Creativity on Demand
If you’re responsible for writing web content, you’ve no doubt stared at a blank page… stuck with writer’s block. In this post I’ll share a few words of wisdom that I’ve learned over the years. These tips were shaped by consistently writing for a thrice-weekly blog as well as for on-demand client content.
Advice for Writing Web Content
Let’s face it. Writing can be painfully exhilarating. One moment you can be in utter despair, grasping for a good idea. Then, you’ve got a kernel of an idea you can’t wait to get down on paper (or a blank WordPress page) and your thoughts are tripping over your fingers. This advice is to help develop a consistent writing practice.
1. Know When You’re Most Creative
Are you a night owl? Or, do you write best in the morning? I’ve found that writing for the Web (or any content for that matter) is best left for the early hours of the day. The phone isn’t ringing off the hook, and folks are still sipping their java reading their emails. Tell your co-workers your prime writing hours and ask them to leave you alone. Nicely, of course.
2. Schedule Writing Time
In an ideal world you can set a regular time each day for writing web content. Now that you know when your most productive writing time is during the day, put it on your calendar. Not only is it a signal to you… it will remind others you shouldn’t be disturbed.
Organize your thoughts by using outlines or other methods. I use a combo of Google Docs as drafts of pages or posts. This is where I collect phrases, snippets, links and other things I’ll need to have handy when writing web content. That way when I sit down to crank it out, everything is at my fingertips… literally. Outlines can literally save you hours of painful rewrites.
4. Train Your Brain
Creative discipline requires tapping into the power of your brain. Like baseball players, some writers are superstitious. They wear the same article of clothing or sit at a favorite café whenever they write. By using an anchor, your brain will associate it with writing. For example, I have a specific Pandora station I listen to when writing. When I hear it, I’m able to focus. Distractions fade away and I’m alone with my thoughts.
5. Set a Timer
Most likely you don’t have the luxury of a full day where you can devote to writing web content. Set aside a realistic timeframe where you can write undisturbed. If you have a tendency to lose track of time, a timer may be useful.
6. No Editing While Creating
The creative process uses a different side of your brain than editing. Try to keep writing web content separate from editing and refining your copy. You’ll find that editing will break your flow of ideas. Same goes for optimizing. Leave it for last, or you’ll drive yourself crazy.
7. Use Sources of Inspiration
Have a ready list of places where you can troll for inspiration. This is a must for writing web content. I use Feedly because it allows me to organize sources by topic and/or client. Then, schedule a bit of time each day or week to review. If you’re also responsible for content curation, a tool like Feedly or other RSS reader will make sharing relevant and related tidbits easier.
A Confession & Bonus
Now that I’ve shared my top 7 tips for writing web content I have a confession. Sometimes… even when I follow my advice… there are times when the words won’t flow. When it happens, I take a break. Play Words with Friends. Go for a walk. Do something away from the keyboard. Ok, here’s my last piece of advice: writing for Web is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t get it all done in one sitting. It will evolve over time. Enjoy the journey.
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