June 12, 2017
One of my favorite things about writing is that, in practice, it feels like a modern art. It’s hard to fake a talent for good writing, as it remains to be an area within the digital sphere where quality can’t be automated.
What I will say I’ve noticed, specifically among younger content writers and bloggers, is a slight deterioration in the practice of content writing. Maybe it’s due to the demanding deadlines that content writing requires, or maybe it’s just becoming increasingly difficult to write something that hasn’t already been said. Or maybe it’s just because that’s what happens when we write for a living and reach the inevitable content burnout. Whatever the case may be, there are certain habits we as writers can nurture and develop to remain inspired, focused, and with a razor sharp tool set.
Few things help me as much as reading as much as I can, every single day. To be a great writer, it helps to read like one. If there’s an online news source you like to follow or if you have a favorite columnist, warm yourself up at the beginning of the day by regularly reading their work, and take breaks during the day by seeing what’s trending.
It also helps to read a broad variety of texts. Mixing in something like creative short form content with a classic piece of literature keeps your mind active and challenged by different styles of writing, giving you more samples of inspiration to pull from.
Having a general template to follow when you write your content is hugely helpful, because if nothing else, it helps push you along from how to begin to how to close. Plus, having a consistent structure to your writing makes it easy for your following to become accustomed with your style and writing.
You can easily create your own structure or template for your writing by looking at past pieces and the topics you frequently write about. I personally find the APP method most effective, which stands for: Agree, Promise, and Preview. When I feel like I’m getting stuck on a topic or can’t find a good way to start, I plug it into the APP method, and then adjust it with my own style.
I don’t mean brainstorming as in sitting at your desk and painstakingly hunting for something to write about. When I’m brainstorming most effectively, I’m off the clock at a Starbucks, listening to music, and poking around the internet while jotting free, unstructured notes. Whenever I do this I leave with really solid content ideas and a clearer picture of what I want to communicate over a longer span of time.
Brainstorming under the constraints of a work day or scheduled time can put too much pressure on the necessity of creativity when brainstorming. By making it a casual and relaxing practice, you can open your mind up to different perspectives and apply your own angle to topics rather than looking for ways to regurgitate existing content.
Giving information by way of content writing is great, but it’s much more effective when there are clear, actionable items built into it that readers can apply easily apply to their own lives. Some of the most successful forms of content are lists, tips, and how-to’s that boast a clear call to action.
Instead of briefing readers on a certain subject or providing content summaries, try and create clear take-aways for every piece before actually writing it. Ask yourself how you could communicate the subject to a beginner, or what specific steps a person should take to make whatever you’re writing about a reality.
Social stagnancy can make for an unsuccessful online presence. Aside from promoting your own content, you should really make a habit out of promoting relevant content by other writers, too. Part of being an effective writer entails a responsibility to actively participate in different online communities.
Start sharing the work of those favorite columnists or news sources, and try and get to the writers behind them. See what kind of tips and advice they have for being a better content writer, and in doing so they may in turn share your work.
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