Hours 8-11: Complete Writing Assignment #1,
Hours 12-15: Complete Writing Assignment #2,
Hours 16-19: Complete Writing Assignment #3
Now it’s time to get down to the business of writing. If you created a detailed outline, then this is just a matter of working your way through your outline.
Here are tips to boost your productivity and come out with a better end product:
· Get rid of distractions. Shut off the phone, shut off the TV, close unnecessary browser windows, and ask your family or house mates not to disturb you.
TIP: There are productivity apps available that make it harder for you to get distracted by sites such as social media. For example, these apps can “lock” you out of Facebook, YouTube and other sites so that you’re 100% focused on your writing. One specific example is the Write Room, which you can find here: www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/writeroom.
· Do writing sprints. Some people find it easier to write if they set a timer for 20 minutes and work as quickly as they can until the timer goes off. Then take a two to five minute break, reset the timer, and do another sprint. You can get a lot done during every three-hour block.
· “Trick” yourself into focusing. Some people do better when they force or trick themselves into better productivity. One example is to unplug your laptop when it only has three hours of battery left, and put the charger in an inconvenient place so you’re not tempted to plug back in. Then you’ll be forced to finish your writing before the battery runs out.
· Close research windows before writing. It’s a good idea to research things, but close those resources before you actually start writing. That way you don’t accidentally make your content sound similar to someone else’s content.
TIP: Use at least three or four different reputable resources when you research something. Again, using multiple sources helps ensure your content doesn’t sound similar to anyone else’s content.
· Don’t edit as you write. When you sit down to write, focus on getting all your ideas into the document. Don’t go back and change sentence structure. Don’t start moving paragraphs around. Don’t delete stuff. Don’t proof. All of this will slow you down. Instead, write quickly now, because you’ll be editing later.
· Consider using a speech-to-text app. If you’re a slow typist, then you may want to consider using an app that converts your speech into text. One such example is the popular Dragon Naturally Speaking. You may need to train the app to recognize your speech patterns, and you’ll need to review your document later to clean up mistakes and misheard text. Still, many people report being able to finish a document faster by speaking rather than typing.
· Don’t make it harder than it is. Some people get in the mindset that they can’t do this because they’re not a writer. Your audience isn’t looking for a video script written by Shakespeare. What they’re looking for is GOOD information. If you can provide easy-to-understand solutions, then your audience isn’t going to care if your writing isn’t poetic.
Once your document is done, then move onto the next step…
Hour 20: Prepare Your Product Document
Once you’ve written the first draft, then you can prepare your document using these three additional steps:
Take a look…
Pad: Here’s where you add additional content to strengthen and improve your product. For example, if you discover that one of your instructions for completing a step isn’t detailed enough, then you may add in extra instructions, tips and examples to make it as useful as possible for your readers.
TIP: It’s a good idea to bring some beta users into the process at this point. If you’re an expert in your topic, you may inadvertently make “logical leaps” that befuddle a beginner. A good beta user will tell you where you need to add extra instruction to clarify some process.
For example, an expert stick-shift driver may tell a beginning driver to “put the car into gear.” The expert may assume that everyone knows you need to push the clutch in first. However, this is NOT obvious to someone who has never driven a car before.
As such, the beginner would be better served by getting complete instructions that include application of the brake and clutch, as well as how to move the stick shift and when to apply the gas.
Polish: This is where you give the document itself a little spit and polish to make it shine. The idea here is to format it so that it’s easy to read. Here are specific tips to help you accomplish this task:
· Turn a list in a paragraph into a bulleted list. A bulleted list not only makes the content easier to digest, but it can also pull a skimmer’s eyes back into the content. And that’s a good thing.
· Use short sentences and paragraphs. No one wants to read a big wall of text. No one wants to read sentences that go on for miles. You can make your content easier to digest simply by using short sentences and paragraphs. Need an example? Just look at this report.
