Writing is a critical skill for marketers, especially for those in businesses pursuing content marketing strategies. But it’s only part of the job, easily overshadowed by the constant distractions of the open office, the immediate gratification of social media and online analytics, and interruptions of always-on connectivity.
Pressed to create more and better content, how can marketers increase their writing productivity?
That was the topic of a conversation I had recently with Linda Popky on her Marketing Thought Leadership podcast.
Linda knows a thing or two about both marketing and writing. She wrote the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters. (See my review here.) It’s filled with terrific marketing advice.
But we kept the conversation on the topic of writing and the specific challenges faced by writers in the marketing domain.
Here’s one piece of advice from our discussion.
Divide and Conquer
Most of us imagine that we should be able to sit down and write something brilliant. We get inspired by the Nike motto and think that we’ll just do it. This temptation is especially strong for short pieces, like a 200-word product description or an email to a partner. How hard can it be?
When we attempt to toss it off, nothing brilliant comes out. We may think, “Heck, I’ll do this later and walk away.” Worse, we write something mediocre, then beat ourselves up for being uncreative hacks or uninspired marketers.
But the writing process goes far beyond the act of drafting. It has many steps, and we ignore them at our peril. Drafting is just the midpoint in a much longer journey, with research and thought ahead of it and revision after it.
Each phase invokes different processes in our brains.
If you want to be more productive, speed up by slowing down. Divide the work into its component parts.
Don’t press yourself to write the everything at once. Instead, make yourself take the first steps through researching and freewriting. Then set aside time to return to the project and outline it. Next, write the first draft, leaving time for incubation and several phases of revision.
Divide into work into steps and so you’re doing one thing at a time. You’ll bring the right type of attention and focus to each step, and the whole process will go much more smoothly.
Understanding and having faith in the process is really the key to writing more and better work, with less frustration.
Listen to the podcast below or on the podcast website. Be sure to check out the other interviews with Linda.