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15 Research and Preparation Techniques for Efficient Writing

15 Research and Preparation Techniques for Efficient Writing

Seeking to enhance writing efficiency, we've gathered insights from content marketers to presidents on their top research and preparation techniques. From planning weekly content through brainstorming to using voice-recognition software for initial drafts, explore the diverse strategies employed by fifteen professionals to streamline their writing process and boost productivity.

  • Plan Weekly Content with Brainstorming

  • Outline Subtopics to Speed Writing

  • Set Word-Count Targets for Productivity

  • Save Research Time with a Dual-Monitor Setup 

  • Find Efficient Niche Research via Podcasts

  • Create Detailed Outlines Before Drafting

  • Minimize Distractions for Focused Writing

  • Use the Reverse-Pyramid Method

  • Know Your Audience 

  • Start with Structure for Clear Direction

  • Organize Results Following Methods Order

  • Write Headlines First

  • Combine Ideation and Planning 

  • Read Aloud to Clarify Writing POV

  • Try Voice-Recognition During Article Drafting

Plan Weekly Content with Brainstorming

I do a huge brainstorming session at the end of every week to plan my next week's content ideas. It's a mixture of my own ideas that I collected throughout the week, trending topics in my niche, and repurposing my best-performing content. 

Once I have my content idea for each post mapped out from Monday to Saturday, I write three hooks for each post. Then, throughout the week, at the start of each day, I refine the hook and then write the body. The end-of-week brainstorming session saves me hours of idea generation throughout the week.

Darion Rae, Content Marketer, Secret Scribez

Outline Subtopics to Speed Writing

The research and preparation technique that has helped me immensely speed up my writing is outlining. I now always create an outline of the subtopics I want to write about. Then, it becomes a matter of writing a few sentences under each subtopic, and the article begins to flesh out easily. 

To get inspiration for the outline, I use my knowledge and experience first. If I don't have enough of that, I take reference from books, videos, and articles to see what I can write about.

Kevin Rodrigues, Content Creator,

Set Word-Count Targets for Productivity

My method is to set word-count targets and monitor my progress. Like how I track business metrics such as leads and conversion rates, I also monitor my writing output. I actually use a Google spreadsheet to log my daily word count and how focused or 'in flow' I felt while writing.

For those new to writing, I suggest aiming for 500 words in a single session. If you're more experienced, targeting 1,000 words per session is reasonable. As you gain confidence and your thoughts flow more smoothly, you can aim for higher daily and monthly goals.

I think that setting a specific word count for each writing session helps me write quicker and understand when I am most productive or “in the zone.” For instance, if I notice I write 600 words per hour in the morning but 900 words in the afternoon, it makes sense to adjust my writing schedule accordingly.

Precious Abacan, Marketing Director, Softlist

Save Research Time with a Dual-Monitor Setup

As a blogger, I do a lot of research and fact-checking daily—product info, industry statistics, and so on. 

One hack I've implemented that shaves hours off my research time is a dual-monitor setup. This lets me keep my research source open on one monitor and a Word document open on the other, so I can take notes without constantly leaving the page. I didn't realize how much time I was wasting switching between open windows, not to mention the negative impact it had on my focus, until I set up the second monitor.

Find Efficient Niche Research via Podcasts

I like to listen to niche podcasts to get a real feel for how insiders talk about a given topic. I can listen while doing various other tasks, like cooking or commuting, so it saves me time. For this to be an efficient use of my time, it needs to be for a rather large project. But when the project is sufficient in scope, using podcasts as an inroad to efficiently learn about and research a topic is a winning strategy.

Create Detailed Outlines Before Drafting

As someone who writes extensively, covering personal finance topics, one research and preparation technique I swear by for increasing my writing efficiency is creating detailed outlines before drafting any post.

When I first started blogging, I had a bad habit of sitting down to write with just a headline and a scattering of thoughts in mind. I told myself that outlining was wasting time upfront. But I quickly realized how vastly more time-consuming writing this way was. Without a structured flow mapped out ahead of time, I constantly got stuck organizing thoughts cohesively as I wrote. This led to messy drafts requiring heavy revisions and rework.

However, putting in the effort to outline content ahead of a first draft—bullet-pointing section topics, sources to cite, example anecdotes, etc.—streamlined everything immensely. With a fleshed-out narrative arc already set, I can simply focus on translating those outline points into polished prose. This preparation pays dividends, reducing rewrite rounds later.

Having my research consolidated into an outline blueprint eliminates wasting energy on structure during drafting. The result is writing three times faster while producing tighter, more cohesive posts requiring far less editing on the back end. Outlining is now an indispensable first step, fueling my efficiency and ideas exponentially. It clears away the constant questioning of “Where do I go from here?” so I can purely create.

