If you’re not naturally a writer and have to write for your business, it’s important to give yourself a fighting chance. As with any postponable task, the key is to break it into small manageable chunks that will systematically get you where you want to be.
Without context, that last statement gives even me, the horrors. Anyone who’s ever done a time management course is thinking “really?! That’s your best insight?” and who could blame them. So let me show you how to do it, with context and a genuine example.
Let’s look at writing a newsletter.
What on earth are you going to write about? Probably, because you knew it was coming up, you have a couple of ideas for some of the content. Maybe a link or two? Maybe an industry article? Maybe a thought about something a client said last week. All good. But it’s what you do next that matters most.
Do NOT be tempted to just start writing.
If you do, you will churn. By churn, I mean you will change sections around, write and rewrite the same article, ditch one idea for another, rewrite the headline seven times and still wind up dissatisfied.
STOP and decide what you want to achieve.
(I do hate to beat an old drum, but yes, that comes back to ‘the brief”, so if you haven’t already, download our free guide to giving good brief here.)
With your brief in hand, break your newsletter into sections where each section has a purpose or point to achieve. In my case, we have 6. Best research says 5-7 items is about as much as the brain can handle so we have 6 (and yes, these are the 6 topics most requested by clients).
Our highly technical chunking tool in action.
This is what the chunks look like:
1. The Writer’s Corner : how to write better
2. Across the Desk : insights into marketing best practice
3. Working It : how to work with a creative (writer / designer / etc…)
4. Inspiration : where to find it
5. The Naughty Step : things you should never do (and hilarious things others have done)
6. The Water Cooler : useful online resources for writing / SME marketing
So for me, I don’t write a newsletter per se, I write 6 mini-articles.
See the task is getting easier already!
Even then, I don’t write all 6 at once. I write one article, to purpose, until completion. Then it’s done. 5 to go. The task is getting smaller. Satisfaction all round. For this article I only had one purpose; to give you a useful tip on how to write better.
So if you are struggling with writing your newsletter this month, stop.
Take 10 – 15 minutes to work out the main sections of your newsletter. Give each section a section title and a section purpose. You only have to do this once. The next newsletter will use the same sections and same purposes (until you want to retire or renew them).
Now pick one section. Go back to your ideas (links, industry stories, client’s comments) and find one that fits your purpose. Do not change topic. Do not change purpose. Just get the words down for that section and once you’ve finished the article, check your grammar and spelling, and only then give it a title.
There you go. It really can be that easy.
And as you get better at chunking instead of churning, those articles will start to roll off your fingers with ease.
Post your comments below. Meantime happy writing!