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Writing used to be hard. Then I tried this...

Eugene Schwartz was a leading Contemporary American Art collector. His stunning Manhattan penthouse — overlooking Park Avenue — was filled with important works from artists like Frank Stella, Morris Louis, and David Smith.

And if you’re not familiar with these artists, some of their work fetched well into the 7 figures.

How could Schwartz afford these paintings?

Because he was a writer.

Yes, a WRITER.

But not just any writer…

In the 50s and 60s, Schwartz was one of the highest paid writers in the world.

Now you’re probably wondering “What did this guy write?”

Well…

Want to learn how to write faster? Download this FREE worksheet for my SIMPLE 5-Step System.

He wrote advertisements, sales letters, articles, books, and booklets (including one on art collecting). And his ads and sales letter went on to generate over $1 billion in sales.

But writing sales copy is no easy task.

Heck, writing ANYTHING is hard.

When I first got started – whether I was writing blog posts, video scripts, webinars, or anything like that – it was tedious. And time consuming. AND FRUSTRATING.

I had an idea of what I wanted to say, but I struggled to get the words down on paper.

Yet, Eugene Schwartz seemingly did it with ease.

It’s reported that he only worked for about 3 hours a day.

So I went to find out how he did what he did…

…And I had the proverbial “AHA” moment.

I reveal it in this new video.

Bonus Download: Want to learn how to write faster? Download this FREE worksheet for my SIMPLE 5-Step System.

The best part?

I have since refined this one little insight into a complete, step-by-step process that helps me write faster than ever before…

…and I share it in this great little worksheet below the video.

Go download it now.

5 Steps To Writing Smarter and Faster

When you’re building a business, you need to write.

Maybe you’re writing notes for a video script. Or maybe you’re writing a blog post. Or maybe you’re just writing an email to a colleague.

But if you’re not a writer, writing can be tedious and time-consuming. And it can make you want to rip your hair out.

I’m Derek Halpern, and you’re watching Social Triggers, the place entrepreneurs and executives learn to get ahead in business and life.

And in this video, I’ll reveal a simple 5-step process for writing smarter and faster, even if you’re not a writer.

Let me take you back in time.

When I first started writing:

    • I’d wake up in the morning and get started.
    • I’d open a blank text document, write 2 sentences, and then scream at my computer.
    • After a few more screaming sessions, I’d have about 2 paragraphs complete.
    • I’d reread those 2 paragraphs and rewrite them.
    • Then, I’d rewrite them again.
    • And again.
    • Then, I’d scream a little more…
    • And I’d give up and go clean my house.

It would take me DAYS to write a blog post. And when you’re creating as much content as I do, that’s a surefire way to never write anything.

And I remember getting SO FRUSTRATED:

“I just can’t do it!”

“I’m not cut out for this.”

“I SHOULD JUST QUIT RIGHT NOW!”

Sound familiar?

It turns out this is how a lot of people feel when they’re writing. You kind of know what you want to say, but you just can’t get the words out.

But everything changed for me when I stumbled on this interesting piece of advice from Eugene Schwartz, one of the best copywriters that ever lived. He wrote:

“Copy is never written. Copy is assembled.”

And that’s when the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.

THAT’S IT.

I need to stop writing into blank pages. I need a system for writing.

To write, I need FACTS. I need ANECDOTES. I need ACTION PLANS.

And that’s when I honed a new writing process that allows me to pump out GREAT content FAST.

First, I’ll tell you how it works. Then, I’ll show you where you can download a FREE worksheet to help you start using my process today.

Let’s jump right in.

Step 1: Accumulate Tons of Ideas

When you write for a living, you should constantly be thinking of new ideas and new stories.

When I get ready for a Social Triggers TV video shoot, I often have a list of about 100 or 150 ideas that I want to write.

Of course, all my ideas don’t make the cut. In reality, I only need about 10 or so GOOD ideas.

But choosing 10 good ideas from a list of 100 is much easier than thinking of 10 good ideas from nothing.

So, whenever you think of a story or an idea that you can use in your writing, be sure to keep track of it!

Which leads me to the next step:

Step 2: Eliminate Bad Ideas

Now, you’re likely wondering, “But Derek, all my ideas are good. How can I decide which ideas are worth pursuing?”

