How do I get started writing better long-form content?

Tweets are fine, but really what people want is long-form content. By that I mean, well-written and interesting articles, essays and blog posts that really dig down into issues and content.

So, assuming that you agree with this as the starting point the obvious question is this:

  • How are you going to get started writing long-form content?

I tackled this in some depth recently in a guest post on another website. And I’ve also written a series of posts here discussing:

I’m not going to repeat any of that here, but what I do want to do is share a couple of graphics that I’ve been working on that will eventually end up in my e-book on writing.

If you’ve been following this conversation on writing or you just want to improve your own writing, here are a three of visuals that help explain things.

How do you plan long-form essays, articles and blog posts?

Here’s the first graphic. Have a look and then read the very quick summary that follows.

  1. Use free writing. Doing 10 minutes of unfocused free writing is an easy way warm up, build the kinds of muscles you need for writing and unload random thoughts in your head that might be getting in the way of your ability to concentrate.
  2. Use mind mapping. If you don’t know what this is by now you should google it and have a look at some examples. Mind mapping is an excellent way to generate, categorise, organise, reorganise and order your ideas.
  3. Write an outline. For a piece of serious writing, it’s hard to go past a clear outline. The outline is your roadmap. Sticking to the roadmap means you won’t wander all over the place.

How do you write using both sides of your brain?

Next, it’s good to acknowledge that you need to engage both hemispheres of your brain when you write.

Now, in reality we all probably use both sides simultaneously but the fact that our brains are literally divided is an indication that there are some different functions we need to pay attention to.

I’m referring to your ability to concentrate on the creative part of your writing process versus the more analytical parts where you want to analyse, assess, edit and evaluate what you write.

Here’s the trick:

  • Stop trying to do these at the same time

Just pay attention to what you need to do. If you need to generate new content, then just write without editing or critiquing what you’re doing. Silence the “editing” voice in your neocortext.

Then, once you’ve generated some content, reengage that editing voice and let it do its job. But pay attention to what’s going on. If you need to generate more content, then switch it off again and be creative.

Learn to narrow your focus

Hopefully this one is self evident. Your writing needs to follow a pattern. One of the main patterns in any kind of long-form content is a movement from the general to the specific.

There are other patterns you can follow when writing but this one is a good default setting because not only can you apply it to the whole of your essay, but you can also apply it to your paragraphs.

Like your blog post or article, a good paragraph also often follows a pattern, and the movement from general to specific works here as well

If you found this interesting or useful, you can get my ebook here. If you get it now before I add a bunch more content like this, you’ll automatically get any future updates. You’ll also get it before I put the price up permanently.

If you’re more interested in the creative process you might also enjoy the article I wrote on how to become more savagely creative.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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