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Writing Essentials: Everything You Need to Succeed

August 21, 2018

A decent laptop, a comfy chair and a wobble-free desk are the essentials of any working environment and are all well and good. But what about the less obvious, and perhaps, intangible aspects that a content writer may need to succeed? Let us now delve into a day in the life of a content writer and learn more about the tools (both mental and physical) that he or she can use to get through the day.

7.30 a.m. Yawn with the Dawn and Rise and Shine

A strong, black coffee is recommended to boot up your brain before you boot up your computer. Instant coffee is fine. Some pretentious people sneer at instant coffee and the reason for this is simply due to the fact that they are pretentious.

The fact of the matter is that instant coffee acts as the mental clutch that helps you to find your biting point a lot quicker and gets your brain into gear. When you find your biting point, use it to eat a couple of slices of toast too.

Instant coffee can be made in an instant, whereas filter coffee can take up to eight minutes to completely brew. This means that if you drink twenty cups of coffee a day, which most content writers do, then you would have to spend nearly 3 hours of your day brewing coffee. And if we round that time up to the nearest ten hours then that’s TEN HOURS A DAY MAKING COFFEE!

Whatever your early morning fix is – get it in nice and early. As long as it’s legal!

8.00 a.m. – Your Morning Briefing

Before a content writer begins his or her working day it is important for them to keep abreast of current events. The content writer may never know what he/she will be required to write about and so it is a good idea to keep a curious and topically up-to-date mind.

This is very difficult to do, as the majority of news outlets have no consistent set of principles. The Guardian, as a completely non-random example, will juxtapose an article about the horrors of mass genocide with a recipe for the ten best lentil and kale canapé recipes. Likewise, the BBC consciously adopts a contemporary approach to equal opportunities and social mobility for all and yet somehow counterbalances this with a fawningly obsequious and overtly traditional representation of The Royal Family.

As such, a content writer is more likely to succeed if he or she takes in a variety of different news sources and considers all of the information at hand. In short, a content writer should be both curious and open-minded. Such traits will serve the content writer well in his/her own work ethic.

9.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m. – The Morning Shift

A lot of content writers work from home and rarely venture into their company’s headquarters. So, home is not where the heart is; it’s where the office is. The benefit of this type of office is that there is no HR Team, which means that you don’t have to waste any time wondering what exactly a HR Team does. And you can just get on with your work of course!

Working from home is popular with content writers as, perhaps more so than any other job, content writing requires a certain level of peace and quiet (if not complete, exam-like condition silence).

Writing anything from scratch, be it a dissertation, a long letter, or a postcard requires a fixed level of concentration and it is thus important that this level of concentration is continually maintained. Even the slightest of noises can break a content writer’s concentration and shatter the flow of their words asunder.

‘Silence is the Sleep That Nourishes Wisdom’ – Francis Bacon

This golden silence will also enable you to carry out the research for your articles and blogs with the upmost of clarity and become absorbed in your learning. This research is a key skill that all content writers should possess, enabling them to first gather knowledge and then render it in a new light by means of an informative and engaging article.

Of course, when working from home you don’t necessarily need to be in ‘the office’ for 9.00 o’clock in the morning. It is, however, recommended that you adhere to a strict work ethic for yourself so that you can get your 8 hours done by 5.00 p.m. and then sit down and watch The Chase or Pointless with another cup of coffee. Both of these programmes will, again, help you to develop your curiosity and general knowledge, which will all ultimately feed into your content writing. The work really never stops!

12.00 p.m. – 1.00 p.m. – Lunch Hour

Sticking with the standard working routine, it’s a good idea to take a break for lunch at a socially acceptable hour. Twelve until one is your classic lunch hour, so you may as well go for this. Although the more adventurous amongst you may wish to opt for something more elaborate and kooky, like 12.15 p.m. – 1.15 p.m.! You don’t have to be crazy to work here in your own home, but it helps!

An hour is a long time for lunch when you realise that you don’t have to waste twenty minutes walking to and from M&S and twenty minutes staring at pigeons from a city centre bench. As such, you may want to use eight minutes of this time to make a filter coffee or the full sixty minutes to prepare some lentil and kale canapés – or not!

Feed Your Head, so That Your Head May Feed Your Writing

Aside from these choice endeavours, you could also opt to listen to a bit of Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, which will again serve your topical knowledge and allow you to look at the news in a humorous light; given the number of lunatics who phone in to his programme.

By developing a rounded appreciation of humour, this will again serve your content writing skills, as you will be able to further implement this humour into your writing and thus make it more engaging still. All thanks to Jeremy Vine & His Lunatic Army.

1.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m. – The Afternoon Shift

The second part of your working day will be much the same as the first part. Reading. Researching. Writing. Or, the ‘Three Rs’ as I like to call them, despite the fact that one of them is a ‘w’. If the ‘Three Rs’ is good enough for ‘Reading, Writing and Arithmetic’, then it’s good enough for ‘Reading, Researching and Writing’ too!

This is perhaps a good time to mention that a perfect grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation is also one of the key tools that a content writer will need at his/her disposal. In addition to knowing the difference between the letters ‘r’ and ‘w’, a content writer should have an unparalleled knowledge of the English language, solid sentence structuring skills, as well as knowing the difference between all of the other 24 letters of the alphabet!

This is also perhaps a good time to mention that ‘The Three Rs’ of reading, writing and arithmetic are so called because the word ‘arithmetic’ is considered to have a stronger ‘r’ sound at the beginning of it than an ‘a’ sound. This is what is know as an ‘r’ phoneme, although I did have to research that. Ergo, this is a good example of research being implemented live and direct to your eyeballs!

Revisions of Previous Revisions That Were Already Revisions of Revisions!

The remainder of your working day will be filled with more reading, researching and writing. This will then be followed by some re-reading, re-researching and re-writing. Finally, it will then be time for some re-re-reading, re-re-researching and re-re-writing.

Patience and good editing and proof reading skills are thus all essential tools for any content writer worth both his salt and his weight in gold. A somewhat curious balance of measurements!

Turning a Lump of Marble into a Nice, Smooth Statue

Indeed, articles and blogs will need to be chiselled away at and re-written and this will require a good level of attention and the patience of The Patron Saint of Patience.

Over the course of the working day a content writer will also be required to think creatively and be able to write engaging content about products and services that may sometimes be less than interesting to the every-man.

It is thus the content writer’s job to make the often uninteresting…interesting; make the disengaging…engaging; make the difficult to understand…easier to understand; make the unedited…edited; make the ungrammatical…grammatical; but, most importantly of all, make the coffee…and quickly.

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This piece was written by Chris Gallacher. Chris is an experienced content writer who believes that the glass is neither half-full, nor half-empty. Chris believes that the glass has fallen off the table completely!