And that’s a great question. Just because an idea is good doesn’t mean that you should write about it.

That’s why for every idea, I look to answer three main questions:

The first is:

1. Can I cite any interesting research or data about this topic? And if no research or data is available, do I have any personal breakthroughs, or know someone who had a personal breakthrough, with this topic?

If the answer is yes, the idea stays.

Now, what do I mean by “research” and “personal breakthroughs?”

Well, look at this video, for example. The idea was to write a script about my personal breakthrough with writing. And I knew that I could quote Eugene Schwartz. So, it passed the test.

Or, as another example, check out this video about the dumb pricing mistake most people make.

That was a pricing experiment that I stumbled on in a book.

So, if you have a breakthrough or research to cite, then the idea is probably worth pursuing. It’s that simple.

But if the answer is no, then it’s not worth pursuing right now.

That doesn’t mean you throw the idea away. Sometimes an idea is worth researching. But when it’s time to write, the ideas that need additional research just don’t make the cut. So, you should save them for a later time.

The next question I ask myself about a topic idea is:

2. Do I have an opinion about this?

This is an important question to ask. Here’s why: a lot of people tend to write what they have research about or personal experience about, but they don’t have an opinion about it. And that’s a problem.

Nowadays, people want to hear unique voices. And you can’t showcase your voice if you don’t have an opinion on what you’re writing about.

So, if the answer is no, the article gets axed. If the answer is yes, proceed to the final question…

3. What are the KEY takeaways for this video (or blog post or email)?

Having something to cite and having an opinion doesn’t necessarily mean you should write about that topic.

Since I’m in the teaching space, I also need to be able to teach people about something. I need to give them something that they can take action on and implement in their business.

If I can’t, I won’t write about it.

That said, you may not be in the teaching space. And that’s fine.

Instead of giving them something they can take action on, you can give them an action to take.

For example, you can say: “Comment and let me know your opinion about this topic.”

I’ve run articles where I don’t necessarily give an action plan, but instead, I solicit an opinion.

And it works great.

So, after I go through these 3 questions, I’m usually able to whittle down my list from about 100 to 20 or so ideas. That’s way more manageable.

Now, what’s next?

Step 3: Get Real Specific

From those 20 ideas, I pick the top idea on the list and I flesh it out completely.

First, I’ll outline it into a few bullet points. As an example, for this video, I started with this:

    • 1. How to write fast
    • Writing is important
    • But I struggled with writing
    • Then I found Eugene Schwartz
    • Here’s what I do now

After you outline your idea, you move on to:

Step 4: Write

Now, here’s the deal:

Once it’s time to write, all I have to do is follow my outline and assemble the article one part at a time.

So that by the end, I’ve got 4 key sections. And all I have to do it put them together into article form.

Which leads me to:

Step 5: Edit

As you might imagine, when you assemble writing the way I do, sometimes the writing doesn’t flow as well as you want it to flow.

That’s why after I write the first draft of the article, I start editing it or I have someone else edit it.

Whatever works in your business.

The goal?

To make it flow from start to finish.

And that’s my process. It enables me to write fast and write smart. And if you’re in the business of writing, you should follow this process, too.

How? Well, like I said earlier, I’ve got a FREE worksheet that will walk you right through this process.

All you have to do is click this BIG BUTTON to the right.

It’s 100% free.

Just click this button to the right or the link below the video. Enter your name and email, and I’ll send it right over.

And that’s it.

If you found this video helpful or know someone that WILL find it helpful, I’d greatly appreciate you sharing this video with your friends.

You see, I believe EVERYONE needs to write. Especially if they’re an entrepreneur or executive who’s looking to get ahead in business and life.

And I’m hoping this video will help them learn how to do it the fast way.

Plus, if you’re new here:

Go ahead and subscribe to my channel by clicking the subscribe button.

And of course, leave a comment below this video letting me know about your struggles or your successes with writing.

I’d love to hear your story!

Leave a comment now.

