. And I’d give up and go clean my house. It would take me days to write a blog post. And when you’re creating as much content as I do, that’s a surefire way to never write anything. And I remember getting SO FRUSTRATED: “I Just cant do it!” “I’m not cut out for this.” “I SHOULD JUST QUIT RIGHT NOW!” Sound familiar? It turns out this is how a lot of people feel when they’re writing.
You kind of know what you want to say, but you just can’t get the words out. But everything changed for me when I stumbled on this interesting piece of advice from Eugene Schwartz, one of the best copywriters that ever lived. He wrote: “Copy is never written. Copy is assembled.” And that’s when the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.
That’s it! I need to stop writing into blank pages. I need a system for writing. To write, I need facts. I need anecdotes. I need action plans! And that’s when I honed a new writing process that allows me to pump out great content fast. First, I’ll tell you how it works. Then I’ll show you where you can download a FREE worksheet to help you start using my process today. Let’s jump right in. Step 1: You want to accumulate tons of ideas. When you write for a living, you should constantly be thinking of new ideas and new stories.
When I get ready for a Social Triggers TV video shoot, I often have a list of about 100 or 150 ideas that I want to write. Of course, all my ideas don’t make the cut. In reality, I only need about 10 or so good ideas. But choosing 10 good ideas from a list of 100 is much easier than thinking of 10 good ideas from nothing. So, whenever you think of a story or an idea that you can use in your writing, be sure to keep track of it!
Which leads me to the next step, Step 2: You want to eliminate bad ideas. Now, you’re likely wondering, “Derek, all my ideas are good. How can I decide which ideas are worth pursuing?” And that’s a great question. Just because an idea is good doesn’t mean that you should write about it.
That’s why, for every idea, I look to answer three main questions: The first is: Can I cite any interesting research or data about this topic? And if no research or data is available, do I have any personal breakthroughs, or know someone who had a personal breakthrough, with this topic? If the answer is yes, the idea stays. Now, what do I mean by “research” and “personal breakthroughs?”
Well, look at this article, for example. The idea was to write a script about my personal breakthrough with writing. And I knew that I could quote Eugene Schwartz. So it passed the test. Or, as another example, check out this article about the dumb pricing mistake most people make.
That was a pricing experiment I stumbled on in a book. So, if you have a breakthrough or research to cite, then the idea is probably worth pursing. It’s that simple. But if the answer is no, then it’s not worth pursuing right now. That doesn’t mean to throw it away. Sometimes an idea is worth researching. But when it’s time to write, the ideas that need additional research just don’t make the cut.
So you should save them for a later time. The next question I ask myself about a topic idea is: Do I have an opinion about this? This is an important question to ask. Here’s why: a lot of people tend to write what they have research about or personal experience about, but they don’t have an opinion about it. And that’s a problem.
Nowadays, people want to hear unique voices. And you can’t showcase your voice if you don’t have an opinion on what you’re writing about. So if the answer is no, the article gets axed. If the answer is yes, proceed to the final question, which is: What are the key takeaways for this article or blog post or email? You want to have something to cite, and having an opinion doesn’t necessarily mean you should write about that topic.
Since I’m in the teaching space, I also need to be able to teach people about something. I need to give them something that they can take action on and implement in their business. If I can’t, I often won’t write about it. That said, you may not be in the teaching space. And that’s fine. Instead of giving them something they can take action on, you can give them an action to take.
For example, you can say: “Comment and let me know your opinion about this topic.” I’ve run articles where I don’t necessarily give an action plan, but instead, I solicit an opinion. And it works great. So, after I go through these 3 questions, I’m usually able to whittle down my list from about 100 to 20 or so ideas.
That’s way more manageable. Now, what’s next? You want to go to Step 3: you want to Get Real Specific. From those 20 ideas, I pick the top idea on my list, and I flesh it out completely. First, I’ll outline it into a few bullet points. As an example, for this article, I started with this: 1. How to write fast 2. Writing is important 3.
But I struggled with writing 4. Then I found Eugene Schwartz. 5. Here’s what I do now. After you outline your idea, you move on to: Step 4, which is where you turn your outline into a blog post or an article or a video script. Now, here’s the deal. Once it’s time to write, all I have to do is follow my outline and assemble the article one part at a time.
So that, by the end, I’ve got 4 key sections and all I have to do it put them together into article form. Which leads me to: Step 5: Edit. As you might imagine, when you assemble writing the way I do, sometimes the writing doesn’t flow as well as you want it to flow. That’s why after I write the first draft of an article, I start editing it. Or I have someone else edit it. Whatever works in your business. The goal? To make it flow from start to finish. And that’s my process. It enables me to write fast and write smart. And if you’re in the business of writing, you should follow this process too.