July 25, 2022 Content Chat Recap: How to Be A More Productive Writer

A Content Chat header image that says today's topic is how to be a more productive writer with guest Kathryn Lang.

A writer is often their own greatest enemy, letting self-doubt or a lack of structure stop them from writing efficiently… or at all. But there are plenty of ways to train yourself each day and set up systems to be a more productive writer.

In this #ContentChat, we’re joined by Kathryn Lang, speaker, author, and teacher, to explore how to maximize our writing productivity and overcome common challenges that writers face. Read the full recap below to learn:

  • Ways to overcome writer’s block
  • Tools for writing efficiently
  • Tips to create more content faster

Q1: What is your biggest blocker or procrastination point when it comes to not writing? Bonus points for sharing how you most frequently procrastinate!

There are many things that stop us from writing, including not knowing how long a project will take…

A1: Biggest procrastination point: Never knowing how long it’s going to take. Some content takes hours while other content you can create in under an hour.#contentchat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) July 25, 2022

Finding the time to write when our schedule is already packed…

A1: Often, when I’m not able to get around to writing, it’s because I have too many to-dos on my mind that keep creeping into focus and demanding my attention.

Then I push it all aside and procrastibake something.#ContentChat https://t.co/hwEYVdAJfm

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

Finding the time to write, blocking the time, opening docs then staring into the infinite scrolling of one app or another looking for inspiration #contentchat

— Thomas Broadus (@TbroOnline) July 25, 2022

Worrying about personal matters…

A1: My biggest blocker when it comes to writing is worrying about finances. Ironically, not writing is the biggest blocker to my income. :D#ContentChat https://t.co/LobUlLLzt2

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Feeling like we need to write everything at once…

A1: My biggest blocker is feeling the need to write everything at once. I have so many stories I get blocked at organizing #contentchat

— Ares Marketing Group (@MarketingAres) July 25, 2022

Not knowing where to start…

A1: My biggest blocker when it comes to not writing is an angle or where to start! My favorite way to procrastinate is prioritizing non priorities #contentchat

— Nimble (@Nimble) July 25, 2022

“Needing” to conduct more prep work…

A1: My biggest procrastination point would for sure be feeling like I have to have everything fully figured out before I start. I give myself reasons to not start. #contentchat

— Diamond (@DRobinson520) July 25, 2022

Lacking sleep…

A1: Agree with earlier response — it’s having other to do’s that creep in & interfere…whether one is well rested makes the world of difference too. If I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I’ll take advantage and work on writing projects. Poor sleep is a writing killer! #ContentChat

— Caroline James (@CAZJAMES) July 25, 2022

Or simply finding the motivation to start.

A1: Inertia is often my biggest writing blocker. I simply have a hard time getting started and will wander my house, check the fridge, pet my dog, get the mail, etc. as a way to procrastinate. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) July 25, 2022

Q2: When or how do you fit writing into your workday or workweek?

Early morning or late at night can be great, distraction-free times to write.

A2: I get most of my free writing (with pen and paper) done when everyone else is asleep – first thing in the morning or late at night.#ContentChat https://t.co/k6WvDz1tZn

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

A2. I do a good chunk of my writing late in the night when not a creature is stirring, not even a…
#ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) July 25, 2022

When I worked a FT job for someone else, I’d make the hour before I had to catch the bus my writing hour. It’s hard to believe I used to be a morning person! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

A2. This is a tough one because the day gets away with emails and meetings which is not conducive for writing — usually aim to block time in the afternoon. Sometimes get started on writing first thing with a fresh mind and fresh plate before the day kicks in. #ContentChat

— Caroline James (@CAZJAMES) July 25, 2022

A2: sorry, coming in late today! Hi everyone 👋👋
When: first half of the day when I’m usually freshest or toward the evening when the afternoon slump has passed
How: block Slack notifications, sit and stare at the doc if I must#ContentChat

— Vuh-suun-dher-ah (She/Her) (@ThisDhara) July 25, 2022

Schedule time on your calendar to brainstorm and write.