Comments

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67 comments Leave a comment
Nirodha Abayalath

Hey Derek,
A few days back I launched my first blog. I have never been blogging before and I realized that WRITING is the hardest thing I have ever done but, I’m not gonna give up.
Keep up this great work.
Thank you very much for sharing this with us.

Nia

I went to school for journalism and can write pretty efficiently. I agree with these points. I use my Notes app on my iPhone to take down ideas for posts. I have several at a time that I can pull from. Edit, edit, edit. Thanks!

Trish

I wish I knew this years ago when I was writing the dissertation for my MBA. But even more, I wish I had it once I started my own business. My biggest issue with writing is not so much that I don’t have anything to say – I can talk – but it’s assembling it and that’s the part that will force me into a corner and staring at a blank sheet … “should I start with this bit, or with this bit?” So for me, your video and worksheet is like Platinum, not even gold! Thank you Derek!

Michael Leedy

Derek… the video in this post is total wicked awesomeness!! I’ve seen you around before, but never took a moment to watch… but today’s topic is quite literally one of the frustrations that I’m currently dealing with.

Which leads me to a question: How long did it take you to get your writing process/syndication process smoothed out… so that you started to gain traction?

Currently it takes me a good DAY to write one post… and then syndication of ‘said post’ takes a few days (to smear it all over evenly, like butter on a hot piece of bread).

I realized, the process will become quicker (as I consistently perform the actions).. but just wondered your thoughts.

**Got your tutorial as well. thanks for that! You’re fun to watch and I love your look 🙂

Leo

Great video. I really learned a lot from watching it. I like that your site does not look like the usual SEO or content marketing website, its much nicer.

Naveen Kulkarni

Derek,
Kudos to your new design. This is one of the best designs I have ever seen for a personal blog !

Connor Rickett

That a great system. It’s exactly how you should write informational content, although there are more complex tasks and nuances to consider once you get the hang of it–you know, the wheelies and the no hands stuff that comes after you learn how to ride the bike.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t think your system had all that much to do with the feeling of writing getting easier. You just got better. Writing is a skill, and it’s one of those skills with essentially no end point to develop to, because its scope is the sum total of human communication.

What I’m saying is that writing was hard when you started out because you sucked at. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure what you eventually put out was great, but it took a long time to do it. You could go back now, completely change your process, and you’d still find it pretty easy to write great articles, maybe after a brief adjustment period.

Writing’s a skill. Practice, challenge yourself, and you’ll get better. The real key, and you did this right without even thinking about it, is to just keep doing it. Keep pedaling until it’s easy.

Danielle Louise Ross

Hi Derek! Great video. I’m an experienced writer, and write on a regular basis for my business, and I still found some good things to think about from this mini training! Loved hearing about Schwartz too. What an inspiration!

Adam Morgan

Thanks for the great tips Derek! If I may an insight here, “knowing the target audience” is key to branding properly. Writing is one of my biggest challenges as an internet marketer. How do you find the balance between making the post informative and not confusing?

Asad

This video and worksheet helped me in great deal . Thnx dude

Jared

Derek, I just want to say thank you so much for providing this resource!

Because of your worksheet I was able to organize my ideas and pick a clear winner that was backed with data and personal experience.

I was really struggling to get this guest post written until I sat down and used your worksheet.

You can read the guest post here:
http://www.infusionsoft.com/blog/how-create-lead-magnet-step-step-guide

In addition to that I’m now in the process of writing my first guest post article for the Huffington Post!

I’m finally starting to put your Blog That Converts (blogthatconverts.com) into action and wish I would’ve started sooner. Thanks for everything you do.

Regards,
Jared

Cat

Love the new site Derek and LOVE recently discovered ZippyCourses… hope my writing will do you proud with all your tips! Thanks for the inspirations xox

Jeff Goins

Love the new design!

Anthony

Thanks Derek, that first three-step process brings clarity.

Chris Brogan

I really like everything about this, Derek. And I’ve loved watching you execute more and more of your ideas. Always excited to see what you’re doing.

Spencer Goldade

This is a good reminder. I think it’s easy to fall prey to what other people are doing on the web with things like showcases and roundups of other content. If you aren’t sharing an opinion and have no facts to support what you’re saying, then what’s the point?

