How to cut your content creation time in half: The three “secret” creativity accelerators

If the thought of sitting down to write your newsletter, or that article for the trade magazine, or the next post to your website makes your palms sweat, you’re not alone. The struggle against that blank Word doc staring back at you, mocking you the longer you sit and wait for inspiration is real.

Getting your ideas out in writing, in podcasts, in presentations is essential to continue​ building your credibility and authority, and for developing ongoing relationships with the people in your market.

And, I completely get the struggle. Back in 2010 and 2011, when I was just starting this business writing was a chore that I’d go to great lengths to avoid. Writing even a short article like this would happen over days. Nothing came naturally.

To tell the truth, I was a solidly average English student in high school. Slightly better in college, but no one who knew me then would have called me a “writer.”

If you relate to that, there’s good news. I’m going to give you three simple ways to cut your creation time in half​ and avoid writer’s block forever.

The surprising way structure unleashes your creativity.

Remember back in middle school, when you write an essay it had a built-in format:

Introduction

3 Main Points

Conclusion

You could take any topic the teacher threw at you and find 3 points, then write an introduction and conclusion. That’s the power of structure—a framework for your content.

The big objection to this idea of structure is that it kills your creativity. Take a second to look around at the articles, business books, and novels you read. All professional writers use a framework because it frees you from worrying about the structure, so you can focus on the content.

All professional writers use a framework because it frees you from worrying about the structure, so you can focus on the content.

Journalists use who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Every article I write (including this one) uses a 3-point framework much like the one you learned back in middle school.

  1. Introduction to frame the problem.
  2. Story (sometimes).
  3. Point 1.
  4. Point 2.
  5. Point 3.
  6. Counter-point (include at least one counter-point to relieve tension for those who might disagree).
  7. Closing and call-to-action.

You can even extend this approach to longer pieces such as presentations (I shared the presentation framework we use for clients of our done-for-you agency service here).

And for books, such as The Follow-up Formula which I’m writing now, I use a more detailed framework…

  • Introduction
    • What’s the big problem?
    • Why is it important (to the reader)?
    • What outcome do we want (by the end of the book)?
    • What’s the best thing that will happen if the reader implements the ideas in the book?
    • What dangers will the reader face if he or she ignores the ideas in the book?
  • Idea #1 – What is it and why is it important?
    • Point 1
      • Question 1
      • Question 2
      • Question 3
    • Point 2
      • Question 1
      • Question 2
      • Question 3
    • Point 3
      • Question 1
      • Question 2
      • Question 3
  • Idea #2 (follows the same pattern)
  • Idea #3
  • Idea #4
  • Idea #5
  • Conclusion
    • Where have we been?
    • What should the reader do next?
    • What’s will life look like if he or she takes the next step?
    • What are the risks/consequences of not acting?

As you can see, it’s not all that different from that format we used in middle school. There are a few more sections, and more points to make, but it’s not complicated.

Do all your thrashing in the outline

I used to just sit at the blank screen and write a headline, then start letting the brain flow directly onto the page. More times than not, I’d end up 250 or 300 words into a 1000 word article and suddenly have no idea where I was headed.

This usually ended in a “select all/delete.”

Then I discovered the magic of outlining. Take a framework from the first section, and then start adding your ideas to it and you have an outline. In 10 or 15 minutes you can dash out an outline, and stand back to see if it really communicates the key message.

And, if you’re off track, a couple of quick adjustments and you’re good to go. That’s way better than scrapping most of an article after you’ve invested an hour of pounding keys.

So this outline business saves time by helping you get the message organized before you start writing. That’s great. But there’s an important factor of speed that you gain.

Instead of wandering aimlessly down the page, you now have a road map. I first discovered this when I wrote Unstoppable Referrals. I’d tried and failed to write two earlier books. With Unstoppable Referrals I spent about eight hours one Saturday and outlined the whole thing using the framework I described above.

I outlined it down to each chapter, then within each chapter there were three points. And for each point, I wrote three questions related to that point (using who, what, when, where, why or how).

When I sat down to start writing the following Monday, it was a breeze. I just had to answer the next question. Then the next, and so on. What for most people is a year-long project to finish a book, took just over 30-days. All because I had a really good map to follow.

That brings us to the third accelerator for creating content.

Write what you know.

You’re already an expert at what you do, so write what you know. Don’t waste time going and researching every article. When you write what you know there are three key advantages.

Advantage 1 – No research required.

I’m going to guess that you’re already reading a ton of stuff related to your business and your industry. For most professionals it’s not just recommended, it’s required. So you don’t need more research.

And, most of the time, your prospects don’t need deeply researched information. But they’ll get great value from you investing the time to take something that trips them up, and translating your experience into practical, understandable and actionable advice.

Advantage 2 – You sharpen your thinking.

There’s no better means for improving your thinking than writing your ideas on paper. For those of us who work with intellectual property especially, the more you write and communicate your ideas, the better you become at what you do.

I’ve probably written a dozen (or more) articles on newsletters as a marketing tool in the last eight years. And each time, I learned some new facet of something I already thought I fully understood.

Advantage 3 – You increase your authority.

By staying in your circle of genius and continuing to hone your thinking by writing and sharing your ideas, you develop a reputation for expertise and you accrue authority status in the minds of your prospects and clients.

Still…I’m not a natural writer.

Fair enough. I don’t know anyone who left the womb with a natural ability to write business articles. The trick is in using structure, a detailed outline and sticking to topics you know. And remember to grab this article (you might want to print it) the next time you need to create a content piece.

What’s happening at The Unstoppable CEO™

Over on the podcast we’re experimenting with a new format—just me, sharing one idea you can take and put to work in your business right away. If you’re not subscribed to the podcast, go subscribe now.

And let me know what you think of the new format (just reply to this email).

And, if you’re curious how we generate leads for our business, without advertising, by simply having fun conversations with other business owners, you’ll want to get The Exponential Network Strategy. It’s available for free in ebook, audio and video format. And, you can pickup the paperback for a few bucks on Amazon.

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