Throughout the program, we analyzed over 2,000 writing sessions and exchanged over 418 e-mails to get to the bottom of what really helps entrepreneurs and copywriters write more.
Today, I’ll share with you the 3 biggest writing myths that we debunked during this program (as well as the data behind them) that will change the way you think about writing, and help you get started with writing more.
Let’s dive in!
Myth #1: “I don’t have the time to write”
Whether it’s client work, a 9-5 job, or simply wanting to spend more time with the family, there always seems to be something that pushes the writing to the bottom of the to-do list.
This means that we often have a never-ending list of ideas that we want to write about, but just can’t seem to find the time in our calendars to actually write.
To get over this obstacle, I gave my students from Write More Every Day BETA a simple challenge:
“Just for one week, focus on finding opportunities to write more, rather than reasons not to write”.
What happened during that week was fascinating.
My students started finding new ways to get writing done, some of them which I didn’t even anticipate.
Here are just some of the examples:
- During the commute to work
- During a kid’s swim class
- Waking up 30 minutes earlier to write before work
- While the kids are playing at a playground
- When the spouse is watching TV
- When waiting for the spouse to wake up
- During a fresh block of time after a cancelled coaching call
- During a long layover at the airport
It wasn’t just the opportunities to write that were creative – the ways in which my students wrote were interesting as well.
Some of them just took their laptop everywhere. Others decided to write on their phones (and even bought bluetooth keyboards that fit in your pocket), while others recorded voice notes that they then got transcribed and converted into blog posts.
We did more than that in our program to carve out more time to write and keep it , but this simple mindset shift of moving from reasons not to write to finding opportunities to write was a game changer for writing more, especially during the times when time was limited.
For just one week, focus on finding creative opportunities to write more, rather than giving in to reasons not to write. You can use the list above as inspiration, but don’t be afraid to test your own ideas as well. See what happens!
Myth #2: “I can only write when I feel like it”
It’s easy to write when you’re full of energy and inspiration, and have a clear idea of what you’ll write in your head.
But what about when you don’t feel like it?
- What about when you’re tired?
- What about when you have a bad day?
- What about when you don’t feel inspired to write?
In those cases, just sitting down to write can feel like pulling teeth.
Now here’s the problem.
If you ONLY write when you feel like it (in the perfect conditions, when all the stars align), you’re likely to have times when you write A LOT in seemingly no time, followed by dry-spells of no writing that can take days, weeks or even months.
And in the long run, you know that those dry spells will hurt you.
Ideas what to write about will keep piling up in your head, but they won’t be going out into the world, and they won’t be growing your business.
Then, a few months, you’ll look back at how much you’ve written and feel sick in your stomach, knowing that you could have written more.
Writing just when you feel like it or when inspiration strikes is not the best solution if you want to write consistently.
Because even if you do everything “by the book”, from getting enough sleep to eating well to having a distraction-free writing environment, there will STILL be times when you have a bad day, and won’t feel like writing.
To help my students get better at writing when they don’t feel like it, I encouraged them to adopt a professional attitude for a week.
Think of a professional basketball player who plays in the NBA.
They need to show up for practice every day, regardless of how they feel. If they have a headache, they still need to practice. If they have a bad day, they still need to practice. If they have to do a lot of media interviews, they still need to practice. If they’re tired from playing 3 matches in 3 days, they still need to practice.
They can’t just rely on practicing when they “feel like it”, as that probably wouldn’t make them very good basketball players.
Instead, they show up day after day and give it their all, regardless of how they feel.
And on better days when they’re full of energy, their all might be more than on days when they feel like they were hit by a bus. But those days that aren’t great when they keep pushing and moving forward ultimately help them become as good as they are.
If writing is a core part of our business, why would we treat our writing practice any differently than sportsmen treat their practice?
My thinking is that we shouldn’t. We want to show up every day and give it our all, whether our all on that day means writing a kick-ass blog post or a sales page, or writing some crappy copy for an hour that will never get published.
Here’s the good news (that almost nobody talks about).
As I paid attention to my own writing habits and analyzed over 2,000 writing sessions from my students, I realized an interesting phenomenon.
When we tracked out writing sessions, we always tracked 2 different metrics:
- How energized we feel (measured before writing)
- How focused we feel (measured after writing as we reflect on our writing session)
I expected these metrics to line up (for example, if I feel like my energy is 3/5, my focus should also be 3/5), but I couldn’t be more wrong.
By looking through the data carefully, I realized that:
- If you are SUPER tired (energy 1-2), your sessions will indeed be shorter and less focused (though there ARE a handful of sessions when you’ll get in the zone and become super focused)
- If you are TIRED (energy 3), you’ll have A LOT of very focused sessions once you just sit down and start writing, where your focus will be between a 4 and a 5.
- If you are FULL OF ENERGY (energy 4-5), you’ll have a lot of very focused sessions, but also a handful sessions where you can’t focus for long because your mind keeps racing to other things.
We’ve seen a similar pattern across most of our students in Write More Every Day BETA.
This helps us come to a few conclusions:
- If you’re SUPER TIRED (jetlagged, running on 2 hours of sleep, or after a 12-hour work day), it is indeed harder to get in the zone than if you’re less tired.
- If you’re TIRED, just sitting down to write is harder than if you’re full of energy, and you’ll often get in the zone and forget that you’re tired ONCE you actually start writing.
- If you’re FULL OF ENERGY, it is indeed the easiest to get started with writing, but you might have some sessions where the excess energy will keep your mind racing and distract you from writing for hours on end.
The biggest insight for me here is the #2 (that we can actually get writing done when we’re tired).
In fact, for 80% of my writing sessions, the energy levels are between 3 and 4, with my focus being between a 4 and a 5.
This tells us that “I don’t feel like writing” is really more of an excuse not to write than a real reason not to get started. What we’re really just saying is “I don’t feel like sitting down to write”.
That’s when we can use the professional attitude to sit down to write anyway, even if it’s just for 10 minutes – just to see what happens. Then, once we get started, the we’ll often forget that we’re tired, get in the zone, and let the words flow.
I could tell you all about the data I collected, but what will REALLY help you see that you can write when you’re tired is experiencing it yourself.
Next time you feel “too tired to write”:
- Write down your energy level before you start writing
- Use the “professional attitude” to write for just 10 minutes
- If you get in the zone, keep writing even after the 10 minutes
- At the end, write down your focus during the session
If you go through this exercise a few times, you’ll soon see patterns emerging, and you’ll internalize that you CAN indeed have great writing sessions even when you don’t feel like writing.
Myth #3: “I’m a slow writer”
When I surveyed my readers in the survey I did about writing, I asked them what kind of a writer they best identify themselves as:
What’s interesting is that over 30% of the people who filled out the survey (maybe even more if you count the ones that said that they “can’t get themselves to write at all”) identified themselves as “slow writers”.
In Write More Every Day BETA, I decided to put that hypothesis to the test and see if people actually ARE slow writers, and more importantly, if we can learn how to write FASTER.
I’ve always considered myself a “fast writer”, but I didn’t think that was something I was born with.
- I remember spending hours and hours on a computer in primary school playing a touch typing game that taught me how to type faster, which I knew helped my typing speed (which in turn helped my writing speed).
- I remember that writing a 25,000-word Ultimate Guide took me 6 months the first time I did it, something I was able to replicate in less than 2 weeks the last time I wrote an Ultimate Guide.
- I remember doing an experiment where I just wrote without editing and wrote 2,000 words per hour, while combining writing with editing lead to a measly 500 words per hour, or 4x slower writing.
That’s why I wanted to see if there are ways to help my readers write faster as well, and get to the bottom of what’s slowing down their writing.
In one of the earlier weeks in the program, I introduced the concept of “bottlenecks”.
My theory was that nobody is truly a “slow writer”, but that we all have some sort of a limiting factor that is the “bottleneck” that slows down our writing.
I decided to put that theory to the test by sharing 6 different types of “bottlenecks” with my students, and giving them tools to help them remove them.
I let them use these tools for a month, then looked back at the stats to compare how their writing speed changed over the course of a month (I compared their average writing speeds in September with their average writing speeds in October).
The results were fascinating:
- Within a month, 73% of my students increased their writing speed
- On average, the students wrote 28% faster
- Some students increased their writing speeds by as much as 46-83%
This means that if my students spent 10 hours per week on writing, they could now write the same amount of content in less than 8 hours a week, saving 2 hours a week for more writing, other tasks in their business or simply to have more free time.
But that’s not where the story ends. The actual writing was just one of the bottlenecks of the writing process.
Throughout the program, we identified that two HUGE bottlenecks were:
- Spending too much time in the editing phase
- Combining the idea generation, research, outlining, writing, and editing into one process, rather than separating these processes into different tasks
By removing these bottlenecks, we were able to drastically cut down the time it took to go from an idea to a published blog post (many students reported speeding up their editing process by 30% or more, sometimes saving themselves WEEKS of editing time).
At the end of the program, I concluded that:
- It IS possible to learn how to write faster, and it doesn’t require months of rigorous touch typing practice
- Most people aren’t actually “slow writers”, they are slow editors or try to combine the writing process with editing, which drastically slows them down
The bottom line is that there’s really no such thing as being a “slow writer”, it’s more that we all have certain bottlenecks that slow down our writing. If we remove them, we can all learn how to write faster – and it’s easier than you think.
If you consider yourself a “slow writer”, pay attention to which parts of your writing process feel exceptionally slow:
- Is it just getting started with writing? If yes, could you create an outline of the article you want to write to speed it up?
- Is it the actual writing? If yes, why? Is it that you’re a slow typer (can you learn how to type faster?) That you get lost and don’t know what to write next (can you create a more detailed outline)?
- Is it the editing? If yes, how could you edit faster? Are there parts of your editing process that are very time consuming, boring or draining but don’t help you make your content 10x better? Could you trim down your editing process?
Start paying attention to which part of your writing process is the slowest, and start working on it – and you’ll find yourself writing faster and saving hours and hours each week.
Throughout my writing experiment in Write More Every Dat BETA, I’ve put many writing myths to the test in order to get to the bottom of what REALLY helps us write more, better and faster.
I learned that the “conventional wisdom” when it comes to writing is not necessarily true, and that there are a lot of things out there that many people never talk about (like that you’ll be tired most of the time when you write, but that won’t prevent you from being focused while writing).
Most importantly, I learned that it is possible to become a better writer in every single aspect of writing.
You can learn how to write better content. You can learn how to write faster. You can become more consistent with writing, even when you don’t feel like writing or don’t have the time to write.
I’m really excited about these findings because I feel like nobody really talks deeply about writing in the online business space and runs such detailed experiments, and I feel like I can really help you improve your writing game and put more of your ideas into the world.
What about you? Which writing myths have you discovered?
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