Have you often wished you could write up a page of something you need without worrying about how you should go about it or if it will turn out fine? If you are like most people, you already know what you want to say but you are just not able to confidently express it in writing.
Unfortunately, you can’t escape some writing in today’s world. You may have to prepare a speech, article, press release, brief, or other content to market your business. If you can’t do this easily, it can take up a lot of your precious time and cause you a lot of anxiety.
In this blog, I will share with you the simple technique I use (after trying many different ideas over time) to develop a piece of content quickly and easily. However, learning the writing technique is just one part of the solution. The other, often unrealized solution to writing is removing the barriers that are preventing you from writing in the first place. When I recognized the barriers that used to keep me floored, scared or doubtful about writing, I quickly got them out of the way as I hope will happen with you as well.
The first and perhaps biggest barrier is procrastination, or the art of just not starting while looking for every reason in the world not to start. (More barriers are at the end. Don’t forget to remove them so you can focus on writing great content like you never thought you could.)
So why do people procrastinate about starting to write? Is it because there are lazy or don’t have the time, or don’t know what they want to say? No, the reason why people often procrastinate with writing is that they just don’t know how to start, so here is how to start. But before that, please pay attention to these three rules that you must apply throughout:
1- Always have paper or device with you to instantly note down your thoughts and ideas when they come to you.
2- Don’t wait for an occasion to think about what you have to write about. If you think of something, write it down immediately before you forget it. It may be a great point you can use in your article.
3- Don’t try to perfect things at every stage as you go along. Attend to that at the finishing stage or else you will get stuck and doubt your writing at every step.
Let’s write your page
Start with your objective
Ask yourself this question and write down what comes to your mind.
“Why am I writing this note? What will it help someone know or understand?
(Sample Answer 1) “I want to explain to Anita why she should enroll her daughter in this school and what she should know to help her decide.”
(Sample Answer 2) “I want to explain to David why he should buy our products and offer him a free trial subscription to increase his interest.”
(Sample Answer 3) “Many people don’t know how to write the most basic piece of content for their business. Some of them can’t even clearly describe what they do. I want to write a blog to show them an easy way to do it. I will describe the simple method I use and also help them overcome some of the barriers that may be preventing them from writing.”
Doing this exercise will help you get more clarity about the objective of the note or article you need to write. All you need to do is determine what is the end point or result to arrive at. People often confuse the process or method of getting somewhere with the end result. A process is not the result, but only the path to the result.
Apply the “Conversation Wireframe” technique
What is the Conversation Wireframe technique? A conversation wireframe is the basic structure of your page containing all the points you think you should include. To build it, simply imagine you were about to meet a potential customer who is coming over to know more about your business. Or you suddenly need to brief your team or give a speech with very little time to prepare.
Within seconds, your mind will begin to go over the points you can mention in your conversation. Just write down these points as they come to you on a piece of paper or on your computer. Don’t bother about the sequence of these points, grammar, or anything like that at this time. Just write. Don’t delete any points yet as they may turn out useful later. At this time, what you just need to do is a ‘transfer dump’ of all your thoughts to paper, however random or irrelevant they may seem. This exercise is your wireframe.
Now why do I call it “conversation wireframe”? This is because I believe you should approach all writing as if you were speaking to people. If you imagine you were talking, you will not have a problem writing these points down because it’s so much easier for you to have a conversation than to write, correct? So keep imagining you were conversing, not writing. It will also help you personalize your note and make it more relevant for your audience.
Once you are done, take a refresher break if you like or do something else. When you get back to your list of points, you will automatically find yourself thinking of more points you can add to your wireframe that will make your article more interesting and valuable. Just let everything come out of your mind on paper. Don’t worry about having too many points or how many words each point should have. You can always cut them down later. (An image of my wireframe for this blog is at the end to give you an idea of how I started out.)
If you have reached this stage, you have already overcome the problem of starting – procrastination. Now that you have already started, let’s get to completing your note.
Freeze your wireframe: Place your objective on top of the wireframe and start to rearrange the points in a logical sequence. Add or delete points as required. Keep adding notes to points if you think of something. I usually just scratch out points I don’t plan to use for now but never delete them completely in case I may want to bring them back. Just stay comfortable as if you were having a conversation.
An ideal logical flow is:
(a) background / problem
(b) method / solution
(c) benefit / result
(d) action you want people to take next
All done? Great, your wireframe is ready and you have overcome procrastination. Now, as explained in the next section, you need to add the body content to make your first draft.
