Want to be a better writer? Follow a process for structuring your raw materials – what Ann Handley calls a “writing GPS.” A global positioning (GPS) unit shows you where you are and plots the most direct and efficient route to your destination. Without it, you may waste many hours wandering around aimlessly, searching for your destination.
Handley, who is the head of content at MarketingProfs.com and author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, explains that a writing GPS helps you steer your writing in a consistent, concise and compelling direction that makes sense to your reader and gets him or her to take the action you seek. It gives your writing power and clarity. If you don’t begin your writing with a concise, well-organized outline, chances are your writing will be unclear, disorganized, bloated – and not very persuasive.
“In writing, process is necessary because you need a road map to get you to where you need to be—essentially, a kind of writing GPS that gets you from discombobulated thoughts to a coherent, cogent piece of writing that others can understand and appreciate,” she explains
Handley uses her 12-step process to produce longer pieces —blog posts, e-books, whitepapers and site content. Here are the steps of the writing GPS method:
- Have a clear goal for your writing
- Reframe it to put the reader into it
- Seek out data and examples
- Write to one person
- Produce the ugly first draft
- Walk away
- Give it a great headline or title
- Have someone edit it
- Take one last look for readability
The Writing GPS mind map
I converted Handley’s 12-step process into a mind map, which you can use as a template for your own writing. You can use it in two ways:
- For inspiration: Use the questions it contains to inspire your thinking.
- Capture your ideas: As you brainstorm answers to them, you can add them to your mind map. In so doing, you will be creating a solid outline to guide and streamline your writing.
Download the Writing GPS template in popular mind mapping software formats:
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