It’s Tuesday again–time for another tip. I’m going to apologize, because I started writing this today, which is a big mistake, but also a great learning experience. Many of my Tuesday tips actually come from writing them.
Long story short, I had been working on a draft for two days; however, there was no way I was going to get it polished in time to be a Tuesday tip (Wednesday perhaps, but that isn’t the name of this post). So I had to think of a new topic last minute, which got me thinking. How many of you post the same day you write the draft? How many of you like to put a full night’s sleep between you and your draft before posting so you can go back and look at it with a fresh mind?
I’m taking my own advice today by creating this post using a 5 step method that I normally utilize. Although I recommend taking two to three days to write a post (one day to research and outline, one to finish the draft, and the next to edit and revise), this method will allow you to write a well-structured post in a couple of days or in a last-minute pinch.
Step 1 Outline
It’s important to outline. If you don’t know what needs to be said and when, putting your draft together might look something like this:
- choose a subject
- something you are passionate about.
- something you know a lot about
- something you’ve recently talked about with other people
- a current trend
- decide tone and style
- serious, playful, professional, etc
- consider audience
- consider prior post
- consider your topic
- what you don’t know
- what others have said on the topic
- sources (keep a list and links)
This last part can take an hour or more, which is why I suggest researching and outlining the first day, and drafting the next.
Step 2 Create the structure
This is where you take those bare bones and put them together to form a skeleton. Create your headings and subheadings. This will help you keep your thoughts organized when you go to write. For instance, let’s say you were writing a post about auto insurance for beginners. Your structural outline might look like this:
- Why you need auto insurance
- property damage
- bodily injury
- comprehensive and collision
- uninsured underinsured
- towing and rental reimbursement
- How to save money on auto insurance
- compare rates
- combine policies
- safe driving
Step 3 Write
Just write off-the cuff. I do recommend writing in order. Start with your introduction. Try to hook your reader as well as clearly state what you will be writing about. Fill in the headings and subheadings. Because there’s already an outline, it’s like filling in the blanks of a multiple choice quiz. Lastly, write your conclusion. Re-emphasizes main points and tie it back to your introduction. This is also a great place to call your readers to action, even if it is just to encourage them to comment and share.
Do not edit as you write. Your writing will be more natural and sound less robotic or contrived if you just write what you think as you think. Write quickly, fast enough to keep up wth your thoughts. What you write may be rough, nonsensical, even off topic, but just get the words down. Get all your thoughts out. Trust me, some of them will be good.
Step 4 Edit
You’ve spent all that time prepping, and now it’s time for surgery. Go back and tweak, chop, hack, burn, add and remove words until you are left with something that gets your message across. You are looking for the same things you would if you were editing your novel or a research paper.
- sentence flow
- spelling and grammar errors
- relevancy (make sure everything contributes to the big picture)
Step 5 The final touches
This is like adding jewelry and accessories to your wardrobe.
- choose images (it’s google time!)
- assign a category
- don’t forget tags
- create links if you need them
Now you are ready to click publish. Don’t forget to share your post on twitter, Facebook, and other writing platforms that you have. Hopefully you found this helpful, and you don’t find yourself in a bind like I did. Follow the 5-step method and you’ll have a perfectly polished post by the day you need to publish it.