Do you want to write more but have a hard time knowing where to start?
Well, you’re not alone. The writing process creates certain roadblocks that can slow down even the best writers. From choosing the right topic to finding a working title, it’s a science.
Possibly the largest leap writers encounter is going from the idea to the drafting phase. Figuring out what you want to write about and then actually writing about it.
It seems like an easy step to open a fresh document and start typing, right? But this rarely ever works. If it was that simple you wouldn’t be here.
We’ve noticed that when writing about educational topics like this one or even the oh-so-dreaded “how-to,” pure creativity can never overshadow a working structure. Having a map to get to your final destination is more effective than going where the wind takes you and hoping you make it there eventually.
In fact, creativity becomes more digestible and coherent when organized and presented in a simple progression. The right structure maintains focus, supports the message, and works linearly like a story.
You’re not writing in a vacuum. If you want people to read the things you write, whether it be an essay, blog post, or an email, present your words in an understandable format.
For that, we have created our own template with the basics of what we put into every outline and how we build it into a workable draft.
Here’s the full template so you don’t have to scroll for days to find it. But keep reading to see how to build each line:
1. Choose a topic
2. What's my point of view on said topic?
3. The Title
4. The Introduction
5. Sections (1,2,3...) - What is this section about? - Why does it matter? - Research or Examples - Takeaways
8. The Conclusion
Choosing a Topic
The first step — before you put pen to paper or fingers to keys — is to figure out what you’ll be talking about. Notice I didn’t say “writing” about.
Think of this part as a conversation.
If you were in a cafe with your best friend, what’s a topic you would likely bring up? Your audience needs to feel that connection. The reader acts as that best friend.
It’s probably something you know about, heard on a podcast, or watched in a film. But more importantly, it’s something you have an actual interest in. Writing for the sake of writing or to capitalize on a trendy subject is a sure-fire way to produce low-quality material that no one will read.
If you find it boring in a conversation, you won’t elicit the type of passion or intrigue necessary for an audience to desire to read it. Sure, you may catch them with the headline, but all fluff and no substance will do more to keep people away than attract them.
Whatever you’re creating, share your curiosity in it. Make it clear to your audience that you have a vested interest in your topic.
This will lead to having an original and strong point-of-view — possibly the most important part of your writing.
What Is Your Point-of-View?
OK, you’ve got your topic. Now, what do you think about it? What is your point? Why are you writing about it?
You can have multiple arguments or positions, but there should be one guiding light, superior to the others, that can carry the entire article on its own. Your secondary and tertiary arguments should complement and reinforce the main claim.
Be sure they’re supporting and not contradicting your main argument. As you begin writing and researching your topic, you may find that some of your points do just that. Edit and eliminate those aspects to avoid confusion.
Tip: Limit your number of arguments to between three and five. For your audience to either agree or disagree with your arguments they need to be able to finish reading your article. So choose your best and drop the rest.
Developing the Title
First impressions are important and your title is your reader’s first impression of your article. Be it on Medium or your personal blog, it’s often the only thing they can see before clicking to read the full piece.
Think of the title as your North Star — it helps to keep focus and prevents you from going off-topic.
A carefully crafted title (also known as a headline) can draw attention, spark curiosity, and encourage readers to learn more. Plus, including the right elements in your title will help your article rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to drive organic traffic to your site.
There are five types of high-level headlines to keep in mind:
The Normal (Ways to Create A Great Logo)
A Question (What Are the Ways to Create A Great Logo?)
The How-to (How to Create A Great Logo)
The Numbered List (5 Ways to Create A Great Logo)
Address the Reader (Ways Freelancers Can Create A Great Logo)
As you may have noticed, lists and how-to headlines are the most prevalent across the web. The reason lies in their simplicity.
People love an easy read. With so much content out there, allowing readers to quickly skim the content that matters to them is a great way to increase your article’s read time.
With that being said, you still need to bring value to your piece. No matter how many items are on your list, the information should be long enough to provide details, but short enough to be devoured quickly.
Tip: When developing your article title, if you don’t grab the reader’s attention right away you’ll probably lose them.
Did you notice which headline we used for this article?
Coming Up With an Introduction
In the grand scheme of writing a 3,000-word article, the introduction is a small portion of the actual read time. However, the length of an introduction doesn’t correlate to its significance.
Whether it’s a few paragraphs or a few sentences, the introduction is the difference between engaging a reader and a high bounce rate.
The sole purpose of your first sentence is to compel your audience to read the next. This continues on as they scroll further.
But what constitutes a great opening line?
Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as being “too productive.”
That’s a great opening line because it makes me want to know more!
How can you be “too productive?”
What did he learn?
Could I benefit from it too?
Nicolas nailed it. He drew us in.
He also kept the first sentence short. This makes the initial idea easily digestible for readers, preventing confusion and ultimately loss of interest.
Let’s Get to the Meat of Your Article
The various sections of an article should provide four basic functions:
Explain what the section is about
Explain why it matters
Provide detailed research or examples
Give the audience something to take away
Each section should add context to the overall topic of the article.
Like a traditional essay (remember the ones you wrote in high school), these sections support the main points presented in the introduction. Each section is developed by one or more paragraphs and supported through research and examples.
The research compiled further explains and supports your claim with the overall takeaway coming at the end to summarize for the reader.
Your analysis and point-of-view on the topic tie together into the takeaway of the section. The section’s purpose and scope will determine its length.
In Conclusion, the Conclusion
Now is the time to bring together all the main points from your article.
Refer back to your introduction and leave readers with a final thought. Provide a sense of closure by resolving any ideas discussed and finalizing arguments made.
It’s not easy to write an article a day, but having a well-developed process and template makes it manageable.
What tactics or templates do you use to write and publish your articles quickly? Let us know.
Before You Publish, Remember This:
Include a relevant sub-headline as an add-on to the title. It helps to give a glimpse into the idea of the article even before reading the first sentence.
If possible, consider using quotes. Incorporate the words of influential people to substantiate your points. This will also bring more highlights and the chances for the sharing of your article.
Use hyperlinks to other articles, writers, and content from around the internet. Make sure external links are providing more context to your ideas and not just a shameless plug for your other works.