Do you hope to become a published author and write a great novel? That’s terrific! But what about the rest of us?
I am not a writer. Do not consider myself a writer. And have no desire to write a book or have a literary agent.
However, I do get tremendous satisfaction from helping people, networking and exchanging ideas. Also, I am a strong proponent of small business DIY social media marketing.
Unfortunately, since I live on an island, the best way for me to communicate and try to help other business owners out there is to self publish my thoughts.
If YOU do not consider yourself a writer and have been holding back from blogging or some other form of written expression, then fear not! I am going to try and assist you.
There are many blogs (and books) that I read and think –
“Damn I wish I could write like that”
But I am very comfortable admitting that I am not them and probably will never possess their overall skill and grace when it comes to crafting a handsomely delicious blog post or story.
However, if you are like me, you should not be dismayed. Even as a self confirmed non-writer I have been able to get guest posts published on some of the top blogs on the Internet. For example see my posts on:
Zen Habits – Six Life Lessons Learned from Triathlon Training
Problogger – Launching Your Next Venture Using Social Media
Chris Brogan – How to Overcome Wallflower Syndrome
Successful Blog (Liz Strauss) – You Have the Power to Change the World
The above is by NO MEANS meant to come off as bragging or gloating but it is intended to hopefully give YOU confidence, especially, if you own a business and would like to start blogging as part of an overall social media campaign. Certainly, if I can do it, you can too!
How have I done it?
To be honest, I have never really thought about my “non-writing” formula until recently when I woke up at two in the morning and could not get back to sleep. With miscellaneous thoughts and ideas flowing through my mind at that strange hour, it was then that I realized I do indeed have a writing system and general flow that I follow. And I thought, perhaps others who struggle with writing (like me) would find my methodology useful.
Eight Step Non-Writer’s Guide to Writing
- Write your titles first – I realize that this advice might sound counterintuitive, but I always start with a title and work my blog post out from it. If you are a small business owner looking to blog for the first time, it’s a great way to get started. Heck, I can even come up with a title that sounds good for scrubbing toilets – “How to Influence Customers and Win at Toilet Scrubbing.” Or, if you would like some more general ideas, have a look at 31 Blog Post Ideas for Small Businesses.
- Get started – I know, I have stared at the blank computer screen for hours waiting and hoping for someone to just magically show up and start writing for me. When that didn’t occur I realized that I had to START, and at the very least, get my ideas down on paper.
- List out bullet points – if you are having difficulty getting started, listing bullet points of what you want to say can be tremendously helpful. These items that you list can be structured into formal paragraphs after you get your ideas “out.” For example, if you are struggling with you websites ‘About’ page (remember DIY media creation) then list out everything that is unique about you or your business and create your sentences and paragraphs from the “idea inventory” you have created.
- Write in a “human” voice – when I draft blog posts or even emails, I always try to imagine that I am having a conversation with someone and that I am trying to explain a concept or task in as “stripped down” a language as possible. (READ: I am not really trying to impress anyone, so I leave the fancy big words for the real writers.)
- Be useful – if you are going to put in the hard work and hours (yes, for me it’s hours!) that it takes to write something well, then try to at least make it on a subject matter that is first and foremost, important to YOU, and also essential to others who happen to be in your business or niche. Remember, you have knowledge and people all over the world are using the Internet to learn…what can you teach them?
- Keep it simple – the most popular post on my old site MyTropicalEscape was without question a missive titled “39 Things I Have Learned As I Prepare to Turn 40.” Strangely enough, I drafted that post in about twenty minutes (much less time than normal) and I think it succeeded precisely because it was simple. I am constantly trying to remove words and keep my drafts as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible.
- Proofread – most of us hate it, I’ve been skewered before in the comment section for not doing it, and sometimes it feels like it would be easier to schedule a root canal than to have to undertake this mundane task. But we can’t escape it!
- Presentation/newspaper test – if you remember one thing from this post, I think this might be the most helpful tip. With everything that I write I try to imagine that I am going to be giving a presentation on the subject. If what I’ve written, after going through all of the steps above, is clear and easy to understand then I will publish the post or web page (whatever I happen to be working on). Also, I am not sure who said this, but I NEVER publish or email anything that I would not want to find has mysteriously been plastered on the front page of the New York Times and read by millions of people.
Well, that’s it. That is my non-writer’s writing guide. Please, if you struggle with writing, or even if you consider yourself a writer, let us know your tips, tricks, and goals in the comments.
(I typically post about once a week and seriously want to help businesses with getting a grasp on social media and blogging. If the subject interests you then sign up for the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter @mark_hayward.)
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