'Good' Content in JUST 20 Minutes?

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.

Big time.

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.

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 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
  • Problem
    • Explanation of problem
  • Solution
    • Step 1
    • Step 2
    • Step 3
    • Step 4
  • End

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.

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.

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