I once wrote a play. Well actually I wrote a lot of scenes and found myself laying them out all over my bed trying to sort them in some sort of sequence. (This was before computers). It was the only way I could take what had emerged from my imagination and make any sense out of it.
Of course, now I know better. Even now if simply start writing content as I get inspired, I find it much, much harder to organize than if I had a plan in the first place. Being able to see the overview of what you are going to create is actually a talent, but it is also a skill you can learn. Here’s my method.
Find your core message
Why are you writing this? What one point do you wish to make above all else? I’ll use the example of a book I’m working on now. It’s “How to Write Magnetic Sales Pages.” My purpose is to create a ebook/workbook that helps people pull their ideas and phrases from their subconscious and put it into a specific structure in order to create a compelling sales page. That makes sense. This core message is the clothes line that will go from beginning to end upon which I will hang my points, one chapter “clothes pin” at a time.
Find your beginner’s mind
Who are you writing to? How much do they know? What foundational material do you have to include in order to orient them to your content? I’m beginning my book with information on why people buy. That makes sense. We’re writing sales pages to get people to purchase so understanding that process is an invaluable foundation upon which to build.
Build your path
Lay out your stepping stones. What do they need to know next? What after that? These are your chapter headings. Don’t worry about the name for them, just get the idea. In my case, I need for people to get very clear about the purpose of their sales page so I have organized my chapters and exercises to help them make internal decisions that will affect their content. It takes them step-by-step to a finished product.
Choose your equipment
What “tools” will your readers need in order to reach the conclusion you are taking them toward? Again, in my example, it’s fairly easy to see. We have to talk about the mechanics of creating content – headlines, subheads, keywords, the circular paragraph, etc. Fill your reader’s toolkit before you move on.
The key question
Now comes the magic organizer. Imagine that you have just mapped out a nature walk. You have posted signs along the path to mark the places you will stop and discuss with your students the scene before them. Why did you choose one viewing point rather than another? You have to know exactly what you want them to learn. The most powerful phrase you can ask yourself is “Students leave with an understanding of….” If you place that question at the beginning of every chapter heading you have created and answer it, your content will practically write itself.
The first time I created a Table of Contents for the Magnetic Sales Page book I found that on one chapter heading, when put in the line “Students leave with an understanding of….” I had to answer it with “I have no clue.” Needless to say I rearranged that particular point.
This key question is a powerful measuring stick for making certain your content is heard and understood.
Review your overview From your work so far, create your table of contents and look it over for a logical sequence. Do you need to move the chapter on one topic higher up? Have you answered a question in another place? Do chapters need to be combined? Remember your beginner’s mind and build your case one logical sequential step at a time. Look at your core “clothesline” theme. Look at the “garment” chapters you have hung on that line. If you have made your point, if you know what your students will leave with an understanding of… start writing.
Are they students or readers? We all want to be heard. We don’t write unless we want to communicate. Whether it is fiction, a how to book or a sales page, we want our content to be understood, So of course, we want to make our point. For me a reader can be a casual observer. A student, on the other hand, really wants to “get it.” That’s why I use “Students leave with an understanding of…” and let my content write itself.
Cara Lumen, The Vision Distiller, helps pro-active entrepreneurs translate their passion into a profitable presence on the internet. As a content strategist she guides you to copy that compels and sells. Her own information products are noted for their clarity and richness. Through The Magnetic Marketing Method she offers innovative, inexpensive, and impactful ideas for internet marketing, content strategy, and signature product development. Find more articles like this in The Success Magnets Emagazine at www.caralumen.com