How To Become A Prolific Writer

Nicolas Cole

Anyone can become “prolific.”

Did you know that?

Sometimes, it seems like the writers & creators who succeed on the Internet have some magical skill set nobody else does — as if they (and only they) have the ability to generate so many compelling ideas, over and over again.

Well, let me tell you…

There’s a method to the madness. (I wrote a whole book about this called The Art & Business of Online Writing).

How To Become Prolific

Contrary to popular belief, today’s most-read writers are the furthest thing from “perfectionists.”

In fact, if you study any of today’s biggest creators (whether they are writers, video makers, podcasters, etc.), they all share one thing in common: they are less concerned with being “perfect,” and more focused on generating “good enough” ideas, day after day after day.

And we have a simple framework for how you can do the same.

In Ship 30 for 30, we call this our Endless Idea Generator.

The Endless Idea Generator makes it easy to not only come up with dozens and dozens of new ideas of things to write about, but also makes it easy to understand which format is going to work best for the idea you want to communicate with the world.

Here’s how it works.

Step 1: What Do You Want To Write About?

First, take your topic, and then challenge yourself to pick a direction.

  • Actionable (here’s how)
  • Analytical (here are the numbers)
  • Aspirational (yes, you can)
  • Anthropological (here’s why)

By choosing a direction out the gate, you will force yourself to decide what sort of journey you want to take the reader on and where you ultimately want them to end up. Think of this decision the same way you would making travel plans. You would never book a flight saying, “I just want to go to the East Coast. Anywhere will do.”

No, what you’re going to do is book a flight to a very specific destination — say New York City — and then make travel plans based on that destination: what clothes you’re going to pack, what activities you plan on doing, etc.

So, it’s not enough to say to your readers, “We’re going to the East Coast.” That’s not enough.

You want to tell the readers exactly where you’re taking them, and what sort of activities you have planned.

And the more conscious you are of these decisions from the beginning, the clearer your ideas will be communicated in your writing.

Step 2: Which Proven Approach Is Going To Work Best (For This Topic)?

Once you’ve chosen a direction, the second step is to figure out how you want to organize your writing.

  • Is this a “How To” article? Then it should be organized in steps (Step 1, Step 2, etc…).
  • Is this a “Lessons Learned” essay? Then it should be organized in lessons (Lesson #1, Lesson #2, etc…).
  • Is this a “Mistakes” Twitter thread? Then it should be organized in mistakes (Mistake #1, Mistake #2, etc…).

The key here is to structure your piece in a way where all the main points & subheadings follow the same pattern.

What you don’t want to do is write a “How To” piece, but then have your first main point be a “Step,” and your second main point be a “lesson,” and your third main point be a “mistake,” etc. This makes it very hard for readers to know what they’re reading and follow your train of thought. (*Now, you can combine Steps, Mistakes, Lessons, etc., in each section, but how you ORGANIZE the piece should all follow the same overarching pattern.)

Step 3: What Credibility Can You Leverage To Help The Reader Trust You?

The big question readers ask themselves when opening a new piece is, “Where is this information coming from? Why should I trust you?”

The mistake writers make here (which keeps them from writing anything at all) is thinking they need to be some big, fancy expert in order to write about a subject. You don’t. You don’t need to be Tony Robbins or Jeff Bezos or Barack Obama. You just need to tell readers why you are writing what you’re writing, and why they should consider your perspective on the subject.

There are three big ways to do this.

  • The first is to tell the reader why you actually are the expert — and do so explicitly.
  • The second is to tell the reader who the real expert is, and how you went out and curated their advice.
  • The third is to tell the reader you aren’t an expert, but are just sharing something from personal experience.

Put It All Together: The Endless Idea Generator

Because in order to become a “prolific” writer, you can’t be expected to sit down in front of a blank page every single day and start 100% from scratch.

That would make the creation process 10x more taxing.

Instead, what you want to do is use processes, frameworks, and mental models like these that allow you to create “templates” for yourself. Every time you want to share a story, what framework are you going to use? Or, every time you want to write about a trending topic or something that’s happening in the news, which format is going to work best?

The only difference between “prolific” writers and creators and everyone else is that, before they even write a single word, they already know which format or framework they want to use.

As a result, the writing process becomes very plug-and-play.

🤯🤯🤯

Crazy, right?

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