Make Content Magic with Deliberate Imitation and a Simple Kitchen Timer


by Sean D'Souza Your target audience isn’t interested in reading 5,000 articles from you. They’ll read one and decide whethe...

Your target audience isn’t interested in reading 5,000 articles from you.

They’ll read one and decide whether or not to stick around. If the article’s message resonates with them, they might read a second, maybe a third. And then they’ll naturally subscribe to your email list or sign up for your membership site to stay connected with you.

That’s why instead of churning out great volumes of content, we should focus on “making magic” with every article we write.

But making content magic isn’t easy, especially when you’re just starting out.
At first, we have good taste — and can recognize professional, remarkable content — but we don’t have the ability to write at our level of taste.
How can we overcome this frustrating situation and produce writing that matches the quality of the content we like to consume?

Take a look at this video, which puts the words of This American Life host Ira Glass into motion.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

To close the gap between our taste and our ability — to create “magic” content — we have to write deliberately, and we have to write a lot.

It’s easier to write a lot when we write faster. In the next sections, we’ll cover:
  • How to write with purpose
  • How to write faster

First, copy a writing style you admire

Select a writer whose work you love and start copying their writing style. Don’t plagiarize them; simply mimic their style.

If you look at the style of a tennis player, musician, or writer, you’ll see that they’ve all copied their idols. And in doing so, they’ve closed the gap between their tastes and their abilities.

That’s what I did when I first started in 2002. I felt I knew how to write, but I wasn’t terribly confident, so I copied a style of writing I enjoyed for several weeks.
The way to copy a style is to read a lot of material from the writer you like, and then write your content as if you were that writer.
When you’ve mastered that writer’s style, it’s time to switch gears. Copy someone else’s work for a while, then a third person’s work, and so on.

One day, you will have closed the gap between your content taste and your writing ability.

Next, work on speed

When I started writing articles, it would take me two days to complete 600 to 800 words.

At the end of those two days, I wasn’t sure whether or not the work was worth the effort. Then in 2003, something unusual happened. I started a membership site and promised clients that I’d write five articles each week.

I’d seen other membership sites publish several articles a week, and so in the spirit of “copying a style,” I adopted that publishing schedule.

And I found that when I had a fixed deadline, I was able to write a lot more. I had no clue if anyone was reading the articles (these were the very early days of the internet), but I kept writing and my speed kept improving.

How quickly can you increase your speed?

Possibly fewer than 12 weeks. At Psychotactics, we offer an Article Writing course. While our participants did write frequently, they’d take between three and four hours to write an article (one student even said he took four weeks).
When you time your writing sessions, you’ll start writing faster.
I had to write an article every single weekday for my membership site. Because I also had to run a consulting business, I had less than 90 minutes to complete an article.

And so, day after day, I’d:
  • Read the work of just one writer until I could feel the writer’s words pulse through my veins.
  • Outline my article and write until I ran out of time.
  • Quality-check the article and publish it.

Don’t fear the gap; work to close it

Today, there may be a gap between your taste in content and your writing ability, but don’t get discouraged.
Believing that others have more talent than you is not going to get you anywhere.
The deliberate practice of copying a writing style you admire and timing your writing sessions will help you move forward. Like two rivers meeting and mingling together, the styles will merge to create a whole new style that’s unique to you.

Don’t let perfectionism get in the way. Invest in a timer to limit your writing sessions.

Make content magic with your own unique style

You may believe you need hundreds of articles on your website to impress your target audience, but you don’t.

All of the articles you write are just your journey toward sharpening your writing abilities and speed.

What types of writing practices help you along your journey? Share in the comments below.




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#DIGITAL: Make Content Magic with Deliberate Imitation and a Simple Kitchen Timer
Make Content Magic with Deliberate Imitation and a Simple Kitchen Timer
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