Okay, so maybe you’re not leaving at 5 today. You wanted to crank out that blog post hours ago, but it was impossible with all those “quick meetings” and ASAP emails.
Now, it’s the end of the day, and you’re staring at a blank screen. Maybe this post won’t be the epic masterpiece you’d like, but you have to get it done.
Here are 5 tips to plow through your web writing project.
1) Write the subtitles first
Web content has to be written in chunks. And those chunks usually have a subtitle on top.
Writing the subtitles first is similar to writing an outline, except it’s text you’re actually going to use.
This will help focus your writing on the main points you want to include. Then, all you have to do is go back and fill in the sections.
2) Fill in the specifics last
At 5 o’clock your goal is to get your thoughts out of your head and onto the screen. Don’t interrupt your flow by looking for nook-and-cranny information right now. You can go back and fill in those specifics later.
Use placeholders for any specific details you want to include but don’t have on hand, like correct name spelling, dates, credentials and stats.
My favorite placeholder is simply capitalized, bolded text, like this:
This grabs your attention so you don’t skip these details when you go back to edit. It also takes up about the same amount of space as the actual information, so your word count won’t end up skewed when you add that information later.
3) Close your email and social media feeds
I know it’s hard. We’re addicted to our inboxes.
But you need an hour of uninterrupted concentration if you want to get this done. And nothing will distract you faster than seeing a new email, tweet, chat message or status update.
Shut all that stuff down. They can wait an hour.
4) Plan to procrastinate
I know this sounds strange, but hear me out.
Raise your hand if you write more productively under pressure. If you were trained in a newsroom like I was, your brain is probably well-conditioned to write on deadline. So, plan for that.
Here’s the truth: If you only had 45 minutes, you’d do it in 45 minutes. You’ll be much more likely to crank through the project if you’re going against the clock. So, wait to write until you’re closer to the deadline, instead of wasting time fiddling with it in advance. That way you don’t over think or over edit. Use the time in between to cross other stuff off your list.
Warning: This only works if you’re ready to write. If you still have to do research and track people down for quotes, ignore this.
5) Print to proof or send to a colleague
If you’ve had a razor sharp focus on your writing project for the last hour or so…and it’s the end of the day…and you’re hungry, tired and ready to go—your eyes are probably not fresh enough to do your best proofreading. (Besides, proofreading your own writing is not a good idea anyway.)
Get up. Go to the bathroom or do something to change the scene for a minute. Then, come back and print what you just wrote. You’ll see way more corrections on the hard copy than on the screen. And if you can grab a colleague to edit with you, even better.