The Writing Process
So, you want to write new content; or maybe you need to write new content. You’ve heard how important storytelling is for communicating your mission and message but let’s face it – you haven’t written a story since high-school English class. You may be wondering where do we start?
Before you put pen to paper, it’s important to establish what the writing process looks like so you can set yourself up for the greatest success. Whenever you are writing your stories, whether it be for a newsletter, for a speech, for an appeal letter, or for a Facebook post, considering going through the following 5 steps.
The brain dump. This step is so important because getting all of your thoughts out of your head and onto paper will help you feel less overwhelmed. Once you can actually start visualizing your story it will help you know which direction to go with it. Many people get tripped up with writing before they even begin because they feel too bogged down with ideas and freeze up when trying to sort them out. Set a timer and just start writing down ideas – no need for complete sentences here. Get it all out and do not worry about spelling, punctuation, flow, grammar, or any of the details. Just write whatever comes to mind.
This is the part where you start with your first rough draft. Start to put some structure to your ideas. If you had just jotted down notes or concepts in the pre-writing phase, starting connecting them to form sentences. Don’t worry about perfection. Perfection inhibits progress. This is still a preliminary part of the process.
Now that you have your story content, you can go back and revise. What parts do you want to keep? What parts don’t serve the general purpose of the piece? Is there a part you want to re-write? You can start to get more critical here to ensure quality. However, a word of caution, don’t let your need to be perfect keep you from completing your content. You may never feel completely “ready.” Remember the goals and intentions you have for your message. Try to write from a place of service. Doing this will help you relieve some of the pressure of perfectionism.
Now you can get picky. Punctuation, spelling, sentence structure. You can do this yourself or outsource this part if you feel more comfortable – especially with a longer piece. Run it by a colleague or even a website like grammarly.com.
You’re done! Now it’s time to share your work! Chances are good you already determined which platform you want to share your work on. If you have written a speech, consider recording it so that you can share your message on multiple platforms after the event. Longer written pieces are more suited for a newsletter, website story, or written appeal. Shorter works serve better on social media.
PRO TIP: SET YOURSELF A SCHEDULE!
One of the biggest factors that keeps people from consistently producing quality content, isn’t a lack of talent – it’s a lack of discipline. Now that you know the 5 steps, set a time-frame for yourself. Set intentional deadlines for each step of the writing process. Time-frames hold you accountable. Then set deadlines for different content. How often do you want to be in touch with your constituents via email? Via newsletters? Do you need to produce content to share at your next Board meeting for virtual event? Knowing these deadlines can help you work backward in terms of creating a content schedule for you and your team.
Are you ready to give your donors the content they deserve? Here’s a Donor-Centered Content Marketing worksheet you can use as a template to enhance your donor communication efforts.