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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Having trouble writing
How can someone write content when they don't where to start?

 11:27 am on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have been working on an idea i've had for the last couple of weeks now.

The site design is done, as is the build. I have been trying to write content for this site, but am having real problems trying to organise the hundreds of ideas flying round my head.

Does anyone have any good suggestions on how to start putting the ideas down on paper?

Any help would be really appreciated



 2:01 pm on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, Pikin. Without knowing anything about your site's subject, I'd probably start by deciding on some broad categories of information and then listing topics within those categories. As you start accumulating topics, you may find you need to adjust your categories - add a new one, subdivide another, eliminate a couple... You should see your site structure starting to take shape. Then, pick the area that you want to launch first, choose a topic or two, and start writing.

Or, for a totally different approach, if you find one particular topic particularly interesting, just fire up your word processor and start writing it. I find that I can really churn out copy when I'm enthused about something. I like to sit down and write while the ideas are still buzzing around in my head.

You'll probably want to think of your content in terms of articles, i.e., modest-sized topics that fit on 1 - 3 web pages.


 2:32 pm on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thank's for the advice rogerd.

One more thing though...
I've read bretts 26 steps. He said that you need 100 pages of content before you even put the site online. Is that true?


 2:38 pm on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Launching with 100+ pages would be great. It would immediately give something for the spiders to chew on, and would also make a good first impression on visitors. As they say, you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression.

Nevertheless, it's not a hard and fast rule. There are successful sites that have just a few pages. I've seen a few sites that survive with a single page. More pages and content, though, mean more opportunities for search engine traffic.


 2:45 pm on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

100 pages

Not necessary. Start with 2 or 3 and then build up from there.

Also, here is a tip I've used when getting writer's block:

Start writing about your topic and make it funny. Write ridiculous lies about it, exaggerate, make thing up, try to be funny. Before you know it, you're writing and it isn't funny at all and you actually have some content you can edit. The downside of this is that you might actually BE a good comedy writer...


 3:17 pm on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Cheers for the help guys, however...

<<The downside of this is that you might actually BE a good comedy writer>>

The chances are pretty slim. I have a terrible habit of laughing at my own jokes while others just stand and stare at me.

Real embarrassing



 5:15 am on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hey Pikin

I don't know if this will help you any, but I'd have a tough time sitting down to write on a word processor. I need to start with pen and paper. Of course, I developed most of my writing skills long before personal computers became available. ;^)

I'd say rogerd has the right idea when he says "just ... start writing." I think a lot of people sort of freeze up when they try to write. My guess is they may think they need to "get it right" the first time. I consider myself a decent writer and my notes typically look pretty ugly from all the rewriting I do by the time I get to where I'm ready to produce anything electronically. I always say "if you can think, you can write." Just like a web site, anything you come up with can always be revised.

Writing can be, for me at least, an arduous task. It may be that your mind is simply (and understandably) seeking to avoid the blood, sweat, and tears of formalizing your thoughts. As is the case with most accomplishments, there's no substitute for getting started. And if you're still not satisfied with your efforts, there are a lot of editors looking for work in this economy. :^D


 10:26 am on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks ememi,

You're right.

Organising my thoughts on paper takes a lot more work than i had ever thought it could. Hopefully by the end of it, i should have something almost legible.



 2:52 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with Rogerd. When you are stuck, it really helps to make lists. Break your topic down into ideas or even keywords, whatever works for you. Then you can sometimes go on to break each item on the list into a separate list or lists.

You may eventually end up with a rough outline of your article(s), although that isn't necessarily the purpose of this. The real purpose is just to help you pin down your ideas and give you something concrete to build on. It's hard to explain, but it works and it can be a big help against writer's block.


 3:08 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm in the middle of this right now. Drives me absolutely bonkers.

'just start writing' is key.

So is making a list.

I start with a list of just notes.. ideas that often end up being topic headings.

If no topic grabs me enough to actually write an article or page, I just start writing paragraphs. Grab a topic at random.. 1 paragraph. Doesn't matter how bad it is - just write it. Grab another topic.. 1 paragraph.

All this is in a run-on word file... can't do it in the html files or I get distracted with coding.

By about the third or fourth '1 paragraph', something grabs my attention and I can get stuck into writing that page.

I keep the topic heading list open while I'm writing, and any unrelated thought that comes while I'm writing goes on that list, and then I don't look at it again. Don't let a new idea distract you.

The other thing that helps - changing location. I code at my PC. For writing, I drag out the doddery old laptop and sit on the couch with the lappy on a piano stool in front of me. It's all of ten feet away from the PC, but it makes the world of difference. Of course.. it helps that the lappy isn't net enabled. :)


 6:32 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have always found it easier to pen down my thoughts on paper and then type it out on my word processor...it does take a lot of time but it clears thoughts tremendously......the best thing to do is to divide the main topic into subtopics subheads and separate points. Once you have a bsic idea of how you want the content to flow, then you can start filling up the main heads and subheads.


 4:27 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I find that inpiration strikes an strange times throughout the day, so I always keep paper and pen on hand to record ideas, of course, then you end up with many pieces of paper that must be organized.

This is where it helps to obtain an actual writing program, not just a word processor. For the Mac there are many nice programs (Ulysses for example) that help you organize and combine your thoughts and bits of writing, I assume there are even more for the PC world.

For me, visually being able to organize ideas and move them around and combine them is the key, the word processor is just a last step to put everything in one place for publishing.


 4:29 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Has anyone used any mind mapping software?


 4:38 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I find it easy to write a short article (i.e. 250-500 words).

That makes a page.

Then I can go back to that page and find something that needs to be expanded on. So, I write another short article, and voila', there's another page.

The site ends up designed like a pyramid, and I can go ever and ever deeper.

I would suggest that you begin with a half dozen or so broad categories and write a page for each. Then you can begin the expansion process. If you follow Brett's formula (a page a day) the site will expand quickly, and it probably won't take more than an hour a day to accomplish this.



 4:43 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

mind mapping software

Macro, do expand on this, please... ;)


 4:56 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

On each topic, try to answer some basic questions that the user might have when the visit your site:

- Who
Who wants this product?
Who needs this advice?

- What
What are you selling?
What are the benefits in following this advice?
What does this item go with?

- Where
Where can you put this product?
Where can you go to get further information on this topic?

- When
When does this situation apply?
When would you use this product? (if it's seasonal)

- How
How will this product improve your life?
How do you use this product?

Once you start answering your client's questions, you'll be surprised at how much information you have.


 5:32 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

rogerd, sorry I'm in a bit of a rush now. Does this [google.com] help? The #1 result kinda explains it.


 6:31 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all of the advice guys.

I've managed to churn out 10 pages over the last few days.

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