It doesn’t matter what you do, you need to attract clients. You need to prove that you’re trustworthy. You need to continue to bring leads in to your pipeline.

One of the best long term ways to do this is to start writing and publishing that writing. Yeah I know you’re a “developer” or a “designer” so you don’t trade in words. Maybe you’re even a writer, but you have no idea what to write for yourself.

Those are all excuses. I was a developer long before I was a writer. The only reason I write so much now and fast is that I’ve written over 1700 posts here plus 6 or so books, I practiced.

Monday I talked briefly about my three bucket system today let’s dig deeper into my writing process. Please steal it as much as you want. Remix it to suit you, just do it. Sit down regularly and write.

What Are the 3 Writing Buckets?

My whole writing process starts with three buckets and every day I do something in each bucket.

  1. Idea
  2. Working
  3. To Edit

You can see them as tags in Ulysses below.

Every day of the work week I add one idea. I take one idea and outline it and add research to it so that it can move into my “working” bucket. Then I take one “working” item and write it so that it can move in to the editing bucket.

I finish up by editing something so that it’s ready to go somewhere. So I guess there is a fourth bucket called “ready”.

My ready pile is something I could publish on a moments notice. Someone asks me for some content, I can look through my ready writing and find something that matches what they want. Do some more light editing or expanding to match the tone they like and send it over.

An Agile Customer Story for Each Post

When it comes to writing, ideas come in two forms. Some ideas are a link or a quote and not much else. Some ideas start with a bunch of bullet points I want to talk about. Very few ideas start with a link and some bullet points and move directly into the working bucket.

There are a few requirements to move anything in to the working bucket. First it has to have an “agile story” with it so that I can tell if the writing is done. Here is the story for this article:

By the end of this post readers will understand how I work on my writing process so that they can use it.

I’m not done until you can take my system and use it for yourself. In some cases the agile story has turned a blog post into a book. That’s what happened with my latest book The Art of Focus. I kept looking at the story and realizing that it wasn’t true yet so I kept writing.

At 18k words I realized I had a book and then built a story for each part and then a story for each chapter. This was the outline I used to write the book from. A chapter was done when the story was true. A part was done when the story for that part was true.

Steal this formula for your writing.

Schedule Time to Write

Once you have a process to use, you need to schedule time to write. Every single day my task list has “write” on it. Every single day my task list has “read” on it. This is how I write and read so much.

As I’ve said, during my writing time I generate one new idea. I outline one idea so it can be written and I write one thing so that it’s ready to be posted. Sometimes this takes an hour, sometimes it takes two hours. Some days it takes 20 minutes.

If you want to write more, then you need to take control of your time and plan to write. Then you need to stick to that schedule. If that sounds hard to you then Part II of The Art of Focus is all about taking control of your time.

One final key to your scheduled writing time is that you need to make sure you have what you need. If you must have coffee, then start with a full cup. If it takes 2 cups of coffee, bring the pot with you so that you don’t have to leave. Same goes for water or snacks.

I’m a coffee sipper so I bring a travel mug that keeps 16oz of coffee hot for a few hours as I read and write. Beside it sit the water bottle that I move to after a cup of coffee before the 2nd cup.

Set yourself up for focus and success. Take that phone off your desk and shut down all distractions so that you can do the work at hand.

If you want to write, you need to set yourself up for success. Don’t derail yourself by making it easy to get up and delay coming back to writing.

I’m Never Going to Write But…

Some of you will never write and that’s fine. My friend Jason does a daily podcast called Ask Rezzz instead of writing. He doesn’t like to write, but the daily podcast works perfectly.

My friend Eric talks with a writer around three or four topics for an hour. His writer takes that discussion and then writes 5 – 10 blog posts for him. He proofs them and publishes them.

While we glorify writing, what you’re looking for is regular content that answers questions your customers are going to be asking. Content that helps them solve problems because if you can help them solve some problems, they’re going to trust you when it’s time for the big ones.

Whatever you choose to do, steal my three bucket system. Take your podcast ideas and flesh them out with it. Take your writing and use the agile stories to make sure that you’re helping people.

Keep solving problems regularly and you’ll get customers.

Photo by: comedynose

8 responses to “The Easy 3 Bucket System to Win at Writing”

  1. Galyna Kordiiaka Avatar

    Thanks for the motivational post Curtis!
    I keep reading that good writing is a gained skill and practice makes perfect. But it’s just so hard to force myself writing every day. And when I do start writing, I usually despise my first draft. It looks like a pile of random thoughts and ideas.
    Hope it gets easier with time 🙂

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Yeah first drafts are often terrible. Just know that and move on to the editing phase. You’ll get there if you are deliberate about your practice.

      1. Galyna Kordiiaka Avatar

        Thanks for the advice 🙂

  2. Ricard Torres Avatar

    Thank you for the tips!

    I would like to try and write more, even try a podcast. Now I need to spend time, just like you say, to get ideas flowing 🙂

    Best regards

  3. Scott Gruber Avatar

    I’m gonna steal this in broad daylight, sign up to get new posts and open Ulysses to capture some ideas.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Good. I’ll make sure I grab your feed as well. I just want to see more people writing again instead of using social media.

  4. Curtis McHale Avatar

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