You’ve brainstormed a couple of topics, you like the topics you have, you’ve even downed one (or three) coffees.
Yet here we are, staring at a big blank page.
The flicking cursor sits at the top of the page, blinking at you. It’s almost insulting!
If this sounds like you, then you’ve probably forgotten one crucial part of the writing process…planning!
You don’t build a house without plans. You don’t cook a meal for the first time without a recipe.
Honestly, you can’t write an article without a plan.
One of the toughest obstacles in article writing is actually starting the article writing process.
Trust me, I know.
I’ve written thousands of pieces and you’d be surprised to know how many hours I’ve spent sitting looking at a blank screen.
But if I look back at all the articles I’ve written that took me forever to start, they all have one thing in common.
I didn’t plan my attack. I didn’t create an article outline.
Creating an outline is one of the best methods to use when writing an article. Having an outline provides a foundation for your article.
In other words, an outline gives you a starting point from which you can build into a story.
An outline will make the article writing process easier and faster, and below I’ll show you the steps to building an outline and getting that first draft on paper.
Brainstorm your article ideas
To start off your outline, brainstorm and jot down your ideas.
What do you want the article to say?
Who do you want to read it?
Set aside 15 minutes to just write freely. Don’t worry too much about the structure, just get something on paper or your preferred word processer.
Think of some ideas you would like to cover and supporting points for that idea.
Review your notes and start to organise your outline.
If you’re struggling to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, get out your phone, open a voice recording app and start speaking instead. You might find this is an easy way to get started.
There are some great voice recording apps with really handy transcription services, such as Google’s Recorder app.
I conduct a lot of interviews and I’ve found it a pretty accurate transcription tool (although it can struggle with the Australian accent at times).
If jotting down notes doesn’t work for you, this is a great way to get the ball rolling instead.
Organising the Outline
When you organise your outline, identify and ensure you have complete clarity on the purpose of the article.
It might help to consider the types of article you are going to write.
- List: 5 ways to save tax
- Curated Collection: Five great software options to help you prepare for tax time
- Case Study: How we helped our client save 10% on his tax bill!
- SlideShare Presentation: 5 types of tax reductions you may not know about
- News Piece: New study shows X% of people don’t properly file their taxes
The purpose of the article should help you figure out the introduction of your article.
Then identify the key points of your article.
Under each key point, you want to establish what you’re going to say about that key point and how you are going to support your stance.
As you come up with more supporting material your outline will build and you’ll have an expectation of the length of the article.
After this process, you should have an outline of all of your paragraphs (i.e. the body of the article).
You now need to outline a conclusion.
The conclusion outline should be similar to the introduction of the outline and supportive of all the main points of the outline.
Most importantly, when it comes to producing an article outline, find the style that works for you.
For instance, you might start with the body of your article first, instead of the conclusion. Some people find it easier to work out what is going in the body of their article first and then completing their introductions and conclusions after that.
However you do it, at the end of this process, you’ll want an outline that looks something like this…
Introduction (2-3 sentences)
Key Point 1
Key Point 2
Key Point 3
Conclusion (2-3 sentences)
Create the First Draft
Now that you’ve got a skeleton, you can start adding some meat to the bones of your article.
Just like when you did your brainstorming, this is your chance to just start writing.
Don’t worry about perfection. You can clean it up later.
Just work through your article bit by bit until you hit the conclusion!
If you ever get lost, just refer back to your outline and reset.
The great thing about committing to the outline first in the manner set out above is that it actually starts the writing process.
That way, when you get to this part of writing up your first draft, you’re not starting from a blank piece of paper.
This process might seem cumbersome at first, but trust me, once you get into the swing of things and mould the process to your writing style.
Still need help? Content Hype is here
Sometimes, it’s more than just writer’s block that kills our momentum when it comes to implementing marketing strategies.
Business owners are often time-poor, under pressure or simply too invested in their work to view it from a far enough distance to appreciate the story-telling or content-creation opportunities that exist.
Whether you need help with strategising what to write about, managing the flow of the content you’ve already produced, or simply getting the content written, Content Hype can help.
Fill out the form below to get started and arrange an obligation-free chat about your marketing strategy.