Typing isn't writing

by Michael Bernstein on February 11, 2020

It’s our job to get you writing more. Since you know you want to be writing more, I’ve boiled down my advice for how to write more (and better) to one simple idea:

Typing isn’t writing

Because I’m in Marketing and I sometimes boil things down a bit too far, let’s dive in to what I mean a bit more.

The real writing gets done before the typing starts

The idea that there’s a difference between writing and typing first occurred to me after thinking back on several years of writing regularly for various kinds of outlets. I was trying to figure out why writing certain pieces were easier and others harder – and not in terms of the contents. What I meant was that when I sat down to write certain pieces, it didn’t come naturally. When I sat down to write others, it did. And I wanted to understand why.

After a lot of reflection I realized that when it felt like it came naturally, it’s because at that point I was mostly typing, and when it felt tortured, it was because I still had a lot of writing left to do. When it was just typing, I usually had a very well formed idea in my mind that I had been mulling over and refining instead of doing normal things like sleeping and eating properly. Or I had gathered and analyzed researched and prepared notes. For one reason or another, the actual bones of the pieces were done in my mind. Then I could just type.

There are ways to make it easier to write

Once I realized this, I started to take a closer look at the types of writing that felt easy, and tried to figure out ways to do those kinds of things more often. I realized that for smaller, more succinct pieces, I can just kind of outline them in my head. I’d ask myself:

  • What’s the main idea I want to convey?
  • What are a few supporting points I want to communicate along with the main idea?
  • What kind of connection can I make to the outside world in the conclusion?

And if I could answer those, then I was ready to type! That doesn’t work for everything though. For longer pieces, I looked for and in some cases created frameworks and processes to help me do the writing before it was time to type. In those cases, I usually want:

  • A title
  • An abstract
  • An outline (which can basically the answers to the three questions above)

Once I have these, I’m usually pretty ready to get my ideas across, and the typing comes quickly!

Just because you write it doesn’t mean you have to type it

Now that I spend a lot of time trying to get teach teams in companies to get writing more, I’m still able to leverage these ideas. The nice thing about a team is that there are often different types of personalities with different talents and proclivities when it comes to writing and typing.

One thing that’s been successful for us at Reify is getting teams splitting up the duties of writing and typing. Creating a production blogging pipeline can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet with columns for titles, abstracts, and outlines, and have people participate in different aspects of writing. If this sounds interesting, we wrote this process up a bit more here.

Can we help you get started writing?

We hope this was helpful – we really do care about getting you writing more. The idea that you can separate generating your ideas from producing the final words is a powerful one, and we’d love to hear your impressions. If you’re ready or curious, send us an email – hello@reifyworks.com – and thanks as always for reading.