Why Should You Write Ahead?

by Stuart Conover on February 12, 2010

The Importance Of Having Pre-Written Content

Two weeks ago I posted a picture of a cat and formed an entire post around trying to go into detail why you should not procrastinate on putting together posts. It was pretty self explanatory, if you aren’t prepared with posts you have to rush through them. While for many bloggers this isn’t a big deal, if you have a day job that is ridiculously busy that day and trying to get the post done at the office or between the office and going out for the night? Quality of content suffers. Anytime you have to rush there is an increased chance of content suffering.

How Do You Prepare For Being Too Busy To Write?

That’s very clear. Write in advance! It doesn’t matter if you have a specific day set aside or a certain amount set aside each day for writing ahead, what is important is that you stick to it. I personally write in a 3 step process where the first 2 are spread out throughout the week and the third is usually done on Saturday or Sunday depending on my schedule.

    The Process

  • Map Out Ideas
  • Writing Overview Posts
  • Writing The Actual Post

It’s a pretty straight forward process and while not what everyone will use I’m sure a variation of it will work for just about anyone out there. The concept behind my plan is two-fold. First off it keeps me writing throughout the week to some extend which always helps to keep the creative juices flowing. Secondly it allows me to keep everything organized and have a flexible plan on being able to finish all of my writing in time and not have to worry about it at the last moment.

So let’s take an overview of the 3 step process I use.

Mapping Out Ideas

I keep an unpublished post at all times on every blog I write on regularly. In this magical unpublished post I jot down every idea that I come up with during the day of something I may want to write on. It doesn’t matter if it’s something I see while surfing the net, an idea I get from a day to day interaction in life, or just something that comes to me – it’s added into the post.

Now to keep this post from getting overly large I will go through it at least once a month to clear out ideas that have been sitting there for more than 2 weeks that I’ve lost interest in, are no longer viable, or have already written a post on based off of a similar idea. Sometimes ideas may end up being in here for months at a time before being looked at and sometimes they are in and out within the same day.

The main part though is 2-3 days during the week and the main writing day I have each weekend – I will spend an hour writing rough drafts of posts based off of these ideas. This is 3-4 hours a week just devoted to writing overviews of posts that I may or may not write.

Writing Overview Or Rough Draft Posts

The Overview post is basically my concept post. It’s the rough start with headers and a few pieces of information under each that I write out when I plan out each of my posts. It’s a great exercise for quite a few reasons. It let’s me always have something partially written in case I don’t have something to write on the spot and can go back to just finish a rough draft. It allows me to plan out if I have enough information to write a full post on a topic I’m interested in. It let’s me keep track of what I am currently interested in.

It’s much less frustrating to spend 10 minutes on a conceptual post than be 30 minutes of going back and forth into writing a final draft and realize I’ve run out of anything to say on a topic and nowhere near a length worth hitting publish.

Writing Full Posts

Now the writing of full posts. In theory I only do this one day a weekend for a few hours on all of my blogs. If I followed my first 2 steps for the week I have a huge pile of ideas stored away and drafts that just need to be finalized. When the first steps are followed this really is just re-writing and hammering out my posts into something that is legible, fun to read, or both depending the topic. On occasion if my weekend is cut short I may have to include this step during the week at night or the day of a post however, that is what we are trying to avoid.

Each post I have ready I still do not hit publish the day I plan on posting it off the bat. I generally review and revise my ‘final’ post one last time. While with the wonders of Firefox most of my spelling typos are already detected there are on occasion grammatical errors that need to be resolved or pieces of information that have to be edited. Having that last bit of proofreading before hitting the publish button will not save you from every error you may make while typing but it will definitely cut back on how often one slips through.

I make sure that these revisions are not done the same day the post is written whenever possible or at least not within an hour it is written. Why the delay? Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that reading over anything with ‘fresh eyes’ will allow you to more easily catch mistakes instead of just skim over what you have written.

Have A Process

What I really want you to take out of this is to have a process. It doesn’t have to be one you follow religiously if that doesn’t work for you but you need something in place to keep yourself organized. Anyone who works freelance, online, or with computers in general knows exactly how easy it is to get distracted. Having a plan you follow and being organized is the easiest way to keep you from daily being interrupted by distractions that can push back being able to accomplish anything to the best of your ability.

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