Writing? Break It Up

August 11, 2020  •  Creating Content

It’s time to write a new blog post. You pour some coffee, sit down, and open a fresh Word document. Then you sit. And stare. And sit some more. As the clock ticks by, you can’t help but wonder, why does something so simple feel so hard?

You need to find a way to get in the zone and stay there. But how?

Find Your Flow

If you’ve ever watched baseball during the playoffs or the final round of a golf tournament, you’ve no doubt heard commentators talk about “the zone.” At a clutch moment in time, athletes will occasionally settle into a rhythm of play in which it seems they can do no wrong. For sports fans, these serendipitous moments are the stuff of lore, and for researchers, it’s a scientific pursuit.

Writers can get into the zone, too. Maybe you know this feeling—when something seemingly takes over and the ideas come so fast you can barely keep up. Psychologists call that your “flow state,” and that cocktail of ideas, energy, and focus is when you do your best work—but if you get stuck on your first paragraph you’ll never reach the flow state.

Once you reach that flow state, you need to just keep typing. Your flow state comes to a hard stop the minute you overthink your content or stop to edit your grammar or punctuation.

Break It Down

The key to maintaining your flow is to only focus on one thing at a time. And you may be thinking, “that’s what I do!” Except that’s not exactly true.

Jeff Goins broke this down in a Platform University masterclass on writing killer content, where he explains that the writing process is actually a collection of three distinct activities:

  • Ideation
  • Drafting
  • Editing

We get stuck and the writing process becomes difficult when we try to mix those activities together, because they each require different mental models and leverage different parts of the brain.

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The model Jeff Goins laid out is what we teach all our Platform University students, which is to break your writing process down into three distinct “buckets” of content, and only work on one at a time.

Here’s a closer look at how you can break your writing up to stay in the flow:

  1. Ideation. Think of this as the planning stage in which you determine what you’re going to write about and when. This is also the time to do research. To add a visual aid to this process, we recommend using tools like Asana or Trello to create a content calendar.
  2. Drafting. This is when you start writing. Perfection is not the goal here. All you need to do is start, put words on the screen (or paper, if that’s your thing), and not stop until you’ve finished. Good, bad, messy, it doesn’t matter. Just get it done, and leave it alone until the next step.
  3. Editing. Now you return to your draft to do a couple of things. First, read it—preferably out loud—to see if your work flows naturally. This is also a great way to catch typos like missing words and run-on sentences. Second, delete the parts that feel out of place or unnatural. Third, check your formatting, adding headers, bullet points, bold or italic type, or whatever else helps add emphasis and clarity to your content.

This 3-bucket system is a game-changer for many writers. By compartmentalizing your work, you approach each phase with fresh eyes and perspective, dramatically improving the quality of your work while reducing your time writing. We call this a win.

About John Meese

John leads a team focused on simplifying online marketing for professionals as the Dean of Platform University and lives in Columbia, Tennessee, with his wife and three beautiful children. You won't find him on social media, but you can connect to him personally on his blog: