writing productivity

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Productivity with Pamela Rosen & Forrest Bryant of Evernote

Let’s face it… Writing is no easy task. From brainstorming ideas, to actually getting them out on paper (or on your computer screen), and then editing everything, it can sometimes be a stressful process that takes a while to complete. Fortunately, in this week’s chat, we shared some amazing tips for writing productivity that will help you tackle your writing tasks with ease.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Productivity with Pamela Rosen & Forrest Bryant of Evernote

Our guest hosts this week were Pamela Rosen and Forrest Bryant, who are both part of the amazing Evernote team. Pamela is a Senior Copywriter for Evernote and Forrest is their Director of Content. Since they’re both experienced writers and content creators, they were the perfect fit to share some writing productivity tips with everyone in the chat.

Q1: What does writing productivity look like to you?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share what writing productivity looks like to them. Check out their responses and see if any of these resonate with you:

For Forrest, writing productivity is a state of flow. He said it requires clarity, purpose, and direction. And of course, it’s not all about how much content you’re able to create. It’s more important to focus on the quality and the value of the content you’re writing.

Pamela said writing productivity is being able to get into the zone. When you get to that state where the words are flowing freely and you don’t have any distractions, it’s always a great place.

Jeff is absolutely right that it isn’t about how much you get done, but how well you do it. You have to come up with a schedule and processes that work for YOU, not anyone else.

Tara, our Content Development Specialist, writes in productive phases. These phases include researching, drafting content, editing, and then publishing.

Tony feels productivity is about getting his writing assignments done at a good time. This means there’s no time to procrastinate!

Jeremy knows it’s helpful to block out distractions when you have writing to be done. If you just focus on your writing, as opposed to multitasking, you’ll be much more productive.

Sorry to say it, but writing productivity also means ditching Netflix for a while as you get work done.

Olivia knows that passion, focus, and efficiency are three very important factors of the writing process. And she’s right that a little excitement about the task at hand helps too!

Q2: Which strategies do you implement when writing content for your brand?

When it comes time to write content, which strategies do you rely on to get things done and do them well? Check out what some of our chat participants do when writing:

Pam shared a great reminder that everyone should keep in mind when writing content. You always need to be human and real because you are speaking to actual people. Another human being is going to be reading your content and you want to create something that resonates with them. To do that, focus on engaging your audience and adding value.

It’s helpful to ask yourself if you would want to read the content you’ve created. If not, you should start over. While everything you write needs to appeal to your audience, it also needs to appeal to you as well.

Forrest said you need to make sure every piece of content delivers value to your reader and/or generates excitement. Before you hit publish, ask yourself if it’s serving your audience in some way. If not, you probably need to revisit what you’ve written.

Gabriela’s writing process looks something like this: getting inspiration, researching the topic and audience, outlining the content, scribbling down her thoughts, writing, and then editing.

Great questions to ask before making a blog post live: Does this benefit my readers? Does it fit with our goals? Is it easy to read/visually appealing? Everything you publish should benefit your reader in some way, but should also help your brand reach an end goal. You also want to make sure the content itself is easy to read and visually appealing, otherwise people just won’t bother.

Be authentic, transparent, and engaging!

Shawn relies on Evernote to help him through the writing process. He creates folders for every project that he’s working on. These folders house notes, research, and ideas. It’s perfect for staying organized!

Q3: How do you brainstorm content ideas and store them to review later?

Content creation all starts with the same step: brainstorming ideas. In Tuesday’s chat, we asked everyone to share their brainstorming tips and how they store ideas to come back to at a later time. After all, we can’t risk forgetting those genius ideas that come out of nowhere!

Forrest said he brainstorms throughout the day. Whenever an idea pops up, he puts it right into Evernote so he knows where to find it later. Eventually, those ideas he saved gets fleshed out into a full piece of content. He begins adding links when needed to support information and turns it into a rough outline.

Pamela knows the value of a team that collaborates, as that’s what they do at Evernote. They share and evaluate ideas together, which is a great way to brainstorm.

And as Pamela said, not all ideas are good. Sometimes you’ll find that something doesn’t fit your brand or audience or maybe it needs to come to life in a different format than you were anticipating. You have to take the time to separate the good ideas from the bad ones. Having a team by your side is a huge help for this!

Just like Forrest, I also rely on Evernote to store ideas. Whenever an idea for a blog post comes up, I save it in an Evernote notebook dedicated to any ideas that come up. I have a specific note that’s solely for blog posts and it’s organized by topic. This ensures I always know where to go to find that idea I had come up with.

For Elizabeth, brainstorming happens as she’s just going about her daily life. She knows that inspiration can strike at any time, so you just have to be open to letting those ideas flow.

Since you never know when inspiration could strike, it always helps to have a notebook and pen on hand. (Or your phone!) Maggie likes to keep a Moleskine notebook in her handbag and jots down any ideas that come up.

You just might want to keep a notebook beside your bed in case inspiration strikes in the middle of the night!

For Lexie, she relies on sticky notes and Trello to brainstorm and store ideas.

At ThinkSEM, the team has brainstorming chats. They then put al of their ideas into a Google doc. Once they’ve planned out the timing for their content, it goes into the final editorial calendar.

Shannon also brainstorms and prioritizes ideas as a team. They then work on the best ideas and shelve others for later, while ditching the ones that just won’t work.

Q4: What does your writing process look like? Any secrets you can share?

Have you ever wanted to get an inside look into the writing process of other content creators? Here’s your chance! This is what some of our chat participants do to create amazing content:

Pamela chooses not to outline her content first. This is the perfect example of why it’s important to do what works best for you. If you need to outline your content, go for it! Otherwise, you can skip this step if you find that it doesn’t help your overall process.

On the other hand, Forrest does take the time to outline his content, but he keeps those outlines rough. He feels it gives him direction, but also the freedom to let everything develop as he writes.

For Jeff, he relies on having a set schedule to get his writing done. He creates a schedule of due dates in Asana and then works in phases to complete tasks. This is one great strategy to encourage writing productivity.

Mallorie said a quiet space is a necessity for her. This helps to eliminate distractions that could direct her attention away from writing. She also likes to have a warm cup of tea on hand as well.

Lolitta likes to have a collection of inspiring writing to refer to when needed. It’s a great way to get yourself in that writing mindset and to get you motivated.

When Olivia is passionate about a topic, she likes to dive right in. Sometimes it’s great to start writing something when that idea is still fresh and you’re still excited about it.

Krissy starts by writing out the main points she wants to get across in her content. She brings up a great point that you shouldn’t expect the first draft to be perfect. Instead, focus on getting your ideas out and then edit later.

Q5: How can you best collaborate with a team when it comes to writing?

If you’re working with a team, you know there are advantages and disadvantages to having teammates writing alongside you. Here are some tips to help ensure the collaboration process goes smoothly:

At Evernote, they have a twice-weekly meeting for all writers across the teams. This is a great way to ensure your team stays in touch and is able to easily communicate with one another.

As Pamela said, you should be able to count on one another to make content better. Don’t let any kind of constructive criticism get you down. You want to be open to what others have to say so you can implement their advice and improve your skills.

Lexie agrees about being open to other ideas. You should be willing to take advice that others give you.

Schedule times for brainstorm meetings with your team. Make sure you also give everyone space to speak up and share their thoughts and ideas. Everyone needs to feel safe and willing to speak their mind when the time comes.

Tara relies on a few tools to help her out, including: Trello, Evernote, CoSchedule, and Zoho.

You can brainstorm ideas in real life or via online chats if you’re a remote team. At ThinkSEM, they rely on Google Docs to proof and edit content and they’re sure to stay open to what others have to share.

This is great advice from Jeff. Remember that you’re a team and everyone has their own unique strengths. Don’t be afraid to speak out and share ideas even if they go against what everyone else is saying.

You can form ideas separately, but be sure to come together to discuss what you’ve come up with. You can pitch ideas, discuss, and collaborate with one another for everything to come together.

You also have to be willing to separate the good and bad ideas so you know what’s truly right for you to pursue.

Q6: When are you most productive at writing? What time of day do you write? Where do you like to write?

There are all kinds of factors that influence our writing productivity, including when and where we write. It’s helpful to consider what time of day you’re most productive for more involved tasks like writing and also the environment around you. Here’s what works for some of the participants in this week’s chat:

Forrest likes to be alone and away from his desk when it’s time to write. He also likes to have some jazz music playing in the background. Coffitivity is also great for giving you those cafe vibes from the comfort of your own home.

Pamela said she’s definitely a night owl. She uses the morning for coming up with ideas, but is most productive at nighttime.

It seems the pressure of an impending deadline is what gets Maggie writing. She often finds herself writing late at night before her work needs to be done.

An evening with the lights dimmed and good music sure sounds like a picturesque writing scene, doesn’t it?

Tony said he’s most productive during the middle of the day, but he finds his best ideas pop up when he’s about to go to sleep. All the more reason to keep a notebook and pen by your bed!

Olivia is most productive in the morning when her coffee is still giving her a much needed energy boost.

For Jeremy, running is what gives him some of his best ideas. If you’ve hit a road block, get outside for a walk or run and see if it helps get those creative juices flowing.

Jeff takes every opportunity he gets to write. He writes on his train commute, at work, at home, on the couch, in bed, and anywhere he can. It’s all about seizing the opportunity when inspiration strikes.

Gabriela is the same way. She writes whenever inspiration strikes!

Q7: Which tools do you rely on to stay on track with your writing tasks? How can Evernote help you?

There are plenty of tools available today that can help with writing productivity. Evernote is just one of those handy tools! Here are a few other suggestions and tips on how Evernote can help you out:

Forrest keeps it simple when it comes to writing tools. He uses Evernote to outline content, create to-do lists, store research, and write drafts. Even when he receives Word documents, PDFs, and Google Doc links, he adds those to Evernote.

Pamela loves using cloud-based tools so she can work from anywhere. Evernote and Google Docs allow you to do this with ease.

For me, I like to write blog post drafts in Evernote. WordPress has crashed in the past, causing me to lost an entire post, so I never write there.

Julia uses Zoho and Google Docs for collaborative writing, Google Calendar for reminders, and Evernote for note taking.

Lolitta relies on both Google Docs and Evernote for blog and social media writing.

Mallie is a big fan of the Pomodoro technique and relies on a timer to keep her focused and on task.

Shannon relies on Google Calendar to keep her on track with tasks that need to be completed.

Gabriela turns to social media to get feedback from her audience.

Zala uses Evernote to store ideas and for writing.

A helpful reminder: know what’s best for YOU. The tool that works for someone else might not be the ideal one for your needs. It’s okay to test out a few to see what works best.

Q8: What final tip can you offer to help others step up their productivity when it comes to writing?

Last call for final tips! Before we ended the chat, we gave everyone the chance to share their top tip for others to walk away with. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Block off time in your calendar for writing so you know you have ample time to get it done.

As Forrest said, the first draft is always crap. You can’t expect the first draft of a blog post to be perfect. That’s what the editing phase is for. Instead, you should focus on getting the content out and editing once you’ve completed your writing.

He also suggests taking time for self-care with breaks, walks, meditation, and plenty of laughter.

Shannon agrees with Forrest and encourages you to not obsess over perfection. You can fix up your content in the editing process or have an editor handle it for you.

Another reminder to quit seeking perfection. Jeremy said you need to focus on expressing yourself.

Be passionate about the topics you’re writing about because it shows through in the final result.

Find the strategies and tools that work best for YOU. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what clicks.

Whether it’s Gary Vaynerchuck or someone else that gets you fired up, a dose of motivation is sure to help you start creating.

Join us live for our #ContentWritingChats! Follow @ExpWriters and join us Tuesdays at 10!

#Contentwritingchat

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