A2: I’ve had daily writing sessions blocked on my calendar in the past, to make time for regular blogging. Right now, I have a number of writing projects for clients in the works, so I block chunks of time dedicated to each project throughout the day. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

A2: Add it to my calendar and carve time out for brainstorming and writing! Sometimes brainstorming takes longer than the writing ~Jenna #contentchat

— Nimble (@Nimble) July 25, 2022

A2: I am happiest when I can carve out a whole morning or afternoon (3-4 hours) for writing.

In practice, I usually save writing for Thursdays and Fridays when my PR work is usually slower. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) July 25, 2022

A2: GCal all the way. Turn on those notifications until it gets done 🚀#contentchat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) July 25, 2022

A2: I haven’t had much time to write for personal projects, but I write for my classes weekly. The only way I can do that is to carve time out into my schedule for me to really sit down and focus since since I work and attend school full time! #contentchat

— Diamond (@DRobinson520) July 25, 2022

We had a group of bloggers in the area that use to meet up and have BLOG INS – we’d brainstorm ideas with each other and work to fill out a quarterly calendar.#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

And write at times when you feel most productive.

A2b: I key in content when I’m listening to webinars, podcasts, or Twitter feeds. These are the times when I activate #WordSprints #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/JOegGkFDyj

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Q3: How do you maximize your productivity when writing? What practices do you follow?

Record how many words you’ve written, and set daily or weekly word writing goals.

A3: Accountability makes me the most productive, so I keep a record of my word count. I’ve set up excel sheets where I can log the numbers from my Focus Folder and it’ll keep a running total.#ContentChat https://t.co/dZVYRKLFVo

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

A3: I also like to challenge myself (and others) to word sprints to see how many words I can write in a specific amount of time. It was one of my challenges when I first started doing Twitter Chats.#ContentChat pic.twitter.com/yg1XsVQiDK

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Effectively prepare to write, including researching your topic and outlining the content.

It depends, I would usually start with an outline on google docs, mostly on the go when I have an idea, then will edit it throughout the day, depending on the urgency to publish the article #contentchat

— Irina Graf (@themiceblog) July 25, 2022

A3: Effective outlining, keyword planning, and a standardized work process for producing every piece of content#contentchat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) July 25, 2022

Yes! I create content templates for all my clients to make sure I don’t reinvent the wheel or forget any key elements that need to surround the piece. I also include the planning elements to make it all go more quickly. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

I like content templates. I have printed ones I use to map out my podcast content (that I repurpose into the Twitter Chat, work books, and eBooks). I have them for posts, but haven’t put them to work yet. Maybe this week!#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

A3: keeping distractions out of reach is v imp! Outline a structure cause it’s easy to go on and on. Every time I’m stuck, I go back and read from the beginning. That helps me keep the flow in my head too #ContentChat

— Vuh-suun-dher-ah (She/Her) (@ThisDhara) July 25, 2022

Consider using dictation.

A3: using dictation is becoming very handy for my reports and emails. Should work for books #contentchat

— Ares Marketing Group (@MarketingAres) July 25, 2022

Pay attention to what environments inspire you to be productive, which can include location and atmosphere (like a great playlist).

A3: I get my best writing done when I have the buzz of productivity going on around me in the co-working space. But my writing playlist with a ton of my all-time favorite songs on it also helps me focus.#ContentChat https://t.co/wJcjZbp28d

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

Silence any notifications and remove yourself from distractions.

A3: I usually put in music, usually without words, put my phone on focus mode so only important things come through, and do my best to remove distractions. #contentchat

— Diamond (@DRobinson520) July 25, 2022

And give yourself the chance to write without judging your work. Aim to get a draft done, and then you can edit.

