Writing is a mindset; you need momentum to hunt for ideas so get hungry for articles and material that will get a reaction. Remember, boring doesn’t stick. There’s plenty of tiring drivel around already; you only have to look at local newspaper headlines:
“Fallen tree causes traffic chaos” “Rebuilding of Fire Station on course” and that is why local and national paper circulations are dropping fast.
R.S.Thomas, in “Poetry for Supper” said that two old poets argued. One said that content just arrived like the ‘sunlight through a window’. The other said, “Man, you must sweat and rhyme your guts taut if you’d build your verse a ladder.” So, yes, it needs to be worked on!
Do you ever wake up in the night with an idea in your head, then, next morning you’ve forgotten it? Consigned to the whatever-was-that-idea bin? Try and keep a notepad next to your bed. You’ll sleep easier after you’ve noted it.
After your subject headers, (next week’s subject) you need a purpose to the piece whether it’s website, direct mail, email, blog or other. Decide what it must DO and your audience. We’ll look at language and tone later.
Start with your subject headers then prioritise your headlines in order of their punch and topicality. Roll out your thoughts about that headline. You don’t have to finish a piece in one bite; park half-finished articles for later.
Voice Recorders – Why is a voice recorder a great idea? Because if you write as you speak, it’s you talking, naturally! It sounds like a real person. It is also spontaneous. Evernote used to be just a note-taker for desktop or smartphone. In its basic form, it includes a voice recorder and it gives you the chance to store and search all your jottings, photos; to share them by email, Twitter, Facebook, link clips and quotes and half-finished pieces in one place. The labelling system is down to you – for creating your own separate notebooks, tags for recognition and, of course, it’s all storable in the cloud. The free version is upgradeable @ £4 month or £30 a year for more storage, to sync with all devices, etc.
When you’re taking the dog for a walk, (if not, borrow a dog!) get into the mood of the piece and relay your thoughts into the voice recorder. Don’t worry if people think you’re barking mad. Stay on subject then add all the random ideas you can think of. Your rules, so nothing is offside. Record all theories and deductions from as many dimensions as possible, no matter how ridiculous.
Then add the facts from authoritative sources. Arrangement into a logical sequence comes later.
Start a “swipe file”. Cut and paste clips from sources all around your subject and drop them into Windows Notepad. That will render the copy flat text and take out all strange formatting. Label the subjects so you can retrace your steps. Ask Google anything, in plain English.
Swipe from media sources and look at StumbleUpon and Netvibes. These are free online tools known as Aggregators. Choose the subjects you want prompted.
List the subjects around your product or service and edit them as you wish: by preferred region – UK, European countries, USA, etc then by appropriate categories in your subject. Click the Stumble box every time you update, drop a category or open a new one. Remind yourself to log in each day. http://www.stumbleupon.com
Netvibes – same idea but different perspectives. You start a Netvibes Dashboard of all the things that interest you from your world of business or interests. Refresh means the latest news is loaded and from a range of sources. It’s a ‘What’s the latest?’ tool. http://www.netvibes.com/en
Twitter, too, is a great information tool, but we’ll cover it later. So, start building the stories you need to enlighten, entertain or amuse your clients and prospects. Call us if you’re having difficulty in getting going.