I found this video and thought it was pretty cool and potentially helpful to anyone who is trying to learn how to become a better writer (that’s all of us, right?).
This is a time lapsed video that bestselling writer Scott Berkun created to show how he writes a 1,000 word essay.
(You can make this video bigger by pressing the “full screen” icon in the bottom right corner of the screen):
There is a lot that we can learn from the habits of professional writers. In the video, there are some writing tricks that Scott mentions that are applicable for all writers, and then there are some things that he says that are not really applicable to writing free reprint articles.
Let’s sort these out:
1 – Keep a notebook with you all the time, and write down ideas that you hear or that you think of.
This is a great idea, and if you think keeping a notebook with you at all times has you thinking about writing too much, I challenge you to do it. When you start getting in the mindset of thinking about what you do on a daily basis in terms of articles and things that you can teach to people, you will have a much easier time coming up with writing ideas.
2 – Use those notes as an outline.
Yes, this is what I do too. Anything that helps us avoid having to start with a blank page is good. You can start your article with ideas already written down–these are just phrases that help you jump start your article. They also remind you of important concepts that you want to cover in the article. It’s basically an informal outline.
3 – Focus on flow of ideas and structure.
Good writing is not all about proper grammar and spelling. Those two things are important, but you can elevate your writing quality by also paying attention to how your ideas flow from one sentence to another, and how your concepts flow from one paragraph to the next. As Scott says, what makes good writing “good” is the flow between sentences, the flow between points and ideas. You need structure.
4 – We love headings!
Here is where the type of writing that Scott was doing differs from the articles we’re creating for free reprint article distribution. He says that headings (and sub-headings) are a crutch, and he only uses them as “scaffolding” to help him create the content of the article, but then he later removes them.
That is probably good advise for someone writing essays or offline books, but for article marketing purposes we deliberately try to include elements in our writing that make it easier for the reader to process the content. One of the ways to make your article easy to read is to include headings (or sub-headings), so you can ignore that part of the video (sorry Scott!) .
Other techniques for making your content easier to read is to include a numbered list and/or bullet points.
5 – There is a good amount of time spend sitting and thinking.
I’m so glad that he mentioned about the time spend thinking. If you’re not used to writing, you may be under the impression that your fingers are supposed to be clanking away on the keyboard constantly, but that’s actually not how it works. Writing requires a lot of thinking, and the quiet times, the times when you’re just sitting there looking at a half-written page, are when the article creation is taking place.
So, don’t be afraid to just sit and think–thinking is a natural part of writing.
6- If you get stumped, review your article from the beginning.
If you’ve written a bit and you feel like you’ve run into some mental quicksand, go back to the beginning of the document and start reading. Read through the article, and then by the time you reach the point where you had trouble before, you will likely have some new ideas.
I do a lot of writing, and I am always interested to see how other writers work their craft. It’s reassuring to hear a professional writer say that he gets stumped sometimes and that he isn’t constantly typing. It’s also helpful to see the writing process in action–remember, this is a process, and it takes time to evolve!
Did this video help you at all? I hope so!