Rob Christian

Wow! I couldn’t have come across this at a better time. I have been struggling lately to get motivated to write content for my site. I truly believe that this will help me get out of my rut and be able to write content more easily and effectively. Thank you for breaking this down in a way that I can immediately apply what I have learned and focus on creating valuable content. Thanks again!

Tamatha

Derek, I love your posts thank you. I really loathe writing…but I am being honest. Do you every have anyone that you can recommend that follows your thoughts in products descriptions and sales letters?

Alonso Chehade

Hi Derek,

This post is extremely helpful, and I have shared it with some people.

Now, after watching your video I couldn’t figure out where in this post you follow your own advice on having an opinion before you write. If you could highlight this for me, it would be great so that I can use as reference in my future posts.

Thank you for your time in advanced,

~Alonso

Joanna Pieters

Derek, not sure if this is the right place to comment, but the download link has now been connected to your Zippy courses ebook instead. I’m sure it’s great, but it’s your 5-step writing system I was hoping for.

the get in shape girl

I guess I should feel blessed Ive never had an issue with writing 🙂

Brian Matthews

Hi Derek,
I can’t seem to receive your download email. Its not in spam and I tried 2 email addresses. Just wanted to let you know. I was looking forward to it.

Sissel Arctander

Great video! I used to say that if I could present my PhD in powerpoint, I would have finished long time ago. Then I thought about it. Why is it so much easier for me to present my material by speaking with the help of powerpiont presentations? When I use I let each page contain only one point. I think of how I can explain each point to the audience. And I organise the points/pages to a logic line of arguments, by moving the slides around on the screen. I realised that this allows me to think of one thing at the time, either a single point, OR the structure. I’ve transferred this to writing now. I outline the article and make bullet points for all the points that goes into the article. Then I can write out each point in the order i feel like writing them, and assemble them afterwards. I took som much disturbance from my writing since it allows me to think of one thing at the time as I write. In other words: the assembly idea works for me, and this video will help me refine my method.

daniela

Thank you , Derek !
Very interesting material …
( I’m wondering if it would work for writing the assignments in a Master program in Science ?! Hope it would ha )

Gohar

Great video. Will use your worksheet to test it on my writing plan. Thanks for sharing awesome content.

Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels

Well, it was amazingly useful for me, thanks Derek! I read your articles all the time as these give value to me and I am always inspired!

I love to write in my native language (Estonian), however, I used to have days when I wasn’t able to write anything in English. Mostly because I got so worried about the grammar, etc. But I realized I just have to let it go, it is something I can work on when the article is written. That’s why proofreading is for, right?
Writing for me is sharing my creative side and hopefully touching several hearts all around the globe. I have found I need to write when I feel inspired and I am not even trying to write anything if I am not.

Thanks again for inspirational post and keep up the great work! 🙂

Justin

Those artists are absolute CRAP lol. I bet I’m the only one that read this article and bothered to look up their drivel. I mean seriously? Get real Derek.

This article is coming on way too strong and trying way to hard.

    Derek Halpern

    Amazing. A one off, quick google search by some random dude on the Internet is apparently enough to judge a body of work by esteemed artists who had their art sell for millions of dollars.

    Whether you believe their work is good or not, you can’t argue with their results. Their paintings fetched a lot of money, whether you like their work or not.

    And the only thing CRAP here is your attitude. I suggest you find another website to read.

      Bryce

      And I love Derek even more now.

Margaret Marshall

Thank you again for your kind help and wonderful humour. You are a true talent. If Givers Get you must be very successful in business and life.

yansy

Hey Derek!
in this video you were talking about me, I do clean my house when I get frustrated writing Lol.
Thanks for this awesome video and the worksheet.

Marjolaine Walker

Love the worksheet, thank you so much!

Dave

Derek, stop giving away the tricks of the trade! 🙂

Fernando Marting

Great Advice! Thank you for sharing

Antonia K Zorluer

Hi, Derek! Thank you so much for this video. I AM a writer but sometimes I have difficulties getting writing done just as you describe it!

Funny and inspirational! Thank you for the download as well 😉

Alyssa O'Sullivan

Great advice! Always motivating to hear how fellow writers deal with their struggles.