Add “Body Content” on wireframe to arrive at first draft
The “body content” is the description of each point in your wireframe. Or you might say, it’s the “meat” you will add on to a skeleton. You will find this very easy to do because now you know the points you must elaborate on. (Previously you were probably writing many descriptions which are harder to line up in a sequence.)
To add the content, think of what you can say about each point of your wireframe in a couple of sentences. There is no restriction on the number of words and don’t try to perfect anything here—just write. Remember, more is better because you can always trim down later.
When you’re done, you will be looking at your first draft and you can reward yourself with another break or close this task for the day. When you resume, see if you feel the information is sufficient for the reader to adequately understand each point. If not, add some more. If it’s too much, trim it down. Soon, before you know it, a near ready page you never thought you could write confidently will be right in front of you, beautifully expressing everything you would have easily said if you were speaking to someone.
Polishing and finishing your draft.
You are now at the final stage of your note – polishing and finishing. Do the following:
Title: Add a suitable title to summarize what your note is about – the result a reader will get by reading it. Your objective may already have defined most of it. You can write your title in two parts: Main and Subtitle. The subtitle will allow you to use a few more words to elaborate the main title.
Seek an opinion: Share your note with a couple of people. You can tell them where you plan to use it but don’t tell them what it’s about or you will influence them. You can get some valuable feedback this way. If they understand what you want to convey, you’re doing fine. Use their feedback to tweak your note.
Typos: Check for spelling errors because they stand out and can be quite jarring sometimes. It’s also good to check for grammar but don’t fret about this too much because people express themselves in different ways and this is often acceptable.
Removing the barriers that are preventing you from writing.
Earlier in this blog, I mentioned that sometimes people are not able to write because of certain barriers. Here are five barriers that may apply to you and how you can remove them.
This only happens to me
If you sometimes wonder why the words don’t come to you all at once, be assured that it happens to others as well. Probably everyone, including great writers experience this at some point. This is where the wireframe will help you the most. Instead of trying to write everything in one go, get your talking points listed first. It is the base you need to get started. And if you think that only you feel fear of writing, remove that idea completely. You are not alone because there are many, many people who feel this way. They are probably just as scared as you and take forever to get down to their note. Some never even complete it. The difference is that now you can write that note fearlessly. They still can’t.
This is the first barrier I talked about. Think about why you procrastinate to start. If you are plain lazy or have other priorities, you must figure out how to conquer that. But if the reason for your procrastination is that you don’t know how to start and what to include in your note, then you should no longer be having this problem. If you apply my recommended techniques, you may soon be enjoying putting a note together, because you are confident of doing it well, anytime.
Don’t try to perfect everything at every stage of your writing. Don’t even expect to get everything right the first time or even a couple of tries later. First let everything come out of your mind on paper. There is no law that says you can’t have more than one draft. People keep evaluating their sentences in the earlier stages and end up never making progress. You can make small tweaks along the way but it’s better to keep writing. Once you have a draft, you will have a top view of your work so it’s easier to make changes. For this blog, I went over my wireframe twice and did three drafts before finishing it. (By the way, I’m from the old school. I find it easier to edit and make notes on paper than directly editing off a computer screen.)
The comparison trap
Don’t compare your writing to anyone’s writing. When people write, they start comparing themselves to other articles they have read. They become their own biggest critic, creating all sorts of benchmarks in their heads. In the process, they lose confidence in their own ability to write and don’t even start. What is your real need? Is it just to convey something for your audience, or are you writing for an award. Let your note be a simple, sincere expression of your ideas or instructions. Give it a personal touch where you can. The reality is that many people don’t write as well as you have imagined for yourself, and will not get a writing award. A lot of mediocre writing gets covered up by pretty styling using pictures, colors, fonts, etc.
If you get stuck on something, don’t hesitate to ask for help. But don’t get overwhelmed with all the advice available or else you will get more confused and demotivated. Apply a few ideas one at a time and don’t aim for perfection. Practice and experience will improve your writing over time.
Summary : The Five Stages of writing a page of content quickly and easily
- Conversation Wireframe
- Content on Wireframe Draft
- Polishing and Finishing
- Removing Barriers
You can definitely write quickly and easily. If you need a guided process to help you write or speak with confidence, clarity and command, go here.
The image on the right is my original “Conversation Wireframe” for this blog. They are the thoughts as they came to me. The points are not in logical sequence. These points were then reviewed and put into a logical sequence for my first draft.