(Note: This is a guest post by Eric Gordon.)
While people still herald paperback books and handwritten letters as wonderful traditions worth preserving, technological advances have made the writing process much more streamlined so production is faster than ever before.
Technology cannot generate content for you, however. Your writing projects need to be your own brainchild, but technology has a way of streamlining the process from conception all the way through to publication.
The right tools can help you with brainstorming and organization, and make the writing itself so much more seamless. These innovations have a way of sparking creativity and allowing writers to think outside of the box.
The Writing Process in the Digital Age
In the Digital Age, content is the backbone of marketing and sales. Businesses are constantly writing and creating new content. This includes business plans, blog posts, infographics, video scripts, magazine articles … the list goes on forever.
All that content conveys different messages, depending on the intended demographics and overall purpose, but there’s one thing it has in common: the writing process is typically the same.
While there is no overall consensus on how many steps the writing process has, with some saying four while others going as much as six or seven, experienced writers often combine some steps in the preliminary section. Overall, the most common process that’s used is:
In the pre-writing section, writers start with idea conception. This is where choosing your topic, brainstorming, and the gathering of ideas takes place.
The next step is organization. This is where ideas are put into an outline or a mind map. While you may not know the exact flow of thought at the beginning, you can see what ideas predicate others.
The actual writing process is what follows. Individuals have unique approaches to the way they tackle this step.
Some people believe the most effective way is to write one paragraph at a time. You write the first paragraph, then you go back and edit it. Then you write your next paragraph. You continue the process until you reach the end of the piece.
Others prefer the all-or-nothing method. This is where they put their stream of consciousness onto a piece of paper and they write from start to finish without stopping. Most people fall into an in-between category where there’s editing done as they go, but mostly they write first and revise later.
Last, there is the revision and editing step. This is where you go into your paper and add in sources, change grammar or sentence structure, and do final proofreading.
For each of these steps, there are various tools on the market that enhance the processes, make them more streamlined, help you research faster, or spellcheck automatically. Here are four great tech solutions that can help you write better content:
1. Mind Maps
Mind maps are brainstorming techniques and tools which help writers to conceptualize their ideas. They are used to join themes and topics, which normally wouldn’t be thought to be related. By seeing them on a mind map, you can think of new creative ways to link them together.
A good mind map tool is an app called Coggle. Coggle allows you to create colorful diagrams, which connect a variety of ideas, resources, and topics to encourage creativity in the initial stages of writing. It takes a bit to master mind mapping, but once you do, you’ll find new ideas for articles faster than ever.
2. Style Checkers
Style checkers, like the Hemingway app or Pro Writing Aid, are useful for the editing phase. While spell checkers and thesaurus apps are excellent for finding grammatical issues and helping writers choose more descriptive words, style checkers help writers determine the grade level at which they are writing. The choice of which one would be better for you is entirely up to you and your preferences.
This allows you to know if you’re too casual in writing, too formal, overly technical, or using too much jargon. This information helps you reach your targeted demographic. When marketing to seniors, for example, your language will differ greatly as opposed to writing about academic software for graduate students.
3. Cloud Sharing
Cloud computing has revolutionized the way content is produced, too. Instead of relying on onsite software, you can do everything from your browser with solutions like Google Docs or Office 365. Most are already familiar with Office 365 that comes with cloud apps (Word, Excel, and others) and their own storage solution: OneDrive. This allows you to have your entire writing project backed up online and accessible at any time.
Now, the beauty of cloud sharing is that you can share your drafts with collaborators. If you’re collaborating on a project, you can invite others and work on it simultaneously. This makes the editing and revision process much simpler since you have multiple pairs of eyes looking at a document within a short period of time. This means that not only will you have spellcheckers looking over your document, but will also have fellow proofreaders who will catch errors and think of other ideas to improve the content.
4. Speech to Text
Speech to text is actually how this article was written. Some people are verbal processors, while others do better by typing or handwriting their drafts. Whatever form of writing works for you, speech to text is an incredibly helpful tool for creating content in 2019.
By using speech to text tools for your drafting, not only do you really flesh out your ideas, but you have better chances of sounding more natural in your writing style. This will make your blog posts and scripts more relatable.
Technology has improved the writing process by making it more streamlined and given us great ways to explore new ideas with systems like mind maps. Collaboration is easier than ever now, thanks to cloud solutions.
Eric Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter @ericdavidgordon