Let’s face it, writing is not for everyone. Some people enjoy it. Others, well, some people would rather stab themselves with an inky nib than write something that will be seen and judged by others. We call this morbid but common condition ‘write-o-phobia’.
But fear not. Help is at hand if you’re struggling. Below are 7 short points to help you structure a blog, news piece, or a similar article. Remember, you can jot down anything just to get started.
Most of my lists and first drafts are rubbish. That’s why everything gets edited. By keeping calm and following the steps below, you can make write-o-phobia a thing of the past.
1. Think before you start
What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to? Why? What’s in it for them?
Your audience is all-important. People have lots to read and see and do. If what you have in mind would not reward them in some way, go and have a cup of tea. Have another think about what you want to write.
Set a time limit so you research with purpose. Look online (or in magazines or brochures, etc) to see what others are saying about your subject.
What are your closest competitors saying? You don’t want to copy their blogs and news stories. But you could be inspired by them. Make a list. Use this as the basic structure of your article.
3. Go somewhere quiet
Turn off your internet connection. Push your phone under a cushion (with notifications turned off). Buy a shed. Do what you need to do to avoid getting distracted from writing.
This is especially important if you have a deadline to meet, but it’s a good discipline anyway.
4. Expand your list
Reorganise your list so your points are in a logical order. You could even write ‘step 1, step 2, step 3…’ to guide you through it.
Expand your points. As you do this you should start to see your list transform itself into a draft article. As if by magic. For example, for this article, my list could have looked like this:
- Intro on how to write an article
- Think about what you want to say
- Go somewhere quiet
- Expand list
- Include CTA
- Edit, edit, edit
- Ask a colleague or two to check it over
- Adjust in line with their feedback
- Publish article and make some coffee
5. Include a CTA
Your call to action is often the purpose of your article. It’s what you want your readers to do after they’ve read your piece. Make it as snappy as possible. For example, ‘click here to find out more’. Or ‘visit our website’. Or ‘click here for your discount code’. A clear, simple call-to-action will encourage your readers to follow your instructions.
6. Edit, edit, edit
Keep the purpose of your piece in mind when you re-read it. Does it do what you wanted it to do? Have you missed any important information? Is it in your company’s style (formal, chatty, funny, cheeky, authoritative, etc…)?
Is everything spelled correctly? Is the grammar good? Read it out loud and listen to see if it flows well. If not, adjust it.
7. Ask others to look at your article
When we re-read our own writing, we often see what we think we wrote, rather than what we actually wrote. This is one reason it’s useful to ask someone else for their opinion.
Also, they may notice if you’ve added unnecessary information. Or missed something important. Don’t get miffed with people’s feedback. Most of it will be helpful. And getting miffed will distract you from the editing process.
No, writing an article isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But nor is it rocket science. If you and your colleagues are happy with the result, go for it. Publish your piece. There comes a point when you have to let go and move on.
Take on board any feedback you get from your readers. This will help you improve your writing over time.
If all that sounds a bit much, get in touch and I’ll write your articles for you. Alternatively, I can create a workshop that will further help you and your colleagues overcome write-o-phobia.
Thanks for reading.
First published on writingworcs.co.uk