Worthing Coworking’s James Bradshaw asked me the other day how he should go about writing for his website.

I think there are just two approaches.

Wait for inspiration and bash it out

This is my preferred way to write. Surprised? How do I get anything written?

It’s not as unstructured or hit and miss as it sounds. I have a list of article titles or ideas for Writing For SEO, along with some notes about the content. I have these in Evernote; others have a Word document; yet others have a load of text files in an ideas folder.

Once I’ve established the note or simple outline, it goes on the back burner, where it bubbles away in my subconscious until I feel happy with what I want to say. Often I return to my notes and add a bit more or delete something I’m not happy with at this stage.

Advertising guru David Ogilvy systemised this a little more. He actually used country walks as an established part of his workflow, freeing his mind to be creative with the briefs from his clients.

When I have everything straight in my head, I start writing. It should flow easily and the actual writing time will be minimised. That’s because I’ve put in all that time and effort up front.

Grind the subject into submission

If you haven’t got the time or flexibility to wait for inspiration, you must be disciplined and focus on the task in hand.

Get on to Google and search. Even if you know your subject inside out, others’ approaches may well help you with shaping your own material.

Get your ideas down and structure them – don’t just start writing, or you’ll almost certainly go off at a tangent and waste a huge amount of time generating stuff you won’t use and then trying to edit the story from the mass of words you’ve created.

Then write your copy. It probably won’t flow as easily as if you’d lived with the subject and fully thought it through, but the deadline should give you the discipline to finish the job.

Or mix the two approaches

This is often the reality. Try to get some back burner time to develop your ideas before you focus on writing within a deadline.

Learn what works for you and apply it.

Thanks to Steven Depolo for allowing me to use his photo.