A creative’s mind is a swirl of potential. How that individual makes those ideas concrete, then hones and refines the idea is the creative process.
I’m a creator who is creating daily for work or play. That means I experiment with systems of collecting inspiration and ideas, then transforming that bank of knowledge into something.
I collect a list of links and notes to work off so when it’s time to write so all of my resources are at my fingertips.
Why use a pen and paper? It takes a bit more thought and dexterity, forcing you to slow down and shape the thought. There are fewer distractions on a piece of paper. A notification free zone.
There are countless methods to planning at least a portion of content creation on paper instead of completely on a screen.
Here are 5 steps to creating a blog post using one particular paper planning method.
Collect Content Ideas
I have several methods of tracking ideas for my creative endeavors. I have a few different idea documents for both personal and work use. Just about any big creative project I’m working on has a document where I keep all my ideas about it.
I also like to use my personal chat message channels across social to collect inspiration and ideas. For my work on the HIPBlog, I use my personal Slack channel to collect anything I want to reference quickly. I do the same thing with Facebook messenger and my personal content and ideas.
Choose an idea from this list.
Create an Idea Dump
Open a document or flip open a big notebook. I would advise both to be honest. I call these idea dumps “brain sheets.”
Then start to research the topic. Look for statistics, studies, and experts. Search for ideas that stand out.
In this phase of my research, I’m mostly high-level skimming, searching for value. I’m not reading into my notes with any depth. I copy and paste information that looks useful to review later.
PRINT OUT DOCUMENT OR TAKE NOTES
I’ve found it helpful sometimes to take a document filled with research, value, etc and print it out. Or I copy important information into a legal pad. Without a screen, I find it easier to digest the information. This helps me synthesize the information because handwriting is a more complex activity and so it challenges me to be a bit more creative.
I did a bit of research on it and found out that people in this study who read on paper scored better on tests than those who read them on the screen. This was attributed to the actual act of turning pages and touching the pages aiding in memory.
For me personally, the act of printing out the pages and reading through my notes makes it easier to draw out the details that I need to form my plan.
This is where I test angles, draw conclusions, or link information points.
Planning your Blog Post IN a Web
I also do this part on paper as opposed to a screen. Again, I suppose I could do the same thing digitally, but the act of filling a blank sheet of paper is what works for me. I record most of my personal notes and journal on paper too. I enjoy the feeling of flipping the pages and drawing out each idea while I think about where I will place the next. I feel that I plan more slowly and more effectively on paper.
WRITE DOWN YOUR ARTICLE TOPIC IN THE CENTER
It just has to be a few words; it doesn’t need to be in-depth. After all, that’s what the other bubbles on your page will be for, to flesh out the idea. I write the main idea smack dab in the middle of my page and draw a bubble around it. This is the launching point for your article and is the basis for all your subsequent bubbles.
SKIM AND PLOT MAIN IDEAS
Now go through the research and notes you’ve made and skim it over, searching for the main ideas that you want to include. These are the overarching ideas in your article. They will be the ones that will likely make up your main headings in the final post. As I come across these ideas, I write them down, but won’t put the bubbles or lines around them yet. This gives me more space to add ideas later. I also won’t put in any of the details during this stage to avoid cluttering up the page.
This is where things get a bit messy. I will add the details for each of the main ideas that I am covering. This will cover a number of areas, including bullet points, subheads, as well as random anecdotes and statistics that I want to sprinkle throughout each section. Sometimes these details will fit into more than one area and I’ll write them between the areas. That brings me to the next step.
This last step is where I draw the actual bubbles around each of the ideas that I wrote and connect them first to the main idea. Then I link them out to each detail. If a detail fits into more than one group, I link it to both. I will use it in whichever place feels more natural while I’m writing.
Now it’s time to write. I write out each of the main ideas and bold them. That way if I feel like I’m getting writer’s block or have an idea for details in another section I just throw it under the main idea it belongs under and write around it later. This method is useful when writing on a deadline because it feels more like fill-in-the-blank than a daunting white page.
This method has been working for me for a while now and I’m a really big fan of it. I’m sure other people out there use something like this but I wasn’t able to find anyone who wrote about it and used a similar style to this one.
Let me know what you think.
- Is this paper planning technique a good strategy for producing content?
- Does it work for you?
- Do you use a method you like better?