Confidence. Consistency. Productivity.
These are just few benefits of instilling repeatable procedures in your writing process -- whether you're crafting an article, white paper, press release or even website copy.
So, over the last several years, I've developed and honed a writing system that has helped me to push through procrastination to write more prolifically and effectively for clients. Try it and see how this 29-Step Process can work for you.
Phase 1: Scope
1. Confirm project objectives, audience, angle, requirements/ specifications, deadline.
2. Conduct initial research to gain enough understanding of topic to determine precisely what research I need to complete project.
3. During initial research, craft questions the content should answer for readers.
4. If necessary, identify potential interview sources.
5. Contact potential sources to schedule interviews.
Phase 2: Research
6. Research topic, including competitive analysis, via Internet and other sources.
7. Complete any scheduled interviews.
8. Create interview index for all interviews, identifying only the most salient sections to transcribe.
9. Transcribe marked section in interview index.
10. Identify and obtain any additional research I may need to begin the drafting process.
Phase 3: Structure
11. Read through research/ transcripts and begin notating the "big ideas" on the mind map.
12. If necessary, look up any additional research/ stats to strengthen the article, fill in gaps.
13. Complete lede development questionnaire. (Stay tuned. Will share in upcoming post.)
15. Begin arranging and organizing the big ideas into an actual mind map.
16. Convert the mind map into an outline and prep for Draft #1.
Phase 4: Draft #1
17. "Pour" research into appropriate sections in the outline.
18. Record myself speaking the first draft in Evernote, as if I were giving a presentation. This helps me get the orginal content out quicker.
19. Transcribe draft.
Phase 5: Draft #2
20. Pick any section to start.
21. Consolidate, pare-down quotes/research that is not absolutely relevant.
22. Keep moving. If stumped, skip to another section.
Draft is still "rough," but it has clear shape and direction, ready to be smoothed.
Phase 6: Draft #3
23. Start with the lede and edit one section, at-a-time, in sequence.
24. Smooth rough areas, correct any grammar/ stylistic issues.
25. Complete fact-checking, fill-in any blanks.
Draft is solid, but needs one more review for polish and style and to be fact-checked.
Phase #7: Draft #4
26. Look for any remaining "rough patches" and polish them.
27. Trim the fat.
28. Tighten grammar.
29. Use 3 C's Checklist to ensure article is "client-ready":
a. Clear: Easily understood
b. Compelling: Having a powerful and irresistible effect.
c. Concise: Succinct; expressing much in few words.
About the Author: Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC (www.lydencommunications.com), a business communication consulting firm that helps companies develop messaging designed to engage, inspire, persuade and sell. Practice areas include content & editorial strategy, sales strategy & coaching, and leadership communication. A feature writer for several automotive and trucking trade publications, Sean is also co-author of “How to Succeed and Make Money on Your First Rental House” (John Wiley & Sons) and contributor to "The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide” and “The Great Big Book of Business Lists,” both books published by Entrepreneur Press.
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