Please welcome today’s guest, Laura Pennington, who runs the website Six Figure Writing Secrets. Like many of us, Laura balances multiple jobs and responsibilities. Today she is sharing her speed writing process, which you can use to improve your writing productivity. Check out her awesome tips below (I swear by #3)!
I have been a freelance writer since 2012, but throughout that freelance writing career I’ve also juggled a full-time job or a part-time PhD student schedule. The only way I keep things organized and stay on top of all my goals while still meeting deadlines is to use a speed writing process.
Over the years, I have continuously refined my process in order to deliver high-quality work to my clients on time. Without being organized and using a speed writing process I would easily fall behind and end up missing deadlines for my clients.
Here are my best tips for anyone who is a freelance writer, blogger or creates content on a regular basis.
1. Have A Process for Capturing Ideas
Whether it’s a note book where you write down various ideas that come to you while you are out at the grocery store, or a spreadsheet where you track news reports that are relevant for what you are writing about, you should always have a way to capture your ideas. Ideas often come to you at the time when it’s least convenient. It never seems to happen when you are sitting in front of your computer, so be prepared.
I love having Google Alerts send me news stories for particular keywords. This gives me a heads up when something I usually write about has been published on the internet. Even if you don’t end up using any of these exact sources for your piece, it can be a great way to spark creativity.
For example, because I often write about freelancing and freelance writing tips, I have Google alerts set for “freelancing,” “freelancing study,” and “self-employed study.”
This alerts me to new trends in the industry and can spark ideas when I am running out of fodder for my blog.
2. Come Up with All of Your Ideas at Once
As a freelance writer, I have ongoing blogging contracts with the majority of my clients. This means that I am responsible for coming up with all of the ideas that go up on their blog. I come up with all the ideas at once by having a master spreadsheet of suggested titles and concepts as well as relevant news reports, studies and other details, such as frequently asked questions that readers might have.
I never create content for my own blog or for my clients until I have gathered several ideas and I can work on them all at once. Keeping my brain focused on this one task means that I am completely ready to write in the next stage.
3. Outline Your Posts
Pro-tip from Emily: I resisted outlining for months. It felt like an unnecessary step. But since I started outlining posts about 2 months ago, I spend half as much time writing posts AND my posts are more organized and easier to read. If you’re not already outlining, try it!
One of the ways that I capture a lot of content is by recording audio and then having it transcribed. Outlining my ideas first ensures that I cover all of my points.
You could also hire a virtual assistant. He or she could outline the main topics you should cover in any post so that you can gather the materials quickly.
He or she might also include links to relevant resources to help you when writing, which cuts out a major step of your process. I currently do all of my outlining myself and ask virtual assistants to step in when I am looking for a particular statistic or interesting fact.
4. If You Get Stuck, Try Recording
It comes as no surprise that even extremely fast typists still speak faster than they can write. One tip I learned from a mentor was to record my voice when I got stuck. This way I would have ideas already on the page when the audio gets transcribed. I now record the majority of the content that I create. Then, I edit it once it’s already in typed form. This saves me a tremendous amount of time as well as carpal tunnel.
Using my outlining process above ensures that I stay organized and cover each of the points that I intend to include.
It might take some practice to get used to these methods, but it’s worth giving it a shot. Once you find a method that helps you streamline content creation, you’re unlikely to deviate from it.
What tips do you use to stay on top of content creation?
Laura Pennington is a former Baltimore City teacher turned full-time freelancer. She now creates content for law firms and insurance agencies as a writer and teaches up-and-coming freelancers how to build sustainable lifestyle businesses from home. She blogs at Six Figure Writing Secrets.