Advice on writing from 4,700 articles, 24 years of journalism


The type of blog posts, white papers, and articles that will attract and engage potential customers for your business is often the result of a process.

There is certainly a level of creativity in everything that is written. But for content marketing, that creativity often feels like the work of a prime contractor who carefully frames and finishes a house, one step at a time.

Typically, the act of writing a blog post or article looks like this:

  • Brainstorm on topics,
  • Do some research,
  • Find an interesting angle,
  • Write a draft,
  • Rewrite the draft,
  • Edit,
  • Publish.

Each writer will go through these phases more or less systematically. This process or workflow will vary not only from writer to writer, but also from article to article. Sometimes in-depth research is needed. On other occasions, what is required is rewriting and editing a few revisions.

While a lot can be said about the writing process, in this article I’ll share five tips from my own experience as a writer. These tips (or habits or trends) that I have developed from more than 24 years of journalism and (in February 2020) from more than 4,700 published and signed articles.

Maybe at least one of these tips will help.

1. Listen and read more

Listening and reading are the first acts of writing. These are the behaviors that will help you identify topics and angles.

Your listening and reading can take many forms. For example, you can listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or even conversations in a meeting you attended. You can read books, magazine articles, or tutorials.

Each of these sources adds to your knowledge and could help you generate ideas for your next article.

As an example, I wrote an article in January 2020 that was the direct result of a conversation. The article focused on the essential tasks of a new marketing manager.

A woman raised the issue in an informal conversation. Her company had recently hired a new marketing manager and she wondered why he wasn’t buying more advertising. The company wanted to increase sales, but instead of investing in pay-per-click ads, the guy was asking a lot of questions.

Listening and participating in the conversation helped me realize that many smart business people, like my friend, don’t always understand the marketing process or its tasks.

2. Talk to yourself

Recently I “wrote” the beginning of an article on first party logistics while driving.

I had chosen the subject. I had exchanged e-mails with a few sources. I had a pretty good idea of ​​what I wanted to write. But just as I was starting to compose, I went to see a client.

I had about 40 minutes away, so I spoke about my article. I had read the lede paragraph a few times when I came to a red light and quickly recorded it on my cell phone.

Recording a paragraph or two isn’t the only time I speak or speak. I often read aloud to myself what I write.

Reading a draft out loud helps me spot grammar and word choice errors. And it also helps me communicate ideas.

Try to read your next article like an actor might read a script. How do the words sound? How is the subject conveyed?

3. Ruminate

There is a memorable scene in the 2019 movie “Ford vs. Ferrari”. The scene begins approximately eight minutes after the start of the film as the characters are introduced.

Tracy Letts plays Henry Ford II in the movie “Ford vs. Ferrari”.

Actor Tracy Letts, who plays Henry Ford II, takes a dominant position on the Ford production line and orders production to stop. The machines whirl until silence.

” Take that ? Said Henry Ford II of Letts. “It’s the rumor of the Ford Motor Company going bankrupt.”

“In 1899 my grandfather, Henry ‘By God’ Ford, was walking home from Edison Illumination after working twice. He was brooding. That morning he himself had an idea that changed the world.

In the film, Ford berates his workers and sets the stage for the story to come. Looking at him, I was moved by the word “ruminate”. It’s the idea of ​​thinking deeply about something. And that’s what I try to do for my writing and my other work.

For example, I ruminated on these five tips while shopping at Albertson’s, a local grocery store. For the casual viewer, I walked the aisles to buy bottled water, vegetables, and some frozen meals from Amy. But inside, I was thinking about what allows me to write.

Try to ruminate on your articles.

4. If in doubt, type

Don’t brood forever. Thinking deeply about yourself is essential, but it must end. At some point you need to start writing.

There have been many times that I have been stuck – not knowing how to broach a subject. The solution evolved as I started to write.

For me that means opening a new Google Doc, giving the article a working title, and starting typing. Sometimes I end up with something different from what I had originally planned. But it was the act of writing, forcing my fingers to hit the keys, that helped me gain the necessary momentum.

5. Continue

My fifth and final piece of advice is to move on. Drop it.

Writing a review or two for each of your content marketing articles is a good practice. But perfection, in my experience, is unattainable. So I often force myself to stop rewriting and move on.

Going forward can produce a sense of completion. This allows you to create more content overall.

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