Last November I had been doing this blog a disservice. What with Thanksgiving and a lot to do at work and despite a successful month in October with the most visits ever, I barely broke 1,000 for November. December has been much better, mostly on account of posts introducing new social shopping site StyleSays and my interview with StyleSays co-founder Jess Lam. What with trying to write for this blog along with projects at work and posts for Contently’s blog The Content Strategist, I found myself constantly having to write. Trying to ideate interesting stories and write them well is difficult, so I was happy when over Thanksgiving I rediscovered my method for writing I perfected in high school and college but seemed to have forgotten in the past two years. Working in an office for fifty hours a week and having to figure out how to pay the bills makes that happen.
The Notecard Method
I started using the notecard method when doing research. My sister Theresa and I were discussing where we learned this and we think it was a Mrs. Riley in the English Department at St Mark’s High School. When doing research, take a pack of notecards and write one fact or quote per card, write the topic category in once corner and the source in another. As you go on, you start to find the real nuggets of information you need to write something awesome. Afterwards you can also organize your cards and get an idea of how to organize this information, which leads to…
So simple, yet forgotten so often. The key to a good outline is the power of threes. You have three sections of a post; introduction, body and conclusion. Within each of those areas you are going to have three talking points. For each of those three talking points, especially for those in the body of the post, you are going to need three facts to back up each topic, which is when you start to use your notecards as reference. BOOM! I think of it as a puzzle where I’m trying to arrange each part as I see fit.
The Actual Writing
After filling in facts, I need to connect the facts and write so each section transitions into the other one. This is me taking the research I did and adding my two cents and writing style to the post. Pretty quickly you have a lot of material you can condense, or realize that everything is valuable.
I have been applying this method to blog posts and presentations for work. Before I used to build a Powerpoint by writing on each individual slide and never being able to take a step back and look at my work. Now I find it more efficient to write out an outline – it’s also easier to pass around for feedback than a Powerpoint would be. I also prefer writing out an outline by hand. For me, typing it up makes it seem so finalized, while writing it out will reassure me that it’s still a work in progress.
It make me smile to think that a method I used for research papers in high school works so well now. It’s true, you DO apply what you learned in high school to real life –> except for the intricacies of physics. No one needs to know that; I especially shouldn’t because I am not a rocket scientist. In fact, working in social media, I WISH I had equations I could throw out whenever I pleased.