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 vice-versa.
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 age and I don't have to do that anymore.
And the biggest culprit... actually typing.
Nowadays I use a four-step process, which addresses all of the above problems.
Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance
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 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.
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:
Having a strong idea of what you're going to say at each point makes writing effortless.
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.
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.
But if you don't.... you can always just read your copy out loud.
If it sound strange to you, it's likely in need of a bit more work.