With every new writing project, we’re (in theory) trying to solve a problem or answer a question. However, when we start a project it can be easy to get the process confused with the point of the project, as Joshua Porter captures quite nicely:
Solve the problem and you’re successful no matter what process you’ve been using. The point is hard to talk about because it’s precisely what’s different in your project…it’s the thing that you probably don’t have a process for yet (if you did it wouldn’t be a problem!). It’s probably something that you can’t talk about anyway because you don’t want other people to solve it before you (e.g. your competitors).
So we instead talk about the process. But we should remember not to confuse the two. The process is valuable…it’s a framework for deciding what to do next…and we need that…but it’s merely a means to an end. Don’t let process details distract you from solving your problem in any way possible.
The Process is important…but it’s not the Point.
Start As We Mean to Go
I always recommend that writers and businesses get really clear about their intent at the beginning. It seems like a no brainer, but I’m always amazed at how many people skip this step and fail to answer three important questions:
- What’s the question want to answer or the problem you want to solve?
- Do you want to establish authority and expertise?
- How much time do you really have?
The Big Idea
Without fail, the first question draws people up short. They often believe that picking a subject was the only requirement. To create good content requires something a little more. Since we’re literally drowning in content at times, we have to make it really clear why our new content should rise to the top. And that requires answering a question or solving a problem. Nail that down and you’re 50 percent done with the prep work.
Authority and Expertise
I use this question to help content creators understand a few things like tone and even the channels they use to share their content. Depending on the industry, establishing authority varies. So understanding from the beginning if the intent is to submit the original work to a peer-reviewed journal as opposed to a post on a blog, makes a big difference about the direction and resources that will be needed. Again, the point of why one is writing matters more than the process. So the process can’t get in the way of making the point.
Honest About Time
Writing takes time. Really good writing takes more time. If creators are honest from the beginning about the real circumstances, like time and budget, they’ll invariably end up disappointed with the results. Staying aware of time can make a huge difference in the success of a project and whether it accomplishes the big goal of answering the question or solving the problem.
So the next time a new project appears, don’t get too caught up in the process and miss the point.