Minimize Distractions for Focused Writing

When I'm writing or working by myself, I need to minimize the distractions around me. To do this, I always try to find a quiet and comfortable workspace, and turn off notifications and limit phone use to stay focused.

Constant interruptions and distractions slow down my writing and working pace, so when I minimize distractions, I can work more efficiently, leading to faster task completion and increased overall productivity. Being in a more controlled environment also allows me to immerse myself in the work and experience a sense of accomplishment. For me, it contributes to increased satisfaction and motivation to continue writing.

Meghan Freed, Managing Co-Partner, Freed Marcroft

Use the Reverse-Pyramid Method

I've always been a fan of the reverse-pyramid planning process, both for writing and project management. Journalists and marketers should be familiar with this technique, as it essentially breaks down what you're about to do into tiers—the biggest tier is the most noteworthy information, like your who, what, when, etc., which then narrows in on important details and further narrows to general background information. 

The advantage is that even if someone stops reading after the first paragraph, you've gotten your key information across. I've found that this process actually works really well for all kinds of things, as it lets you chunk up your activity into its component parts that people will really care about, care about somewhat, and those that are not that important—and budget your time accordingly.

Know Your Audience 

One of the best practices that has helped is being clear on who is reading what I'm writing. Sometimes we get so lost in getting the piece out, we lose sight of the outcome people who are reading want. We make sure we include a wrap-up of what is important to get readers to their solution or outcome.

Francesco D'Alessio, Productivity App Expert, Tool Finder

Start with Structure for Clear Direction

When writing larger texts, I like to start with the structure and work top-down. So, I start by making a list of topics that should be covered. I research which topics to add, which are covered elsewhere, etc. Then, I decide on a logical structure; some texts work best chronologically, others best topic by topic. 

Once you've decided on the content and the structure, writing actually becomes really easy; you just have to fill out some paragraphs for each topic. While you do this, you will probably realize there are other topics or subtopics to add. That's okay; just add them. This method will always give you a clear direction and never give you that daunting feeling of an unspecific mountain in front of you.

Dag Flachet, Co-Founder and Professor, Codific

Organize Results Following Methods Order

I’ve started organizing and presenting results in the same order as the methods described in my white papers, and this alone has enhanced my work a lot more. 

Firstly, it eliminates the need for readers to backtrack or cross-reference between sections, reducing confusion and enhancing overall comprehension. The clarity in presentation has made my findings more accessible and digestible, facilitating a smoother reading experience. 

Furthermore, this method has expedited the writing process itself. Since I'm essentially following the same chronological order as my research journey, I find myself effortlessly transitioning from detailing methods to presenting results.

Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Write Headlines First 

I think understanding the search intent of a specific keyword is the most important ranking factor. To achieve this goal, I have noticed that writing my headline first has been a game-changer, as it allows me to understand precisely how to structure my article and in which paragraphs to talk about specific topics. 

I also use some free tools, like the SurferSEO Article Generator or just ChatGPT, to help me in this process. With this method, I can think clearly and avoid starting the article repeatedly.

Combine Ideation and Planning

Two essential writing processes that might assist you in producing a well-focused, well-structured essay include jotting down ideas and planning. The process of ideation entails coming up with ideas and concepts for your writing project. Now is the time to think creatively and unconventionally. 

On the other hand, planning entails taking such concepts and organizing them into a logical structure. You can make this structure as simple or complex as you desire; the idea is to have a writing roadmap that will assist you in staying on task and focused. In the long term, conceptualizing and planning may save you time by preventing writer's block and reducing the need for lengthy revisions. 

By devoting some time to ideation and planning, you may design an efficient, productive, and enjoyable writing process.

Daniel Li, Co-Founder and CEO, Plus

Read Aloud to Clarify Writing POV

First, feel free to “write long” for a paragraph or two about your topic. Then read your words out loud. Yep, read out loud. It feels weird at first, but 'talking your words' can help you clarify your POV (point of view), and with every assignment, you can become a more experienced, efficient writer.

Anne Hagerty, Senior Content Writer/Copywriter, Anne Hagerty

Try Voice-Recognition During Article Drafting

When I begin an article, I simply speak everything I can think of into a voice-recognition app. That draft prompts the research I do. 

To accelerate the research, I upload the unrefined draft to a generative AI platform and ask it to find three anecdotes from business history that illustrate the point, as well as three research-based studies that support the thesis—and to include titles and authors so I can locate the sources. 

Then, I find the primary resources for its suggestions (if they exist). This cuts down on how much I have to search in research databases and on Google. It may take several iterations to get good research. But once I have the research and business history, I can begin structuring, writing, and refining the article. Doing it this way saves hours of searching the internet—and produces richer articles.


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