We’re all writers! What are your 2018 Writers’ Resolutions?

Here’s something we can all agree on, no matter if you’re a school updating your website, a small ministry creating a new brochure, or just posting social media updates for your organization:

The effectiveness of these efforts at communication and persuasion boils down to the quality of your content.

Communication is an ever-adapting field, so keeping your writer’s toolkit updated is a must—especially if you are posting your writing on websites, blogs, or social media.

Try out these categorized resources that come highly recommended by top-performing copywriters.
(Adapted from an existing article to best suit the needs & budgets of Seventh-day Adventist churches, schools, ministries, or individual online missionaries)

Ideation

Whether you’re persuading donors to give again, promoting an event, writing an online devotional or trying to think of your next blog post, sometimes you need a little something extra to get your creative juices flowing.

Tapping into your life experiences is awesome, but tapping into others’ experiences is equally as awesome. Here are some tools to use to find out what people are discussing regarding your topic at hand.

Quora.com

This question-and-answer social media network can be an idea source. Search for your topic, or related topics, and see what people are asking about. What’s perplexing them? What types of answers are they looking for?

Knowing the right questions to answer can help outline your writing and instill it with a renewed sense of purpose.

GotQuestions.org

This is a site dedicated to spiritual questions about God, life, the Bible, and more. If you’re wanting a new approach for faith-based content, a few searches here will give you insight into what questions are being asked, what subjects are often misunderstood—and how people are answering them! You may be able to find a gap you can easily fill with your organization’s purpose and expertise.

Answerthepublic.com

This search tool is based on both Google and Bing’s auto-suggest function. It allows you to type in topics or phrases and receive an aggregated view of related questions people are actually typing into search engines.

It’s quite amusing to use, too. You might want to watch the clock. Rabbit hole alert!

BuzzSumo

If your organization is promoting content in a highly-competitive arena, or your ecommerce success depends on website traffic, you may want to spring for this subscription tool.

Yes, it’s expensive. $99 per month. But if your content marketing or social media efforts dictate the success of sales or donations, it might be worth the investment.

BuzzSumo is a wellspring of ideas because it shows which topics people are actively showing an interest in. For example, it shows you trending content, industry influencers, what’s being highly shared on the topic, what’s being shared from specific domains, and who is linking to content.

Fortunately, if you’re not quite sure if you should take the plunge, you can test drive it for 14 days without paying for a subscription.

 

Capturing and Recalling Ideas (Swipefile)

Don’t waste your ideation efforts by forgetting to file them! Here are some tools that can help you develop a system for your swipefile, allowing easy recall when you need your saved info.

Evernote

Widely popular, Evernote allows you to create topical notebooks. Then you add individuals notes within each notebook. Type in notes or record them, and clip articles and images directly from websites. Upload files. Scan images.

It’s also searchable. You can keep everything in one place and organize it topically.

The app makes it accessible on your phones and tablets as well, so you can capture ideas even when you’re not at your desk.

There are both free and paid tiers. Try the free and see what you think.

The Idea Journal

No, it’s not the name of a brand or an app. We’re talking about an actual journal.

Many writers already keep journals in one form or another. But often when it comes to finding ideas, you have to leaf through a lot of material (especially if you’ve acquired multiple journals over the years).

Here’s a way to solve that problem.

First, dedicate a journal to capturing ideas. Nothing else goes in that journal except for ideas to use in the future.

Second, only capture one idea per page.

Third, on the back page of the journal, list the topics most of your ideas fall under, one topic per line. This is your index.

Fourth, when you write down an idea, at the edge of the page, black out the line that corresponds to the matching topic in your index. Then you’ll be able to find ideas by topic at a glance, using your index.

Pinterest

You may already use Pinterest for recipes, outfit ideas, decor, crafts, kids activities, etc., but you can also devote a board to your creative swipefile.

If you read a great article about trimming your paragraphs or using power words, pin it to your new Writing board.

 

Tricks to Writing Faster

Being able to write faster results in a huge increase in productivity. Whether it’s actually typing faster or finding a way to stay on topic and stop interrupting your flow to edit misspellings, anything that keeps you in the writing “zone” will help you get more done.

Typing.com

Becoming a faster typist helps you become a faster writer almost automatically because your thoughts move much faster than your fingers can.

To help your hands catch up with your brain, or at least gain on it a little, typing.com lets you take a free test to measure how fast you type—then you can play a variety of games meant to improve your typing skill.

How much difference does this make?

If you type 50 words per minute right now, you can potentially write a 1000-word article in 20 minutes, provided you don’t have to pause for thinking time. Increase your typing speed to 70 words per minute and the same article will take 15 minutes to write.

Five minutes may not be much—except, if you’re saving five minutes out of every hour, you’re gaining half an hour to 40 minutes back in your day.

Write or Die

Aside from a better typing speed, a surefire way to boost your writing time is to stop editing as you god. When you edit as you write, you’re constantly switching between your right and left brain…and you never really get into the flow of writing. YOu never really achieve that megical headspace where you thought organize effortlessly, the words come without coaxing, and life is beautiful.

So it’s worthwhile to train yourself to write when you’re writing and to edit when you’re editing, and not to attempt to do both simultaneously.

For that kind of training, enter Write or Die.

It has an ominous name because if you don’t keep writing, you’ll suffer consequences. YOu get to choose the consequences, from annoying music to creepy spiders crawling across your screen to a monster that eats your words. In the latest update (still in testing) the monster eats all your vowels (he “disemvowels” your words!).

Sound a little uncomfortable? It is. But it’s also effective. If you want to get better about sticking with writing when you’re supposed to be writing, this tool is excellent.

 

Working on the Right Project at the Right Time.

You likely have lots of projects going on simultaneously. A good organizational tool is thus essential.

Trello

Hands down, this is the most easy-to-use free organizational tools. It also appeals to those who are visual (which is most people).

Create project “cards” and assign them to columns, such as To Do, In Progress, and Complete. You can also create custom columns to fit the needs of specific projects, and separate them into different boards.

You can look at your Boards view to see how many active projects you have going, and click on each project’s Board for an easy overview of where each tasks is at.

Within each card you can create a checklist, attach files, link to Google docs, set due dates, and even share the card with other people involved in the project.

Simple yet powerful.

Wunderlist

Here is another highly recommended organizational tool meant to help you organize everything from the work project you have due at the end of the month to the bills you need to pay this week to the office party you’re planning tomorrow.

For each of these tasks, create a to-do list and give items on the list target dates.

You can access Wunderlist from your computer or phone to quickly see what’s highest on your list in terms of due dates, and also what’s coming up next.

 

Polishing Your Work

After generating ideas, capturing them and writing about them, you’re ALMOST ready to put them out there. But you don’t always have a copyeditor at a moment’s notice. These tools are the next best thing.

Hemingway

Hemingway App is a favorite app among writers. It analyzes your writing for readability, long sentences, difficult sentences, passive sentence, and more. Problem spots are color-coded and easy to find so you have the option of reviewing them and deciding if you need to make changes or not.

ProWritingAid

This tool analyzes your writing for grammar mistakes, repetition, hard-to-read sentences, sentence variation and more.

It also gives you explanations as to why it highlights something as a problem, and in some cases makes suggestions for improving the flow of words.

 

As writers, we’re living in a pretty amazing time. There are so many tools available that, when used correctly, can make your work stronger. Give these a try—then comment if you liked them or not, or if you have some of your own to recommend!

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