Blog writing isn’t the easiest of things to master. It’s a process of learning that is continual – it never ends. Just when you think your writing is better, someone will come along with several more suggestions to improve it further. This isn’t such a bad thing.
Take me for example. My writing is far from perfect, especially here on my own blog where I only have myself to answer to. There’s many a post I’ve had to go back through and edit several times to polish it up. There’s always a sentence I can shorten or a paragraph to clean up.
Like I said, it’s a continual learning process, but the process doesn’t have to be a difficult one.
I’ve picked up a few things along the way, that makes my writing quicker. They may not be to everyone’s liking but for me they work, so today I’m going to share them with you too. Read on to discover the tips and tools I use to write better, faster and cleaner.
Plan Your Blog Posts
Every post I write starts with a plan. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hastily scribbled list or a full run down of every detail. Having a plan helps me keep my thoughts in order and guides the direction my post will take.
Have you ever begun writing a blog post randomly as a thought comes to you? If you have, the chances are you probably wrote off on a completely different tangent. You’re not alone, I’ve done it so many times and at the end, I’ve had to do lots of editing to make the post succinct.
Writing a plan helps you avoid this, by having your ideas all in one place. Here’s a few things you might want to include in your post plan:
- Title suggestions
- Bullets of the post’s main points
- Keywords to research
- Estimated date or time of publication
- What category and tags you’ll include
- Image ideas
Set Yourself A Time Limit
I tend to find I write a lot better if I know I have a deadline to stick to. The sense of urgency a time limit creates, helps your brain to focus much quicker than it would if you’re left with an indefinite deadline.
One way I set myself time limits is by using a popular productivity technique called Pomodoro. This works on the idea that you commit to 25 minutes of solid working time, followed by 5 minutes of rest. You set a timer, work (or in our case write) and then when the timer ends you down tools. You could be in the middle of a paragraph, a sentence, a word – it doesn’t matter. You stop what you’re doing, get up and do something different.
What I’ve found the Pomodoro technique does, is it prevents you from getting to the point of burnout. I’ve been in situations where I’ve written for 5 hours straight (aside from toilet breaks) and believe me, burnout is an understatement. It’s exhausting.
Writing in shorter, snappier bursts gives your brain more time to refresh and recuperate. Oh and eat too. That’s usually helpful! Check out the Timout Chrome extension – I use this to set my own timers.
Remove Annoying Distractions
Ahh procrastination. We’re all guilty of it and usually it’s difficult to escape.
If you find yourself regularly dipping into Facebook, Twitter and browsing shiny things on Pinterest, then at least you don’t have to be distracted in WordPress. There’s a very underused feature in WordPress’s post editor that instantly takes away the dashboard fluff, leaving you with a clean, blank canvas.
What I’m talking about is the distraction free writing button. When you’re in the process of writing a post, if you look to the top right corner of your post editor beneath the “Text” tab, you’ll notice a small square with arrows coming out of each corner. Click this button and your dashboard will disappear completely. This leaves you free to write with no distractions whatsoever.
Now you might be thinking I should use Google Docs or Microsoft Word. I did at one point – that was until I got tired of having to reformat everything after pasting it into WordPress.
Using the WordPress distraction free writing button, means I don’t have to do that. This saves a huge amount of time copying and pasting and improves productivity!
Create A Working Title
Have you ever noticed that when you have a good post title, a blog post tends to write itself?
If you haven’t, try it. Get a good working title down describing your post. You can change it after if needed, just write one down instead of having nothing.
I’ve found doing this is another way of collecting my thoughts. It reaffirms to me what I’m writing about, leading my train of thought towards the right direction.
If I leave the title blank, it has the opposite effect. My mind wavers and I can’t quite get my brain working enough. Having a title up there is also a great point of focus should I go off on a tangent. I can easily scroll up to get myself back on topic.
If you’re struggling to come up with a good post title, why not take a look at the free Tweak Your Biz Title Generator. You don’t have to use the exact titles it suggests. What it will do however, is give you some excellent headlines to work with.
Write The Middle First
You know when you were at school and you were taught to write a story with a beginning, middle and end? Well, heed that advice – it’s good! What you can also do is mix it up a bit.
A good blog post will have an introduction highlighting what readers are going to learn about. A middle where the bulk of your post is and where you make your point, and a conclusion, where you wrap things up. These are pretty basic ingredients but what they might not have told you at school, is that you don’t have to write each one in order.
I personally write the main bulk of my blog posts first. Separated with headings, I get to my point and make it. Once I’ve finished, only then will I go back and create my introduction and conclusion. I do this because it’s difficult to know precisely what you’ll write about, until it’s written. You might come up with a brain-wave or some insight you think needs adding.
Leaving your intro and conclusion until last, will ensure you include all of the important bits.
Proofread Your Post With Hemingway
Hemingway is a nifty little tool you can use when you’ve finished writing your blog post.
Simply head to hemingwayapp.com and paste your text into the box provided. The editor will proofread your writing and provide suggestions on how you can make it more readable, by highlighting sections of your text with a corresponding colour.
The app is free and also has a desktop version if you prefer writing while you’re offline – something else you can do to get rid of distractions!
What are you waiting for? Start planning those blog posts and polishing those words. Use the tools in this post to help make the process easier and become an even better writer. What are your best writing tips? Share them in the comments, I can’t wait to read them!