Lists: Write faster by using patterns

A chum of mine at work asked how I manage to get so much written. I write specs, emails, documentation and how-to guides at work; I write novels, short stories, game outlines, nonfiction at home. Each of these pursuits has a different focus, however, there are some things in common:

  • Everything has a particular audience
  • In each case, there is a specific goal for the writing
  • Every kind of writing, for me, has a subject
  • There is always a beginning, a middle and an end
  • The writing is less about me than about the topic

Identify common writing patterns

Identifying common elements in a particular type of writing helps me to write more quickly. Until I know the audience, I can do research, but it is not time to start the email, the document or the story. When I have worked out who I am writing to, then it is easier to work out what needs to be said.

The pattern for documenting a meeting decision

When I am documenting a decision from a meeting, all I need to do is

  • State the problem we identified in the meeting
  • Outline the various positions on the topic (pros and cons)
  • Make sure there is an image or sketch to illustrate the cases
  • Summarize the decision and follow up actions.

Simple, right? Knowing those steps, I make a quick set of headings and start putting bullet points under each area.

Let’s look at another kind of writing and figure out the patterns that apply – blog posts for example, as that’s what I’m doing here.

Pattern for writing a blog post

  • Which blog am I writing it for – that tells me the audience
    (based on the theme of the blog)
  • The goal is to write an article that people will enjoy, one that shares actionable or thought-provoking information about some aspect of the theme
  • The subject should be descriptive and have key words
    The subheadings should also have key words to help people find the article, without being ‘click-bait’ or too catchy
  • I work out what I want to discuss and say that in the first paragraph
    The meat of the article should discuss the main elements to consider
    I ought to recap at the end and summarize – or not, depending

I’m working out the patterns for each of the types of writing I do, and will be putting it all together in a short guide.

What are some of the patterns you’ve noticed in your own writing?

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