Get Writing Help. Steal My 4-Step Writing Plan.
What You Already Know
Here is what you already know: You would love writing help in the form of an easy-to-follow plan to help you write better…(and communicate better…and lead better…and freak out a little less about planting a church). A writing plan or a writing workflow is a predetermined process you complete when writing content. You are already writing all the time. You do it in short spurts. You do it in long streams. You write whether you love it or not. But with so many things swirling around you and demanding your time, you feel helpless to do create your own writing workflow or plan. You have no idea what an ‘easy-to-follow writing plan’ is and lack the time, effort, or energy to change. You want writing help, but where does a church planter or pastor turn?
But what if a certain somebody—his name rhymes with “Lobby Scowler”—offered help writing in the form of a writing workflow? Pre-made. Served up. Ready to execute. Ripe for implementation. Action. Now.
What You Do Not Know
You are unsure or unaware of the “write” resources to help you establish a killer writing workflow. We can take care of that in the next few minutes. By the end of this article, you will smack yourself for not knowing that a writing workflow would cost you so little and save you so much. Last time we saw that a writing workflow can save time and save face.
My Writing Workflow
Here is my current writing workflow. Each step plays a role in ensuring my content is clear, well written, and mistake-free (as much as I can manage).
Step 1: Plan with a Mind Map, Outline or Pen/Paper
Spend a few minutes planning before you start writing. For the planners in the room, this is a “Yes, and Amen!” For the rest of you socialites, action junkies, and dare devils, stop looking at me like that. I didn’t ask you to make yourself comfortable sitting on my new porcupine chair. I suggested taking a few short minutes and aim before you clack away on the keyboard like a woodpecker on speed. This can be a simple four-part plan.
- Plan your ending with a Call to action (information) or Resolution (story).
- Identify the format as either Information or Story so you know how you would like to proceed.
- Create an enticing hook for the Introduction.
- Layout your main spread of Meat & Potatoes.
This took me less than 7 minutes for this article. This simple planning step keeps me from fumbling for words or direction.
I start with the end in mind (hasn’t somebody said that before?). For writing that is primarily informational, like an upcoming event, I ask myself “What action do I want my audience to take by the end of this?”. For writing stories, like a testimonial or evidence of God’s grace in the life of the church, I ask “What tension do I want to resolve?” I may even use a story to create tension and resolution and then a call to action. Regardless, beginning with the end in your writing frees you to move forward with haste. Funny. We were taught the same thing in our homiletics courses.
Knowing what I want my audience to do, believe, feel, think, etc. helps me choose the best format. Keep it simple. Will a story accomplish this best, or clear information?
Land on a hook in your opening to pull in your audience. If your writing will be informational in nature, what will they learn by the end? Tease it. Going with a story? Get the tension of the plot out early.
Lastly, jot down the main point or points you need to cover. This step is often the easiest, as it represents what motivated you to write in the first place.
Step 2: Write Draft 1 in a Distraction-Free Writing Environment
A distraction-free writing environment is—yep, you guessed it—free from distractions. A typical distraction-free writing app offers limited formatting, no page breaks, and keeps you abreast of key stats like your current word count. You focus on writing instead of stopping to figure out fonts, headings, page breaks, etc. There are a ton of options out there for distraction-free writing. I use Writed for Mac. It’s great and free! Take your plan from step one, put some meat on those bones and save it as Draft 1.
Step 3: Copy/Paste Draft 1 into Hemingway to Correct Poor Writing
Copy your text from Draft 1 and head to Hemingway. Paste your content there and watch any poor writing light up. Hemingway will highlight…
- Difficult to read sentences (Red & Yellow)
- Adverbs (Blue)
- Passive voice
It will also tell an estimated Reading Grade Level and approximate read time. For example, this article has a Grade 7 reading level and a 5 minute read time.
I use Hemingway to highlight the issues above, but I make all of my changes back in Writed, NOT inside Hemingway. Then I save my edits in Writed, which is now Draft 2. (FYI I just keep the same file name rather than save another copy of my document.)
Step 4: Copy/Paste Draft 2 into Grammarly to catch grammatical errors
Copy text from Draft 2 in Writed to Grammarly. I use the free version. It does a fantastic job of catching incorrect “wards”, misplaced commas, and other problems that sneak past most word processors like Word or Pages. Again, I make the changes that Grammarly highlights back in Writed and save it as Draft 3 with the same name.
Final Step: Get Your Final Draft To Your Final Destination
I now have my final version of the content in Writed. I’ve saved it. Now, the free version of Writed exports to PDF, Markdown, or HTML. If you want to get your content to Word or Pages, export your Writed doc into HTML and use Google Drive to import the HTML. Check out this article to learn how fast and easy this is. Again, it’s free Once I have it in Google Drive, I can export it as a Word doc, format it as a Google Doc, or even import the Word doc version into Pages.
I do this when I need Word, Pages, or Google Docs to add significant formatting and styling.
There is my writing workflow in five easy steps. Step 1, create a simple plan. Step 2, write a first draft in Writed, a distraction-free writing app. Step 3, copy/paste into Hemingway app to correct poor writing in minutes (making changes in Writed). Step 4, copy/paste into Grammarly for one final round of checks (making corrections in Writed). And finally, get the final draft to the final destination as a word processing document, blog post, email article, or html.