Writers and would-be-writers have looked for ways to speed up writing for centuries. Long before someone declared “content is king” on the Internet, there were books that advised writers how to produce more books, essays, pamphlets or news stories and do so quickly. Some of those ways still apply today.
But, we have a great deal more assets to improve our writing speed and productivity, as well as a great deal more to write about. Here’s my top 10 list of the fastest, easiest ways to write our blog posts, articles, books and ebooks.
And although there’s much more to content creation as a topic, in this article we’re going to focus on written content.
Please note this, however: This article is about writing faster and more easily while still maintaining quality standards. You won’t find anything about spinners, automated aggregators or automated content curation. I encourage you to write well and constantly improve your writing skills. I encourage you to do your own unique writing — or, in some cases, re-writing.
I think using templates is the fastest way to create almost any content. And most particularly, written content. Templates give you an organized structure. They can provide a re-usable stylistic approach to the kind of article you are writing. They can offer a slant, a point of view for your approach to a particular topic. If they have a layout built in, they can help you visualize what the end result will look like.
A very good template can serve as a “fill-in-the-blank” document that practically writes the article or book chapter for you.
A great place to get article templates is EZine Articles — ezinearticles.com. They have a suggested format/layout as well as an angle of approach to specific topics. (And if you are doing article marketing, they’re the premier site to submit articles.)
Whether you dictate to a person or tape or by using dictation software, you will find common requirements: your speed and pacing must match the capabilities of the person or software doing the recording and/or typing of the recording. That is, you must learn to be a good dictator.
Dictation is entirely different from talking or lecturing. You must speak clearly. You must be able to judge the pace the person or software can tolerate. You must remember to give gramatical, punctuation and style instructions. For example, when you finish a sentence, you must say “period.” When you finish a paragraph, you must say “new paragraph.”
There is a learning curve to dictation, just like any other skill. But once you know how to do it, you can write really fast. Really, really fast.
Remember this: if you have a problem with getting back garbage rather than the wonderful ideas you thought you were dictating, the problem is more likely with you than with your secretary, transcriber or software.
Nuance.com offers dictation software for both PC and Mac. It’s very good. I’ve personally used both versions.
3. List Articles
List articles are exactly what the name suggests. They are lists of x number of people, places, things, ideas, etc., with a description of what they are and why they belong on the list. They can be of any size. Each item can be of any number of words or paragraphs. They can fill books or a 250 word blog post. You begin with an introductory paragraph, provide a numbered list of the items you’re covering in your topic, and end with a concluding paragraph and/or call to action. You can write them directly into a word processor; you can dictate them; you can curate the items in your list. You can make a list article using any combination of the methods I suggest in this article and others I don’t mention here.
I’ve already said that using templates is the fastest method for producing content. And because lists are templates in and of themselves, list articles are the fastest type of articles/posts to write. They are also the most popular with readers. They are the easiest to read. They are the most likely to go viral. Bar none. And although you can’t publish every article as a list article, you can write every article as a list article and reformat it to appear as a different style.
4. PLR Rewriting
Yes, it’s possible to get decent private label rights materials. But no matter how well done they are, they’re pretty generic. So, you’ll have to rewrite them for that reason alone. The other basic reason you’ll have to rewrite them is that it will make your articles or other documents unique. Otherwise, you might have problems with the search engines, which don’t “like” seeing the same content on several sites.
One of the good sites to look into for PLR is easyplr.com and they have a nice article recommending reputable PLR sites http://www.easyplr.com/bestplr.htm.
5. Public Domain Rewriting
For “evergreen” topics, there’s nothing like the public domain for getting material you can publish without payment or permission. But, with the older material, you’ll have to rewrite just because older writing styles are so stiff and awkward. And, of course, a great number of ideas or things thought to be fact, are wrong or just out of date.
With newer material, you’ll need to rewrite in order to update it as well. Much of the post-1922 public domain, especially material from the 50’s and 60’s, cover ideas that were the groundwork for what we know today, but were just the beginning of the knowledge we have now.
6. Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are idea starters for both fiction and non-fiction. They may be as simple as “finish this sentence” or as complicated as describing an intricate scenario.
They are meant to spark you into writing by defeating the “blank page” syndrome. You don’t have to figure out what comes first, it’s already been provided. You just have to figure out what comes next.
They may be headline topic specific, such as “On Making Apologies for Oneself.” They may simply ask for a sentence or paragraph that can be inserted in many primary topics, such as “describe a rock covered with ice.” Whatever the form you find them in, you can discover free writing prompts all over the internet. Just search for them.
7. Article Starters (or Chapter Starters)
Article and chapter starters are sort of pre-written outlines or points lists that let you fill-in-the-blank with content. They are a form of writing prompts, but with more structure. They are a form of outline template, but very topic-specific. Maybe they belong under the topic of templates, but they are available commercially under the description of “article starters,” so I’m treating them as a separate category.
I first heard about these as PLR publications from Peggy Baron http://www.peggybaron.com/blog/. She has a PLR site and another site dedicated to the article starters: http://easyarticlestarters.com/. Take a look at the article starters site to get a good idea of how they work. You can get some from her, or you can take the idea and make your own. A generalized template for a list article would be a good foundation for an article starter.
Describing how to do interviewing sometimes takes longer than actually performing the work of interviewing. As the writer, your job is to ask the questions. Most of the content is provided by the interviewee. (Which also means that you’d better get it in writing that the interviewee is giving you at least editorial and reproduction rights to the answers, if not the copyright. Often both parties publish the interviews. But structuring rights is a subject you’ll have to ask your attorney about.)
You can do interviewing in person or at a distance. Orally or in writing. Personally write the questions and/or tape them.
If you submit a list of questions in writing and have the interviewee return the answers in writing, you save a lot of time and the trouble of making a transcript.
If you do the interview in person or on the phone (or Skype) and tape it, you’ll get a far more personal and social “feel” to the interview, even in the transcript you’ll make. Furthermore, you can publish the interview in writing, as an audio, and as a video with the audio timed to slides.
And, you can always make a video interview directly, then spin off audio and transcript. A live-recorded video can be the most compelling format, but right now I’m just covering written content development.
9. Mind mapping
Mind mapping — a visual graphing of a thought process, using a branching tree structure — was introduced using that name by Tony Buzan. And it’s his trademark for some uses. However, the process has been around for centuries and has been adapted from “radial diagram,” “idea sunbursting,” “spider diagrams,” “concept maps,” and other methods that are similar.
Whatever you call it, you start by putting a word, idea or object in a central position on a page and allow your various thoughts about it to surround it, connecting them by lines, arrows or more litteral drawings of tree limbs. Thus, the thoughts, connected ideas, or analyses become “branches” of whatever is in the center. Each “branch” can have its own “branches.”
The process helps you analyze the topic of your writing and organize your thoughts logically around it.
Content curation is a practice of developing articles or blog posts by aggregating several articles/posts on a specific topic from other blogs or websites and tying them together in a logical order expressing your own theme. Some curators also curate the accompanying media, such as photos and videos. Some curators also scrub the articles’ links and references.
Content curation is considerably faster than trying to write a complete comprehensive article on a subject. In fact, in most cases, you can cover a great deal more of a topic using your own ideas on the subject combined with curated posts from other writers. You simply have to be careful to take only a “fair use” amount from any other writers. And you must make sure to curate other media that permits reposting.
Using “content curation” is still a bit controversial. There are a great number of risks involved — both legal risks and risks to your reputation as a writer. Yet there are quite a number of reputable curators who are doing quite well with the process.
Now you have a list of the top ten techniques you can use to produce articles and posts faster. Sometimes quite a bit faster.
Did any of them intrigue you? Go find out more about them and give them a try.
Soon, I’ll be writing individual posts or articles about some of these techniques in more depth.
And I’ll have some tools for you to start using the techniques. Tools like article templates.
Stay tuned to this website to learn more.