Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Updated Writing Strategy for Demand Studios

A few weeks ago, I set some new financial goals for my freelance writing earnings. One of these, my upcoming vacation, is rapidly approaching. While I've been able to ramp up the number of articles I've written per week since my recent writing slump, I'm still searching for ways to become a more efficient writer.

According to the Demand Studios forums, there are folks out there writing 10 to 20 articles per day. Mind you, these people are full time writers, and I am not. However, I have been reading the forums to find out their secrets to increasing quantity without sacrificing quantity. Here's what I found:
  1. Select titles that are easy to write - Things you know or things you know how to research efficiently
  2. Use custom search engines and bookmark lists to speed up research
  3. Stay focused - Remove distractions, use tools to help with focusing
  4. Have a strategy - Select titles in one session, do research in another session, write in another, submit in yet another session
  5. Choose articles in formats you know well
  6. Know when to let go - Unclaim articles if the research cannot be completed within a certain amount of time

Number 1 should be a no-brainer. But, I just spent the last 2 hours researching articles that seemed like they would be a breeze to research, and they weren't. I primarily write list articles and they require at least 3 items in the list. Often, I choose a title that only has 1 or 2 items after a half hour of research. I have finally learned to let these articles go. If I can't identify 3 items for my list within 15 minutes of research, I unclaim the article. I don't feel bad about it, I just move on.

Number 3 is something that I continue to work on. I frequently write in front of the TV. I'm not used to concentrating in complete silence, so I need some background noise. It wouldn't matter if it was the TV or the radio, but I need something. Sometimes it's nice to have somewhere for my eyes to go when I'm thinking. Sometimes it's a major distraction. I've learned that there are certain types of TV shows that make good "radio" and others which constantly beg for my eyes. As far as apps go, many DS writers use Focus Booster. This app is based on the Pomodoro time management technique. I have tried the online version, but it didn't really work for me, since it was on one tab, while my work was on other browser tabs. Not sure how it would help, unless I put it in a corner and never covered it up. I'm going to try the desktop app, and see if that works better. Some folks swear by it. If it works, it may help me at work, too. Although, I'm sure IT won't let me install it.

Number 4 is the latest item I'm working on. Many of the most prolific writers at DS write in batches of 10. They choose 10 titles, research them, write them and then submit them in a batch. I was hesitant to do this at first, fearing that this process might take 3 days to do and reduce the number of regular paychecks I got, but in the end, I've decided that even if I only get paid once per week, if that paycheck always has 10 articles in it, I'm making more than when I work on one article at a time. Plus, I tend to work better in batches. When I'm researching, I'm on a roll. That is not the same mindset I need to write. When I'm in that writing mindset, it would be better to capitalize on it and write several articles. For me, the writing mindset occurs the least often, while some of the other tasks are easy to do no matter what else is going on in my life.

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