Managing long form writing, like a book or long article, requires a different set of writing skills to short form works.
Shorter content, like a pithy social media posts on Twitter or an 800-word blog post, is more popular than ever. But what about long form content?
Writing long-form content is a real challenge.
- Not every writer can create 2,000-word content that's enjoyable to read.
- Many platforms prefer posting short-form content as it's ideal for striking the audience and generating more organic traffic in a shorter period.
- Long-term content will not serve your purposes if not executed properly.
- It's challenging to write high-quality content all the time.
- Long-term content must keep readers' attention for more than 10-20 seconds.
You have confidence in your writing skills.
But have you considered the challenges of tackling a large project? Content creators have to master certain skills to succeed with long-form content.
What is Short Form Content?
Popular examples of short-form content include:
- Blog posts under 1,000 words
- Twitter, Facebook and other social media posts
- One page articles
- Short reports
What is Long Form Content?
A book is the most common example of long-form content. Other popular examples of short-form content include:
- Long reports, articles or blog posts over 1,000 words
- Narrative journalism
- Personal essays
Why Write Long Form?
Many authors set out to write a book because they want to share an idea or a story, earn money or build authority.
Narrative journalism typically runs several thousand words in length. A piece of this length allows the writer more time and space to delve into a challenging topic.
Similarly, longer web articles tend to perform better in Google search engine rankings, as they naturally include more long tail keywords. These in-depth resources also attract the coveted backlink from reputable sites more easily.
Finally, business owners sometimes commission long-form content as part of a content marketing strategy. These free gated reports and guides help them build a more profitable relationship with potential customers.
How To Manage the Long-Form Writing Process
A content creator engaged in the art of long-form content creation needs a clear system for managing themselves and the writing process.
1. Schedule Writing Time
First, review your deadline for the project at hand. Next, review your calendar for the weeks ahead up till this big deadline.
Book time in your calendar to work on a long-form project without interruption. You must know what you need to do each day in order to finish on time. It's also a good idea to allocate an extra 20 per cent of your time for self-editing.
2. Set Goals
Achievable daily writing goals are key.
Saying you want to write every day isn't a goal, it's an idea. On the other hand, committing to a set word-count or hours spent writing each day is more achievable.
Similarly, if you're creating a gated asset as part of a content marketing strategy, set metrics around downloads and engagement.
Break your goals into manageable and bite-sized tasks, so that if you fail it's not detrimental to your entire process. Plan smaller, achievable goals, and create milestones for motivation.
3. Break Your Project into Stages
Self-control is increased by using high-level categorisation, abstract thinking, and global processing, which means focusing on the destination. However, motivation often relies on focusing on tasks.
For example, if you're on a treadmill, you can divide your hour into 10-minute sections, and focus on getting through each 10-minute goal one at a time.
This is less daunting than going after 60 minutes if you're not accustomed to running, and the method increases the time that most people are on the treadmill, because the end of each section is in sight, which provides motivation.
Breaking large writing projects down into short, easy to complete tasks allows you to do the same thing. For example, turn writing a chapter, into smaller ones, such as research, outline, initial draft, second draft, and editing.
4. Start Small
Stephen King's popular “write every day” advice is applicable for professional writers. But, what if you're starting off?
Research by Kenneth McGraw shows getting started is the hardest part of a big writing project. Most of us focus on the goal result, which can be quite intimidating. For this reason, you're highly likely to put off starting a big project, because it feels like too much work.
Doing mindless tasks, like reorganising your desk, or suddenly remembering you have to clean your entire house, is a byproduct of this. To avoid this problem, try starting small. Write a single sentence or promise yourself to take a break after just half an hour. The momentum may sustain you to keep going.
Clifford Nass of the Stanford Research center proved that multitaskers were less productive overall than their non-multi-tasking counterparts. While engaged in long form writing, disconnect from email, the news and social media. If possible, clear your schedule for the morning or afternoon.
Use the Pomodoro Technique to work in short blocks of about 27-minutes. After four blocks, take a longer break. If it helps, wear a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and listen to binaural beats or white noise. It will help you enter a state of creative flow faster.
A team led by Roy F. Baumeister found that ego depletion, or the concept that willpower is an exhaustible resource, is definitely applicable.
People in the study who used willpower for things like eating radishes when chocolates were on the table gave up sooner in subsequent difficult tasks than those who got to eat the chocolates.
If you exhaust all of your willpower, you won't have the motivation to keep going.
So, how do you get around this issue?
- Based on the 1993 research findings by Anders Ericson, the most successful results come to those who don't practice until you are blue in the face but use your energy and willpower in short bursts of about 90 minutes.
- Based on the findings of John A. Caldwell for the U.S. Airforce, those spending 16% of work time on rest are more alert and performed better than those who don't. Also, engage in demanding tasks first, when you have the most energy.
- Use tactics like the Pomodoro technique, where you write in 20-minute blocks, followed by a break. It allows you to focus your energy on short, achievable goals. Plus, it requires much less willpower than forcing yourself into a high energy state of productivity for the entire day.
Long Form Content: The Final Word
Tackling long-form writing can seem intimidating, but you can motivate yourself to keep going and hit your goals with the right approach. It's a great way of showcasing your work, finding a wider audience and building a lasting relationship with readers.
About the Author
This post was written by Mike Hanski who did a couple of big writing projects for Bid4papers , and many smaller ones for his freelance clients. He reads a lot, plays the guitar and constantly searching for new ways of writing more (better) words in less time.
Long Form Writing: FAQS
What is long form copywriting?
Examples of long form copywriting include a sales page of several thousand words or a long email sequence that takes several days to reach a pitch.
How do you write long form?
Write long form by setting a clear goal for what you want to accomplish and when. Block book time to work on the project at hand. Break it down into small milestones that you work on each day. While writing long form, focus! Avoid multi-tasking.
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