Writing is one of my happy places. Few things bring me as much piece as going into “monk mode,” where I sit at my desk, typing away at a piece of content, with some relaxing music playing in the background and a soft candle burning.
That is exactly what I am doing at the moment. Add to the mix the sun coming up through the trees, and it's a recipe for pure contentment.
These days, I tend to enter monk mode at least 3-4 times a week.
Besides the setting, one of the things that helps me consistently turn out content is that I have a writing process that I follow.
It’s that process that helped me churn out a 46,000-word fantasy novel in 90 days. Today, I’m going to share that process with you.
My writing process
This entire process is captured in a Notion template. By now, you should know that I use Notion for virtually everything, from journaling, to-do management, note-taking, business plan writing, reviewing angel investments, and more. I highly recommend taking a look at it. You can get started for free here (affiliate link).
The first thing I do is ask the following three questions.
- What do I want the reader to learn/know?
- How do I want the reader to feel?
- What do I want the reader to do with this information?
Next up, I mock up potential titles. I try to come up with titles that have one or two of the following characteristics: Urgency, Unique, Ultra-specific (look at this article’s title as an example), or Useful (such as how-tos).
The third step involves designing the outline of the article. That outline always starts with one of two different openers. Those are the Problem-Agitate-Solution (PAS) or Story-Hook-Promise (SHP) methods.
Here’s an example of PAS.
Pain - Have you ever wanted to be taller?
Agitate - Because not being able to reach the top shelf of a cabinet sucks, doesn't it?
Solution - Here are some options to help you feel taller than you are.
An example of SHP might look like the following.
Story - One time, my favorite chips were out of reach because they were on the top shelf of a very tall cabinet.
Hook - I was able to grab my chips without my feet ever leaving the ground.
Promise - Today, I will show you how to feel taller than you are.
So, how do I choose between PAS and SHP?
It depends on the content and whether or not the intended audience, something else I plan out, typically wants to cut straight to an answer or not.
If so, I usually go with PAS.
If not, then SHP is great because people love stories.
But what if you don't have a story of your own to share? Borrow someone else's story.
An example might be:
"One time, my wife's favorite chips...."
"Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was so short that..."
The above process works especially well for shorter-form content such as this article. But it also helped out a lot when I was working on my 46,000-word fantasy novel. Of particular value was having an outline, which helped me push through writer’s block on more than one occasion. If I were stumped writing in a certain chapter, I would often go forward in chapters and begin writing there. The things that occurred in that chapter gave me the information I could use to determine what should have happened in the previous chapters.
What this comes down to is putting in work on the front end of your writing efforts to be more efficient when you sit down to write. For the two books prior to the fantasy novel that were business books, I didn’t follow this process at all. I simply sat down and started writing. It’s possible that because they were personal tell-alls, the lack of a process didn’t matter as much. However, looking back at those books, they don’t feel as wells structured.
I hope you found this helpful. If you learned something interesting, drop me a tweet.
That I love chips doesn’t count…