How I write articles

On in Articles, Thoughts by Krzysztof Rusnarczyk

You might know I tend to note down everything. And it’s been proven that writing regularly is good for you. But sometimes, it’s not as easy as that. You sit down with a great idea for article, write one sentence and... don't know what to write next. I've seen this problem with at least some of the people I know. But I have a few tips that will show you how to speed up the process and do it properly.

Before we jump in, let’s note that if writing is what you do for a living, you probably have your own ways and practices of dealing with this. That said, you might still find something useful here. :) I’d like this to be useful for those of us who sometimes need or want to share their thoughts with others. It can be a blog post, an article on Medium, even a tweet. It all starts with what’s in your head.

If you have an idea, note it. Don’t trust your brain to remember it — as smart as you are, it won’t be enough every time. Write it down. Don’t wait for the right place or the right time to sit down and write it all up at length. Just jot down the essentials and go about your day. Note the idea, give it a short description, to make it easier for your future self to circle back and understand what the hell you meant in the first place.

These days, it’s easier than ever to take notes in the field. You can use a notebook, a phone, a tablet, a computer. The digital options have at least one advantage: you can use an online service (there are a bunch to choose from) to sync your notes and thoughts. With that, you can access the quick notes from your phone on your computer and use that to grow them into a full article or post. And on the other hand, if the notes are stored online, you don’t have to worry about losing them.

For me, this is an amazing productivity booster. It keeps my mind clear, and lets me focus on the important thing at hand. If you’re anything like me, and have a ton of ideas running around in your head all day, you’re either already doing this, or you should really start. Trust me on that, you’ll thank me later.

But you’re not always out and about, either. Sometimes, you’re able to begin writing right away.

So first off, throw all your thoughts out on the page.
Keep going, until you have all of them out there. All of them.
Pay no attention to errors, to grammar, to syntax — they don’t matter at this point.
Just write it out.
Bulletpoint it.

Keep writing until you’re all spent and there’s no thought left that’s not put to paper.

You can revise it later.

Now, when you do have the time to sit down and go back to your notes, that’s the moment to dig into the thing you’ve noted, take it apart, develop it into something complete.

Go back through the points you have listed, or the description you’ve made. Group those ideas thematically, so they pack a bigger punch. If they’re scattered all over, the argument you’re making won’t be as strong, or as coherent.

Then you want to sketch out the key paragraphs. It’ll give you a structure for the entire text. You can then review which parts are necessary, which aren’t, and which should maybe be moved to a separate post.

Now, one interesting thing that works for me is to write the meat of the text and the conclusion, before I do the introduction. That makes it easier to lead up to the main point of what I want to say.

After that, the traditional approach is to build up the points and paragraphs you want to underline, and finally, read, re-read, and re-read. Once you have some distance from what you wrote, you can start to cut out the fluff. Get rid of stuff that’s not necessary. Now, mind you, this doesn’t mean that your entire article should be a 1, 2, 3-bulleted list with just your bare ideas. If you feel the text needs some more color, or extra background — go with it. Necessary can mean a lot of different things, and it will depend on what point you want to get across.

But just remember:
Start by putting it all out there. You need to have everything on the page before you really can whittle it down to the things that count.

This method comes with the Underovsky Seal of Approval. :)