A3: Maximizing productivity while writing is to not think about your writing too hard. Sometimes getting hung up on a certain word or thought can be distracting! ~Jenna #contentchat

— Nimble (@Nimble) July 25, 2022

Q4: What are your strategies or techniques for overcoming writer’s block?

Kathryn uses journals to rant about what’s causing her writer’s block, how she feels about the writer’s block, or to write letters to friends to clear her mind. It’s a great strategy to overcome your challenge!

A4: Journals have always been my go-to choice for breaking a block. The blank pages give me a place to rant about what’s causing the block or about having the block itself.#ContentChat https://t.co/FLs2xSnq20

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

A4b: I also write letters to friends about unrelated topics to clear the mind and refresh the spirit.

Sometimes I dance :D#ContentChat pic.twitter.com/pP5oOFnqeQ

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Step away from your work. Take a walk, grab some food, or get some sleep. You’ll come back with fresh eyes.

A4b: If I’m really stuck on a writing project, I pause what I’m doing and go outside for some fresh air or a walk. If I need inspiration, I go farther afield, such as to a local museum or garden.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

A4: A strategy that’s worked for me when it comes to writer’s block is stepping away and coming back with fresh eyes, it almost always works for me. ~Jenna #contentchat

— Nimble (@Nimble) July 25, 2022

A4: Very cliche, but taking a step back usually helps me. Being able to let go of the frustration of a lack of productivity and refocus. #contentchat

— Diamond (@DRobinson520) July 25, 2022

One of my PR bosses occasionally asks me to write something within the same business day. I remind them that it does not factor enough time for my “creativity power walk and eventual nap.”

Jokes aside, I do need a night away from something before finalizing it. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) July 25, 2022

Consume content from other industries or related to personal interests.

A4: Read/listen to other things. The brain really can find connections in the most unlikely places. We have a flashlight client and while watching a horror movie, I thought, ‘best haunted houses to explore with these flashlights!’ 😂 #ContentChat

— Vuh-suun-dher-ah (She/Her) (@ThisDhara) July 25, 2022

Conduct the appropriate amount of research and prep before sitting down to write, and keep your reference materials handy (Erika uses Evernote). It’s helpful to keep a running list of content topics, too, to accelerate your planning.

A4: I keep a ton of reference material in @evernote so I don’t go down a search rabbit hole. I also have a big list of topics I want to get around to writing about saved in @RedboothHQ. When I’m readyish, I start a draft in WordPress, and add to it over time. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

A4: Keyword research 🤣🍭#contentchat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) July 25, 2022

That can be a big help when you aren’t sure how deep or broadly to approach a topic in particular. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

This occurs later in the evenings. My thoughts are so random, I jot them in my notes app. If I don’t expound on them in the moment. It’s a lost cause for me 🙁 #contentchat

— Ares Marketing Group (@MarketingAres) July 25, 2022

Kathryn sends a weekly list of journaling prompts. Sign up below to receive them!

A4c: I’m sending out a weekly list of journaling prompts if you’re interested: https://t.co/msULJcGqj1

Coming up with prompt ideas prompts more ideas for my writing.

BONUS: We’ll be having a monthly drawing for a free You Can journal.#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Q5: Are there any tools or apps that you use to write more efficiently?

Digital timers keep Kathryn focused during word sprints.

A5: Besides REALLY SHARP pencils, the only tools I use are digital timers. I have one next to my desk set at 25 minutes. That’s what I use for word sprints. And then I take five minutes to stretch or move before going again.#ContentChat https://t.co/BPwGM18A9U

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

The #ContentChat community often recommends CoSchedule’s Headline Studio, Grammarly, and Semrush.