· Avoid “$100 words.” A big, fancy word might impress your old college pals, but it’s not going to impress your readers. In fact, big words serve as speed bumps for readers. If a reader needs to figure out what a word means, you’ve slowed them down… and that’s almost never a good thing. So use “everyday language” so that your readers don’t need to use a dictionary to use your product.
· Be sure you’re offering a light, conversational tone. Not only will this read better for those who choose to read the text product, but it will also flow better when you’re doing narration for your slide-presentation video.
TIP: Imagine that you’re sharing information with a good friend. This simple step ensures you provide a friendly tone throughout your report and video.
Now, one of the best ways to make your content easy to read (or listen to, in the case of the video) is to make it so engaging that people can’t rip their attention away from it. Here are tips for creating this sort of engaging content:
Tip 1: Tell stories.
This is a great way to engage your readers on an emotional level. This is particularly important for when you have a promo at the end of your content. That’s because the sales process starts once you push emotional buttons. So if you’ve already stoked that emotion, you’ve won half the battle.
The second benefit of telling stories is that it makes your content more memorable, understandable and relatable. That’s why Aesop expressed his lessons through stories. That’s why the Bible is written as a series of stories and parables.
TIP: Engage your reader’s five senses in order to really pull them into your content. Make them feel like they’re right there with the main character in your story.
For example, if you’re telling a story about a dieter going to the gym, then describe the smell of the locker room and the clanging of the weight equipment.
Tip 2: Arouse curiosity.
One good way to keep people hooked and reading is to evoke curiosity for what’s coming up later in the product.
For example: “In just a few moments you’ll discover the amazing secret that Hollywood celebrities use to shed the fat fast. But first, you’ll find out if you’re making the #1 dieting mistake…”
Tip 3: Use trigger words.
Trigger words are those that almost always capture the reader’s attention. If you sprinkle these sorts of words through your content generously, it will be easier to hold attention.
Here are examples of trigger words:
· How to
NOTE: The word “you” is one of the most powerful trigger words you can use. That’s why you’ll want to use it generously throughout your content. This helps ensure that your content is about your reader and their problems (versus being about you or someone else).
Tip 4: Think “edutainment.”
Edutainment is all about being entertaining while educating your readers and viewers. Remember your favorite teacher back in school, the one who told great jokes and stories? That’s the person you want to emulate now. A light conversational tone with a sprinkling of humor usually does the trick.
Tip 5: Insert analogies and metaphors.
Finally, you can make your content more engaging simply by using analogies and metaphors. This can really hook a reader, and it makes the content more memorable.
For example, let’s suppose you’re teaching a dieter how to do high intensity interval training (HIIT). The key to this exercise is to give 100% for short bursts of time. So if the person is running, they run as fast as they can for 20 seconds (just as an example).
Now you might say “run as fast as you can,” but that’s not very engaging or memorable. Instead, you could say, “Run like a knife-wielding serial killer is chasing you through Central Park.”
That creates an image in your customer’s mind. And it makes your instructions more memorable. You can bet the next time they do HIIT they’ll be thinking of running away from a killer!
Proofread: Finally, give your document one final read to look for typos, factual errors and other problems.
Now, there are three ways to do this…
Method 1: Do it yourself. For best results, set your manuscript aside for a few days. That way you can look at it with fresh eyes.
Method 2: Have someone else look at it. This other person might be a colleague, spouse, family member or friend. They don’t necessarily need to be a pro proofreader, but it helps if they have a decent handle on basic grammar rules and spelling.
Why have someone else do it? Because they’re more likely to catch errors.
You see, we get too close to our own work to properly proof it. We read it the way we THINK we wrote it, rather than the way it is actually written. So it’s very difficult to find errors on our own work.
Method 3: Hire a pro to proof it. If you’d rather skip all the amateur proofing, then you can hire a pro instead. You may check out freelancing sites such as Elance.com and UpWork.com.
TIP: If you decide to go with a pro, then be sure to do your due diligence first. You want to make sure anyone you hire has a long, established history of providing good quality service at a fair price.