I started writing professionally, back in 2009. I translated for money, and at the same time wrote web content for companies I knew.
18 years old with no business experience. I translated texts at a near-native level, from Polish to English and reverse.
But that’s irrelevant and doesn’t count as work experience.
Because my writing process sucked
I would take the original, read it rapidly, and then delve into writing a translation, sentence by sentence.
And when I was writing original content, I would just take a load of notes by scouring Google. Then I would cram them into a quasi-readable form, and call it a day.
This resulted in several time-sinks for me.
Editing. Huge time-sink, since I had no idea what I was doing.
Proofreading. Not as bad, but still took me about 15-30 minutes on each piece.
Formatting. Most of what I was writing at the time was printables. Thank God we live in the digital era.
And the biggest culprit… actually typing.
You too can save time on writing
Nowadays I use a four-step process, which addresses all of the above problems.
Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents
Piss Poor Performance
Step One: Research & Idea Generation
This is the most demanding part of writing. If you’ve ever felt ‘stuck’ or otherwise incapable of producing content… this is the solution.
Before I begin writing anything, I take time to research the topic I am writing on as completely as possible.
I’ll also keep a separate piece of paper handy, where I’ll jot down article ideas. Anything that comes to mind goes on the paper.
When that’s done, I look at the ways in which my writing is going to support my ongoing endeavors. That can be a client’s marketing strategy, delivering premium value to you – the reader – or just self-amusement.
Once I decide on which approach I want to support with the piece, I go through the list of ideas I made earlier. For every single one of them, I ask the question:
What value does this provide to the reader?
If I find it not suitable for the strategy, I’ll leave it for future use and move on. I’ll often go through 30-40 different ideas to find one that clicks.
Step Two: Outline, outline, outline
This is crucial. An idea can’t stand on its own. You don’t want to float around it any longer than absolutely necessary to get your point across.
By using a framework of how you want to present the idea, you’re making your work as a writer easier.
The way I do this is simply to guide the reader step-by-step. From the problem resolved by the idea, all the way to the solution.
As an example, this post consists of:
- Short intro
- Explanation of problem
- Step 1
- Step 2
- Step 3
- Step 4
Having a strong idea of what you’re going to say at each point makes writing effortless.
Step Three: Write
This is the part that is easiest.
What made the biggest difference for me in this respect was switching from typing to voice recognition. I went with the Google Docs Voice Typing feature, since it’s free, and available on all platforms.
Just doing this simple thing, increased my writing speeds by 3 to 5 times. Depending on just how complex the given topic is.
A 500-word piece would take me about an hour in the past. Nowadays, that’s 10-15 minutes, plus 5-10 for editing.
Once you have all the notes, ideas, and concepts laid out on the page, comes the tedious part.
Step Four: Edit & Proofread
I usually do my editing myself, with the help of HemingwayApp.
Then I drop the text into either Google Docs or Microsoft Word to catch any errors that might have slipped by.
Sometimes I ask my wife to read my writing for a final check-up, as she’s American, well read, and a very proficient writer.
Having a second set of eyes to rely on is always a good thing.
If you’ve found this helpful, or have comments, thoughts, or considerations about how this process can be improved, let me know in the comments.