Writing fresh content is hard work. That’s why it’s great to be able to recycle or rework it to make it go further. I find writing content mentally draining. A solid 5 hours of writing and I’m done for the day, so generally after that I will schedule in a different kind of work.

Mind you, in that 5 hours I’ve generally created a good bit of content.

Sometimes content comes slowly to us. Either we can’t get started and we put it off til the deadline is screaming at us, or perhaps we feel we haven’t got the muse today and everything feels a bit ponderous and laboured, or even we don’t feel we have the confidence, research or knowledge to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

If you have to write content and it doesn’t come easy to you – and let’s face it, it doesn’t really come easy to anyone, but we can still enjoy it – then I offer the following thoughts from what’s worked for me over the years.

Find your most productive writing time in the day and make sure it’s as undisturbed as you can make it. Schedule clls and meetings for other times of the day if you can. I used to do my best writing in the afternoon and evening, but I was younger and a student, so maybe the lifestyle contributed to my choice of time. Now I’m older I do my best work in the morning, so I start as early as I can, but not too early for me to feel shattered and for it to be self-defeating. Then again, I work a lot from home and my kids and good lady are not in the house 9 til 3, so maybe that’s also a function of circumstance rather than preference.

Before you start, get everything ready: your resource material, your computer, your coffee, some conducive music. You want to be prepared for some serious cerebration, and once you get up a head of steam you don’t want to keep getting diverted. Work in a concentrated blast of about half an hour, then get up at a natural breaking point, walk around, make a drink, do something that’s not work-related for 5 minutes. Then get back into it again. As I said, I find 4 or 5 hours like this and you’ll be pretty spent, but you’ll have some good stuff under your belt. By the way, students and revisers: this approach works very well for studying for exams too.

If you’re doing a big piece of work or project that can be divided into sections, re-read and revise the major section you’ve been working on before you start the next major section. You don’t want the old thoughts overlapping into and cluttering the new. Sustained, focused bursts in each of the different areas work really well for me. I don’t find it productive to have a number of different chapters on the go at the same time.

If you can’t figure out how to get started writing, then write anything down, to get into the behavioural posture of it. Title the work, write down when the work is due, put some guiding notes under the title to get the juices flowing in the right direction.

When you get to the point when you’re making loads of mistakes typing, and having to delete and retype, and re-retype, it’s time to stop. You’ll know when this time is, because you’ll be tutting and cursing uncontrollably.

Of course, if you’ve got some additional or even completely contrary approaches that work for you, why not share them too?

Advertisements