In this post, you’re going to learn my 5-step writing process to create a blog post from scratch.
But before that, I want to share the kind of writing struggles I had and how I overcame them.
I have been struggling with writing for as long as I can remember.
When it was time to write, I’d stare at a blank page and have my fingertips on the keyboard. Yet no words came out of me. I felt like I had nothing worthy to say.
Even if I did manage to get something out, it was going to be less than perfect. Why bother publishing something that I’m not 100% confident in? Why bother at all?
These thoughts paralyzed and stopped me from publishing content for a long time. If you can relate to this, here’s what you need to do.
Repeat this as your mantra as this mindset shift will help you to write again.
- Accept where you are right now. Regardless of how far you think you are from your ideal self, publish something out in public.
- You can’t improve on something you haven’t written.
- It’s not up to you to decide if your content is good. It’s up to the readers. Your job is to get the content in front of the readers.
When you feel “stuck” writing, you are being too much in your head. In reality, no one really cares about you, your self-worth, or your writing as much as you do. Your ego is getting in your way of writing and publishing content.
You might suck. That’s fine because you can’t improve on something you haven’t written. You can’t think your way to becoming a better writer. You have to write your way to becoming a better writer. You have to spend time being a sucky writer before you learn to create something that’s good.
You have to distance yourself from your own creation and look at it objectively. If you tie your identity too much into your creation, you’re going to get stuck. I run this blog under an alias, which helps me detach myself from my writing.
When I go over some of my writing on this blog, I can say, “It’s not the most amazing blog ever, but it does enough to get the job done.” I’m not casting any judgment on my own character nor is my writing a reflection of myself. There are certain points that I could do better about this blog, and I can simply see and verbalize it clearly without having too much of my ego in it.
Having said that, here is my 5-step writing process that enables me to write a blog post fairly consistently and predictably.
Step 1. Start With A Question
Instead of trying to write something out of the blue, write something in response to commonly asked questions.
I never wake up in the morning and suddenly come up with beautiful prose. In order to create, I need input or an external stimulus. My writing is simply a reaction or response to that.
When you just try to write from what you know or remember, you’re going to get stuck. You could start with anything and everything. There’s no parameter and that’s not going to help when you’re trying to start writing.
Instead, start with a keyword or commonly asked question. That way you can write something in response to that.
Type a topic keyword you have in mind on Google. You can go over some top pages and the headlines but also go to the bottom of Google’s search result page to see the list of related questions other people are asking. This will give you an idea of what you could write about.
Organize and list those questions on an excel sheet. Then start working from the one that you think you can do.
Step 2. Outline
When you write your blog post around a keyword or a question, your blog post will have a sense of direction. You’ll write in order to arrive at an outcome or solution. Then your outline is simply a series of steps required to achieve that outcome.
For example, if the question is “where to find freelancing jobs” then the answer to that question would be a list of the top-recommended freelancing marketplaces. Naturally, the body of the post will be about the comparison of those marketplaces and what freelancers need to do in order to be successful in those marketplaces.
Don’t try to make your outline perfect. Make your outline just “good enough.” During the following steps, you will switch around and reorganize your outline anyway.
You can create templates for different types of posts. I’ll get more into this in the future post.
Step 3. Assemble
There’s a popular quote among copywriters which says, “Great writing is not written. It’s Assembled.” At least that’s true to me for this step of the process.
First of all, I can’t write something if I do not have a prompt. If there are some gaps in my knowledge on the chosen topic then I’d need to research and educate myself.
I go through my Diigo bookmarks, Evernote notes, and Gmail (which is organized by labels) for relevant paragraphs or text on the topic. Then I copy and paste them into a Google Doc.
It’s messy and disorganized, and that’s okay. Right now, the organization doesn’t matter and I might even end up not using 90% of them.
You’re not sure what you’re looking for. You’re not sure what the core message of the blog post will be. This is a text assembling phase.
Chances are, we all know something other people don’t. But we don’t recall or think about what we already know unless we’ve been prompted in a conversation.
Going through the notes will help you reactivate your brain to recall your experiences and the things you know about the topic.
Step 4. Brain-Dump
When those thoughts arise in my head, I brain-dump them on Google Docs. Notice I said, “brain-dump” not “write.”
In the “brain-dump” phase, I’m typing as fast as possible and jotting my thoughts down. My sentences are incomprehensible with lots of grammatical and spelling errors. There are many one-word or two-word sentences. A 5-year-old could write better English.
If I still feel stuck, I take out a voice-to-text app and start talking instead. Someone might get a “writer’s block,” but nobody gets a “talker’s block.” Whatever that comes to mind, speak into the voice-to-text app. Most will be garbage, but that’s okay.
Step 4. Rewrite
Rewriting is the actual writing. What we’ve done up to this point is to prepare enough material to work with.
We have enough clay. Now it’s time to sculpt the clay into a structure.
Because I’ve done the previous steps ahead of time, the rewriting becomes a much more manageable, straightforward activity.
It doesn’t mean rewriting can be done quickly. What it means that you don’t really get stuck at the rewriting phase, because (1) you already have a keyword or question in mind, (2) you have a general idea of the outline and how it will flow and (3) you have assembled enough notes and brain-dumped your thoughts on paper.
Rewriting is just about taking those materials you already have on paper, rewriting them in a way that makes more sense in English, and putting them in an orderly manner according to the outline.
It feels more like rewriting someone else’s crappy essay paper. And that’s much easier to tackle than trying to write something from scratch.
Step 5. Tidy Up
After I finished the post, I’d run it through the Grammarly app to tidy up the punctuation. I’d also reword some sentences for clarity and catch small mistakes.
Then, I’d read out loud what I’ve written. If it doesn’t roll off the tongue or doesn’t flow well, I’d go back and edit it.
Now the writing is done. Format it with HTML tags, add some images, and hit publish!
What’s Your Method?
Instead of trying to “write,” break down your writing activities into subtasks as I have. This way you can work on your writing linearly, rather than relying on your creative bursts to produce Shakespearean prose.
I wouldn’t say this is the quickest way to write a blog post. But it is the least stressful and most straightforward and predictable way to produce content for me.
Also, one great thing about blogging is that unlike writing a book, you can always go back and improve what you’ve already published. Looking at your past writing gives you clues to becoming more skilled at writing.
What’s your method for writing a blog post? Is there a step that I skipped or need more explanations of?
Let me know in the comments!
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels