6 Ways to Create Content Faster When You’re an Overthinker
How to write without procrastinating
There’s a naughty hamster in my brain.
Some nights this hamster goes round and round on its squeaky wheel, keeping my brain awake. I doze in and out of sleep, and when I wake up, I guess that I’ve had four to five hours of broken sleep.
Yes, I am an overthinker. I am one of these thoughtful, anxious types, I always have been. Maybe you are too. Maybe you have a brain hamster, like me.
When it comes to creating content, overthinking can be a blessing. Thinking deeply takes you to the granular detail of a topic, a level that few want to visit, so you write some great content.
When it comes to running a business and creating content, however, over-thinking is a curse.
It slows us down from committing to paper, forever scribbling outlines, looping in and out of Google search to see if there’s anything more to find on a topic. Endless keyword searching. Perhaps you know what I am talking about.
Fortunately, I have developed six tips that get me writing consistently — and keep that naughty brain hamster in check.
I want to share with you these six tips that I use to write two to three thousand words a week, sales copy and presentations — all while balancing other work and a family with three very young children.
Tip 1: Find Your Own Bottom-Kicker
If you’re not British, the word bottom means your behind, and sometimes you need someone’s gentle (or not so gentle) foot to give it a bit of a hoof. When you’re overthinking things and dallying about what to do, an outsider can work wonders to keep you on track.
You should find that accountability groups work well for you. Right now, I am on two accountability groups, I talk to my father, who was a successful business owner, and my marketing teacher. They keep me moving forward.
Socially committing to people who you’ll feel silly in front of if you don’t do what you said is a fire-rocket up your (figurative) backside. Public commitment is a powerful way of creating behavior change and I find it works wonders.
Find people who are your own bottom kickers — and even if it makes you feel more uncomfortable, it will pay off because it will get you doing, not thinking.
“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” — Thomas Paine, American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary
Tip 2: Commit, Don’t Flit
It’s easy to abandon an idea halfway through. If you’re making a complete dog’s dinner of an article, say, ditch it and put it down to experience. Otherwise, commit and get it done. The practice of getting it done consistently — week in, week out — is what matters.
I won’t lie. It’s very tempting to step back and reduce how often you write. I write every day and publish two articles a week. I have a big family, my own financial pressures to provide for them — there’s always a reason not to create. Yet, sitting down to write, and doing it, is where it’s won.
Being a writer involves writing. You’ve got to commit to sitting down and writing instead of Xbox and Netflix. — Brian Keene, American author and podcaster
Tip 3: Plan a Month’s Worth of Content a Month in Advance (but It’s Okay to Change Your Mind)
At the start of the month, I scribble what I intend to write about for my newsletter, for my articles or presentations. I write a ropey headline (that will probably change) and three bullet points underneath each article. Then I put a date against when I’ll write it — and revisit it when that date comes.
“Always plan ahead, it was raining when Noah built the Ark.” — Richard Cushing, American Cardinal
However, sometimes it’s okay not to stick to the plan. And that’s when you lose the enthusiasm for a piece of content— which is why I recommend the next tip.
Tip 4: Write About What You’re Heart’s Into Today (Not What Just What You Think Will Get Clicks)
Without enthusiasm, your words become Sahara-dry.
If you’re feeling something (a bit like I am today while penning this post), it’s best to get it down asap.
You can tell when a writer is just going through the motions to write an article — and you know when another writer cares about what they are creating. It makes the end-user feel good.
If you’ve got the enthusiasm today, get writing today. Do it. Even an outline on a napkin will do. Why? Because the moment will pass and the “good article boat” will have sailed on by.
“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
— George Orwell, British author
Tip 5: Think of Your ‘Or Else’ Factor
Maybe you like to do this too, but I like to scare myself. I want to shock myself out of overthinking by imagining what will happen if I don’t turn up and write my article.
Right now, the scariest thing I can do is work permanently for someone else. And that’s why I imagine.
I have a picture of me sitting in a yearly 360 review in some big corporate office. I’m facing some nauseating ego, who doesn’t want to give me a pay raise, yet wants me to work twice as hard. Yes, it’s a vision that makes my fingers leapfrog their way to my keyboard and get typing, sharpish.
“Don’t worry about the money, darling. Worry about getting that damned train to London again and working all those hours for people who aren’t that nice.”
— My wife, last night…and every night
Tip 6: Use Grammarly if You Can’t Afford a Proofreader
And finally, a little tip. Invest in Grammarly. I don’t always have time to get my work checked and proofed. Sometimes, you need to write, check, then send.
The world isn’t perfect, and that’s where Grammarly steps in to spot the errors in your writing. It’s not 100% fool-proof, but it goes a long way to weeding out typos when you’re in a hurry. If you can afford it, do so and invest in the premium version of Grammarly.