Content marketing requires writing content. Even if the content is a small video with no words on the screen, there will still be an outline, if not a full script. However, writing has an inertia problem. You will never start writing—until you start. This inertia comes in two layers. The first layer is just getting yourself to the point where you take a deep breath and sit down to work. This happens with any kind of project, and it is a topic unto itself. The second layer is specific to writing, and that is what I am going to talk about in this blog post. The cliché of staring at a blank page for hours. Spending a whole morning finding the opening sentence, then getting that sentence right. Beginning may be the hardest part of writing, and it certainly wastes precious time.
How do you minimize the time you waste trying to get started? A simple and easy way is to “just write.” Commit to putting down a sentence or two, even if it’s an unusable cliché like, “SEO is very important in online marketing.” The two sentences you write will not be good. You will likely delete those sentences in two minutes. (But it beats waiting for an hour for a really good sentence.) So just write something, so you have something to work with. You can repeat this every time you are stuck at a new section, or a new paragraph. This approach is also great when you know what things to say, but cannot decide on the order in which to say them.
The trick of “just write something” has two big benefits: One, you are now working from those one or two bad sentences, not a blank page. Two, your brain is now in working mode, and not in “wanting to work” mode. You are one step closer to a state of flow, and I highly recommend a state of flow for quality writing.
This is a seed. It is not haphazard writing.
Good writing is planned. “Just write something” is like pushing a car that won’t start. As soon as you get going, you have to jump back in the driver’s seat and take control. But applying the “just write” approach is not good for deciding how to present your ideas, or organize your content.
Or could it be?
The first step in writing is planning. Maybe you think you don’t plan your writing, but when you are thinking about what to write, that’s (poor) planning. Planning is another stage where you probably waste time, especially if you are only doing it in your head. You should write an outline first—It makes your writing faster, and your content more focused. However, you can have writer’s block with an outline, too. After all, it isn’t easy to just take a blank page and put down the entire skeleton for a written piece. Again, just write. Put down the first few sections that are in your mind, in whatever order they first came to you. You will be refining them within one minute—And now you have started. The next thing you know, you will be ready to write the piece you just outlined.
And please, don’t just stare at a blank page when that moment comes. Just write something.
Putting it into practice
You may have heard this advice before, or even realized it on your own. So why did I write this blog post, and why have you read it? What this post offers is a concrete way of putting the “just start writing” trick into practice.
- Do plan your writing, with at least an outline.
- Don’t stare at a blank page. Just start writing your outline.
- Now refine it.
- It’s time to write. Just put something on that blank page.
- Now, fix what you wrote. You have gotten started!
And on that note, let me spell out the big secret:
The starting point is never a blank page. There are always a few sentences waiting on the page when you start.