Almost all of my clients are talented writers, and they’re all overflowing with ideas. The common thread amongst business owners who hire writers like me is that they feel overwhelmed by the task and don’t have time. A lot of writing effectively and efficiently is simply practice, but I also have some tricks to share to help you write better content and save time.
Know your brand.
If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this! Before you begin writing—in fact, before you even come up with topics—you should have a very clear vision of your brand. Some questions I ask my clients before we get to work are: What is your brand’s tone (professional, quirky, sarcastic, friendly, casual, etc.)? What are some adjectives you’d want clients or customers to use to describe you? What was your journey like to start your business? What do you admire and dislike about your competitors’ business models? Some of the key points you’ll always find in my client notes are: the desired tone/vibe, keywords, their mission statement, and what makes them stand out.
Plan your content.
Do not wing it! It wastes so much time when you sit down to write and have to conjure up a topic—and then develop that topic in an organized manner while still maintaining your desired brand tone. Do yourself a huge favor and create an editorial calendar. Map your posts out at least one month in advance. Under each topic, list your main bullet points that you want to cover, and include any links that you want to include or that you plan to use for inspiration. It’s so much easier to come up with topics when you do it all at once, which leads me to my next point.
Batch your writing.
If you haven’t heard of batching, it’s when you do certain tasks in bulk to save time. When it comes to blogging, for example, you can set aside time to plan a month’s worth of content on Monday, write all of your blog posts on Tuesday, edit on Wednesday, and schedule your posts and corresponding social media on Thursday, etc. This saves so much time and brainpower! With blogging, I find it also helps prevent burnout because I’m not constantly working on the same blog—or even just dealing with the mental weight of thinking about it. I work on it for a few days, and then I have some built-in time off. When it’s time to go back to the blog the following month, I’m fresh and ready.
Ride your creative waves (but know they’re not essential).
I don’t believe that creativity precedes great writing. If it did, I wouldn’t have a job because there’s absolutely no way to experience creativity for 8 hours a day, every day. However, I do believe that we all have natural ebbs and flows of creativity that we can work with, if we have the flexibility to do so. Are you more creative in the morning or at night? Does your brain start exploding with ideas while you’re working out, commuting, showering, cooking? If you find the natural times you feel creative, you’ll notice it’s when you feel most energized. If you can schedule your editorial planning and writing for these times, writing will be a lot smoother. If not, know that I’ve written successfully with no sleep, on topics that bored me to tears, to the soundtrack of a crying baby on repeat. (When all else fails, you can always try coffee: the closest thing to natural creativity that I have ever come across.)
Don’t let your inner self-critic stop you.
If your writing feels so terrible it’s making you cringe, just keep going. Sticking to your list of main points (which you’ve planned ahead, right?), write down everything of importance, paying no attention to style. Imagine you’re just telling a coworker what this blog post is going to be about. Now, walk away! Take a long break or switch to another task. Sometimes when you come back to your work, you get lucky and realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Sometimes, it really is bad, but at least you have the bones now and can work on style. Either way, it’s always better than facing a blank screen!
Set a timer.
If you’re an overanalyzer or a perfectionist, you probably understand the struggle of writing in a timely manner. This is hands-down my biggest challenge. I don’t want to spend absurd amounts of time on a project (I am not paid an hourly rate), but at the same time, I want my clients’ work to be absolutely perfect. When I find myself getting stuck on small details like wording or style, I set a timer for a challenging amount of time and try to rush to get it done before the timer goes off. (Again, this is where that list of main points comes in handy!) The pressure helps me get into a hyper-focused state where I can more easily ignore the urge to rewrite each sentence 12 times. When I’m done writing or the timer goes off, I go back and fix the text to be exactly as I want it. It’s almost always faster this way, and perhaps more importantly, it saves my sanity.
Never edit after writing.
Always edit with fresh eyes. I highly recommend editing on a separate day, but if you’re in a rush, at least take a 10-minute walk to clear your head before sitting back down to edit. Your brain becomes familiar with your text as you write, so by the end, your brain is perfectly happy to read its own autocorrected version. Even as a former copyeditor with a sharp eye for errors, I can’t count the times I’ve thought a text was perfect and yet found several mistakes when I reread it later or the following day. There is simply no replacement for fresh eyes.
If you’re still feeling like writing is too daunting, you can always contact us for help. Unless writing your own content brings you joy, there’s really no reason to suffer through. Writing is one of the easiest tasks to delegate.
Guest Blogger Laura Quéré | Writer and Content Strategist
Laura Quéré is a content writer and strategist for creative businesses and bloggers. With a background in Marketing, Laura focuses heavily on branding in her work as a writer. She thrives in helping clients find their voice with content that is fresh, modern, and impactful. Her specialities are copywriting for websites and content writing for blogs. A firm believer in the power of editorial calendars, Laura offers strategic content planning to save time, stay organized, and maximize the impact of blog content. Having formerly freelanced for years as a copyeditor, Laura is also a shameless grammar nerd and spelling bee champion. Laura is a proud advocate of working mothers, as a work-from-home mother herself, and runs a local networking group for working mothers in Astoria, NY.