I’ll definitely be better about writing down my ideas from now on – sometimes that block hits and that’s when my hours get sucked away! That notes section in my phone is slowly filling up…

What I find helps me focus when it comes to writing, is going to a cafe or library. If I say “ok, I’ll spend an hour here, then I can go home” it’s easier for me to just get it done. Thanks for the tips!

Amanda Lee

Thanks Derek. I always LOVE your videos! I know when I go to watch them I won’t be wasting my time.
I loved you description of writer frustration, you could have been describing me. I also appreciate your simplification of the writing process which takes the scary factor out of it. Even though I got A’s in English all through school, writing for the internet brings up a whole set of its own blocks!
Thanks again 🙂

Kathleen

I love this, Derek. I did make a list of ideas at the beginning, but did not vet them in the way you suggest here. I am definitely going to do that going forward.

Susan Jones

Great post Derek. I like the structured way you approach the whole process and I’m going to steal some bits of that. 🙂

I too keep an Evernote notebook for blog post ideas. There’s nothing worse than trying to start writing and staring at a blank page.

Another thing I find really helps is to talk the blog post rather than write it. I always find my posts flow better and sound more direct and engaging when I outline a structure and then talk it and edit the transcript into a piece of writing.

Chris

Awesome value as always. Love the worksheet. Printed and ready to use for my next post!

Chris

Frank Schwarz

Writing is scary for me. My audience is stressful enough, but my wife is a teacher, too.

Thanks for giving some simple tips. Now to start using those tips.

Martin Leung-Wai

Thanks for the tip Derek.

I was about to write my speech for a graduation ceremony and your email popped about this. This will be helpful for my business. Great timing and great content.

Keep it up!!

Fara Madisa

Hi Derek.
This post is definitely beneficial. Thanks.

But I would like to also share my challenge when it comes to writing: Finding the time to sit down and write, as I’m also working full-time, have other responsibilities to complete and sometimes my work or should I say my bossess would suddenly assign us to do some additional tasks. I have great ideas, but sometimes, after I’m done with my work at the end of the day, I find myself too tired to write. Hence, I often struggle finding the time to really sit down, relax, think, plan and write. Maybe you could share some tips on how can I deal with this challenge. Thanks.

Michaela Kennedy

As always coz, great stuff! Took me 20 years to realize there’s an easier way than the blank page. 🙂

Or Shahar

I’ve just start a blog and a new online business and it feels like all I’m doing is writing. I do it all in English (not my mother language) and I literally the worst speller ever. Just today I wrote a blog post and felt really horrible about it but this video really helped because now I see that I actually already doing everything you advice.
Another thing that really helps me (beside autocorrect) is to actually turn off the spelling cheack and worry about this mistakes later. It used to kill my writing fellow every two minutes and this simple change really helps me get things done faster, with the moto: write it down now, perfect it later

Savannah Alalia

Derek

I love this post – I can relate to it soooo much 🙂 Evernote has become my the google for my brain. And I have a folder that I add new notes to for exactly this and its taken me 3 years to figure out the system….but its made a HUGE difference – it makes it fun 😀

What you have outlined here has some tweeks that I can definitely benefit from applying….so I’m off to give it a go 🙂

Much appreciated 😀

John

Great example! Eugene Schwartz wrote at least 100+ print ads. Way to break it down into a formula.

Steven Davis

I’ve been using Evernote for a while now. It’s on my phone and computer, so wherever I am I can capture my ideas, though a waterproof version for the shower would be great!

Is very different doing this for a second time with a new site and business model.

Nathalie Lussier

My big ah-ha when it comes to writing, is to block my internet. It’s super simple and might even be silly, but I get my best writing done on a plane without wifi, or when I block my internet at home.

Once the distractions are gone, I can tap into my own inner wisdom and the writing can flow.

Jasna

I think that having an outline and structure for writing is like having Mapquest when driving in a new part of town: its tells me where I am (with the current ideas) and where I need to go (what I want to share in the end), how to do it (step by step) and whether I am lost (recalculating:)).

I am not very good at this, I tend to improvise most times but I am revisiting all of that now.

Very useful, as always. Thanks Derek.