A5: There are a few writing tools I love (and I’m sure the #ContentChat community will mention these, too):
– @CoSchedule’s headline analyzer for writing engaging headlines faster
– @Grammarly for catching typos and grammar errors
– @semrush to help with my writing prep

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) July 25, 2022

A5. These seem to be a recurring theme. My #1 editing tool is @Grammarly. I should use @Semrush more than I do to find content ideas. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) July 25, 2022

You took the words right out of my mouth, Alek! I use these three every single day to make my writing time focused and productive.#ContentChat https://t.co/qkAoD4Lrr2

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

We used to play a family game to see who could score the highest in creating headlines. I’d shout a keyword phrase and the race would be on.#ContentChat pic.twitter.com/Z5Zopckp3j

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Jenna at Nimble recommends LatelyAI.

A5: My favorite tool to help me write content when I’m out of ideas or need inspiration is @LatelyAI ~Jenna #contentchat

— Nimble (@Nimble) July 25, 2022

And Erika uses BuzzSumo to help generate content ideas.

I use @Semrush and @BuzzSumo pretty regularly to help me generate content ideas. Super helpful. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

Q6: If you’re writing a piece of long-form content like an eBook or whitepaper, how do you break up the project and stay on track to meet the deadline?

Write for at least a few minutes multiple times throughout your day.

A6b: My focus on any project is in writing a few minutes and then giving my mind and body a break. I repeat this several times a day and the end result is a lot of words!#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

A6c: I write down the word count for the day on super long-form content (like books) but only count the total words for short form when I’m done with it (anything under 3000 words). It’s easier to keep the records straight that way.#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Create a content outline so you can break up the task section-by-section.

A6: Staying on track for long-form content, I like to outline main details and work from there! I also think time management is key when working on sections and key points. ~Jenna #contentchat

— Nimble (@Nimble) July 25, 2022

If your long-form content will also appear as individual blog posts, write those shorter posts first and then stitch them into the final package.

A6: If I know the piece will need to be individual blog posts, I write those first then stitch them together into the e-book. If someone else is tackling the derivative blog posts, I start from a detailed outline that includes key research, links,and quotes. #ContentChat https://t.co/5xqicpTIPX

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

And if you already have an eBook or print book (or podcast) then you can reverse the process to create many mini-posts.#contentchat #Repurposewin

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Exactly. If you aren’t repurposing and creating derivative content, you’re working too hard! :)#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

Kathryn says that National Novel Writing Month has been foundational in helping her get more words written.

A6: #NaNoWriMo has been foundational in helping me get more words written. Once I realized that doing word sprints several times a day would allow me to write a novel in a month, I was hooked.#ContentChat https://t.co/TBo6fbiUFu

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

I think the Nanowrimo folks have helped so many of us rethink our approach to writing. One. Page. at a Time.
🙂 #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) July 25, 2022

Try out new ideas to find a system that works for you!

A6d: The most important thing is to find a system that works for YOU!#contentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Q7: What tips do you have for fellow writers looking to create more content faster?

Break your writing projects into smaller chunks.

A7: Focus on the little bits: a few minutes here, a paragraph there, and then you have a full post. Repeat these little bits for a week or a month and before you know it you have a book.#ContentChat https://t.co/Jp59MBb8Aj

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Set a timer or create a challenge to encourage you to write faster. Consider creating a chart to visualize your project, and switch tasks as needed to spark new ideas.

A7: Word flow tips:

1.Set a timer
2.Challenge yourself (or compete against others)
3.Make it visual – create a chart
4.Change it up – different projects can spark ideas in other projects
5.Have a hiding space – no interruptions for your sprint time#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) July 25, 2022

Write daily.

A7: Write daily. Some of the best content creators recommend you write daily to hone your writing ability (just like any sport or skill). I try to write at least 45 minutes a day and over time I’ve become more efficient with my writing. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) July 25, 2022

Consume diverse content in your everyday life to inspire innovation in your writing.

A7: Just write. Don’t judge the earliest versions.
Read a lot of different things including product packages, magazines, road signs, everything!
These help when you need to shift tone between clients or when you feel stuck for opening lines #ContentChat

— Vuh-suun-dher-ah (She/Her) (@ThisDhara) July 25, 2022

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