Writing is an art, not a science. We remember that all too well when the time comes to sit down and write. It seems the writing process is full of challenges that never seem to go away. We’ve all wished at some point for a secret formula to help us overcome them! Well keep on reading and I’ll share strategies on how to overcome some of the biggest challenges in your writing process: procrastination and writing original content.
It seems that we’re always pressed for time to write. Distractions are abound, and we let the clock tick towards an approaching deadline. We’re often left stressed and with the knowledge of how poorly we managed our time. The key to overcoming procrastination comes from understanding your particular routines.
Settle into a routine. Producing content gets a lot easier if knowing you’ll be sitting at your laptop for 3 hours every morning. Keep in mind that everyone is different: some will be most productive at dawn, while others will churn out content at midnight. Every writer also has a location that’s best suited for writing. For some it’s the local coffee shop; for others, it’s the desk in the living room corner. Identify your ideal spot, then commit yourself to writing there every day.
Eliminate all distractions. We’re all connected to the world via our phones and laptops. While the internet is great for research, this unlimited access can lead to an endless cycle of checking emails and social media accounts. Try spending the first five minutes of a new hour checking everything you want. Once time is up, close everything and focus on writing until the top of the next hour. Not only are breaks vital for maintaining productivity, but this sets up a system to reward you for your hour of focus.
Suggested tool: FocusWriter. Overcoming procrastination and distractions is easier said than done. I recommend using FocusWriter, a simple word processor and background that hides everything else on your laptop. Features include a timer, customizable themes and spell-check. FocusWriter is available for Linux, Mac and Windows, so there’s no reason to not give it a try.
Writing Original Content
You have a great idea for a topic. You run to your computer and start typing away. Then you open up a browser to do a fact check. Not only are the top results covering your exact topic, but they even have your chosen title! It’s disheartening when your perfect topic has been covered many times. Nevertheless, you can tackle this problem with a little originality.
Find a new angle. On the surface, it might seem your topic has been discussed ad nauseam. Nevertheless, try reading through a few posts and see what’s actually covered. You might discover a new angle or unexamined argument. This will help you jump back into your topic with the same motivation you started with.
Update older content. In our world of trending topics and 24-hours news, posts from even a year ago can feel outdated. Try looking for the latest news on your subject. There may be a new development or story to use as a jumping point for your piece. Even if there isn’t much new, this research likely helped you identify a new angle for your piece.
Suggested tool: Buzzsumo. This site helps writers identify popular content about a particular topic. You start by typing in a keyword, and filters allow you to narrow for a specific date or content type (e.g. articles, videos). The top results are among the most shared on your topic. This is great to find what’s trending on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Try reading through the top results to see how you can put a new spin on your piece.
More often than not, we tend to look at our assignments as a whole and get overwhelmed. Yet with some pre-planning and an understanding of your own pitfalls, the process becomes easier, and you’ll be back to enjoying the writing life.
What are the biggest problems in your writing process? How do you overcome them? Share them with us in the comments below!
About the guest contributor: Carlo is a freelance writer specializing in web content and social media. His previous experience has covered many industries including construction, drilling and home improvement. An avid gamer, Carlo's features have appeared in Hardcore Gamer and OnlySP. You can follow him on Twitter @CarloT3Content or visit his site carlothomascontent.com