Ken

For just one article, I currently take 8-10 days to write, edit and rewrite (rinse and repeat any number of times).

It doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist and my articles are around 2000 words long, give or take.

Matt Kelly

I;m going to try this method with my column that is due to my editor on Monday. Thanks!

Thomas McIntyre

DEREK,
THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
DESPITE THE BREVITY OF YOUR VIDEO I FOUND A WELATH OF HELPFUL, LIBERATING INFORMATION.
FOR WHICH I THANK YOU (IBID )
TOMAS McINTYRE

Greg

Derek,

Viewing writing as assembling vs. creating–that’s a game-changer for me! I have no shortage of ideas but I’ve always struggled with being creative. I can see how your workflow simplifies the whole process. Thanks for sharing!

Anna

Great advice Derek!

I find the most valuable tip you’re sharing today is in the topic creation/selection process.

Clearly, proof is one of the key elements of copywriting, but I’ve always seen it as a step of editing, to add value and increase authority.
Your process is a real time saver and quality booster, since having Proof before staring writing is someway a benchmark to validate the idea.
Good job!

My strategy to overcome the “blank page anguish”?

I simply turn on my phone’s recorder and randomly talk about the topic.
At the same time I activate the dictation program on my computer and never watch the screen.
After having talked for 10/15 minutes I check the transcript and use it as a first draft.

It’s been a breakthrough for me and I hope it helps.

Thank you so much for your valuable insights!

Jared Kimball

Thanks for the free resource! I love Eugene’s book! It’s extremely insightful.

Juliana Crispo

I’d scream and I’d scream and I’d give up and just go clean my house…. cracked me up. Thanks Derek.

Sharon

I have probably written content pages for my website a hundred times and never got a really good one, plus what I did post often under delivered. Your suggestion to include my opinion and to ask people for their experiences is genius. I will write some new content pages using your process and I know it will be much better than all my previous attempts. Thanks!

Dan Perry

Thanks for the tips, Derek.

I always struggle with editing while I’m writing and it takes forever to get the first draft. I’ll give these tips a try and see how they work!

Thanks!

Alina

These are all great ideas, Derek! Thank you for this video and the worksheet!

I struggled with writing good copy when I first started my blog. I had many ideas, but they were stuck in my head and I could not make them come out. Even more, whatever ideas came out, I felt them being forced and painful. I tried to be funny, but I don’t think the posts I wrote at the beginning were funny.

Anyway, one year later, I think I found my groove and writing comes naturally now. As long as I write like I think and talk, I write my posts easily. I am even funny sometimes (I mostly write about kids pooping). I still can’t be as funny as I am in real life, but hopefully in a year from now, after practicing my writing more, things will be different.

One thing I would like to add to the 5 tips: don’t be afraid that your writing sucks. Start putting yourself out there now. Practice makes perfect!

Derek, the worksheet is extremely helpful!

    Derek Halpern

    You should always be afraid that your writing sucks. And use that as fuel to get better 😉

Brent Dunn

Perfect timing Derek.

I literally just took 14 hours to write my latest post…
Which obviously isn’t sustainable….

This is exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it!

    Derek Halpern

    Some writing takes a long time. But using this process can help eliminate some of the wasted time.

      Kam J

      Hey great video man. Appreciate the cool PDF.

      Kam

Phillipa Kiripatea

Wow so much value as usual Derek.
Awesome tips and the worksheet is top notch.
Off to come up with my 100 ideas!

    Derek Halpern

    When you’re done, do let me know what you end up writing as a result of this.

      Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

      Thanks for this actionable process, Derek. I used to get stuck in my writing process because I waited to fully understand WHAT I wanted to say and HOW EXACTLY I wanted to say it before ever writing the first word.

      That process changed when I got a helpful advice from Peter Elbow in his awesome book, “Writing Without Teachers”.

      Elbow explained that writing isn’t a transition from thoughts or meaning into language as we were told. Rather, it’s a process of discovering or ‘cooking’ what your meaning is. When you start to write, your idea is fuzzy. It’s only after you’ve written that you come to know what you wanted to say and the right words to use.

      So writing became easier for me once I took it as a process of cooking a message or discovering my meaning.

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