Writing is an art form, but it can also be considered a science. When writing for business this is particularly true. There are formulas to follow and disciplines to adhere to in order to create the best communication piece possible.
Knowing your audience, grammar, tenses, purpose, plot development, features-advantages-benefits and that sort of thing, are all incredibly important when communicating your value to potential clients. Crafting a good piece of writing requires technique and is essential to getting cut-through and recall. (Side note: You don’t have to write scientifically, or without feeling or personality, to follow these formulas). There is another super important writing discipline however, and that is the art of mastering TIME. It’s a bit like making money – you need to invest to get a return. Spending time writing every single day will not only improve your writing, but will improve your mindset toward writing – which will ultimately result in better writing.
I ran a straw poll about 6 months ago, as I was curious about the key frustrations business owners have when it comes to content development. I had my suspicions but I always like to check in and have them confirmed.
77% of respondents said FINDING THE TIME TO WRITE was their biggest challenge.
How many of you have said: “Yup, I need a blog on my website because I have so much to say about what I do…I’m going to write something every week…I’m going to post to Facebook three times per day….” and never do?
Regardless of whether you have lofty ambitions as a novelist, or you have a great idea for an online course, or you just want to be able to keep in touch with your fans by banging out a couple of business blogs and social media posts, you need to structure your week to factor in some quiet writing time.
I know you have ‘reasons’ why you haven’t done this before: I’m too busy; I’m burned out; I’m away too much; I don’t know what to say today; I don’t feel motivated today; I spend too much time in front of the computer already; It never sounds quite right; I should be doing money-making activities; It’s too noisy today; It’s too quiet today…
(I can feel you nodding now….!)
But excuses are just that. Lame reasons for not doing the thing you know you ought to be doing. And whilst writing a novel may be considered an indulgent past time (except if you’re a published author with an agent breathing down your neck for the next book!), writing for your business is not indulgent. It is a requirement.
Writing for your business should not be considered a luxury…it’s a necessity.
I hear business owners constantly talk about wanting respect and recognition in their field of expertise. They want to be considered a ‘person of influence.’ And yet they wonder why their competitors are asked for comments or interviews and not them. Well, it’s because they’re not out there. They’re not spreading their word and knowledge wide enough. They’re not vocal enough. They’re not being seen enough.
There is SOOO much noise out there in business land. Everyone is an entrepreneur. Everyone is fighting for a slice of the pie. The only way to really ‘make it’ is to be bloody good at what you do (that’s a given) and to tell people about how bloody good you are at what you do (with grace and professionalism not arrogance!).
Creating and publishing valuable content is the way to do that. Writing stuff about something that you know about. Making it your own. Then sending it out to the world to add value to someone else’s life. It’s the only way to start being perceived as an authority in your space.
I know that time has been one of my biggest hurdles too, (although I do desperately try to walk my talk on this one), so I developed a method to ensure I made time to write and didn’t view it as a chore, or worse, neglect to do it at all.
There are a lot of organisational processes out there, and plenty of time management tools, but here’s what works for me when it comes to writing for my business.
SCHEDULE WRITING TIME IN EVERY DAY AND MAKE IT NON-NEGOTIABLE.
- Choose a time of day where you energy is focused and your workspace is calm. Everyone has different rhythms, different energy burning at various times of the day, different tasks they have to get done in a work week.
- Schedule 20 minutes of uninterrupted time into your diary at your chosen time of day.
- Before you sit down to write, be clear on what your desired outcome is, or what piece of writing you are going to tackle.
- When you sit down, set a timer and write furiously for 20 minutes and then stop, regardless of where you are at. (The reason for this is to train yourself to use the time wisely by throwing everything into it and maximising your output without over-stretching it.)
- Follow this process, daily if possible. If that feels unachievable, set yourself 3 days in the week where you follow the process. You may find you actually enjoy it (and become very productive) so you can work up to more writing days in your week.
My time is night time. It’s quiet. The kids are asleep, the cat has settled, my phone has stopped ringing and I’m calm. My imagination is better at night time and my creativity is flowing.
I tried getting up early, when my husband does, to write at dawn, but it just didn’t work for me. My brain was too foggy and I resented not being in bed for those few extra zzzz’s. I spent the rest of the day with tired eyes and a scattered brain. I also tried writing at lunchtime, but I was either too involved in client work and felt like writing for myself was an interruption or I was hungry (and I don’t write well when I’m hungry). I even tried writing for one whole day in my week to knock over large pieces of content…but that was just too taxing and also felt like an interruption of the hours I could be getting paid for.
I really struggled with getting this right in the beginning stages of my business. I felt guilty about my lack of focus and hated myself for failing at all these techniques. I abhorred my laziness and was pissed off at my easily-distracted nature. But the truth was I was just damn scared to start writing and put myself out there in any kind of regular fashion; I was doomed to fail from the outset. And it was just stupidity. Some crazy blockage. I wrote reams and reams of verbose diatribe in my teens and twenties. I have degrees in Literature. I know how to write, for goodness sake! But for some reason when it came to writing for my own business I just couldn’t do it.
So here’s the thing. If you follow the above process, I guarantee you, you will get truckloads done.
Because focusing on one task is completely possible – and probable – for 20 minutes.
Even when you’re tired and busy, 20 minutes is doable. Consider that it’s really only once or twice around the water cooler in corporate days terms. And seriously, if you can’t find 20 minutes in your day, you need to sort your stuff out – there is TOOOO much going on.
The key is to stick to your allotted time and to stop after the timer has gone off. I know that if I kept writing, I’d be overwhelmed, and ultimately this would stop working for me. I may feel great on the days I wrote for an hour but then really crappy on the days I couldn’t manage 10 minutes. So, find the length of time that’s right for you and stick with it. If you find that 20 minutes is too long make it 15 – but commit to it. The more easily you can fit this time into your schedule, the more successful it will be for you. You’ll get much more achieved and you will reap the benefits big time by expanding your profile through your content.
So whether it’s a blog, social media posts for the week, research papers, case studies, a novel, or marketing materials, think about how much you could achieve it you just gave yourself a calm, happy 20 minutes each day to write….