Writing Flow: An Interview with Kelton Reid from Copyblogger

The writing process can be a tricky thing, full of dead-ends and uphill stretches. Both writers ourselves, Kyra and I were keen to get an outside perspective on what makes for crafting great copy. Kelton Reid, Director of Multimedia Production at Copyblogger, had many interesting thoughts on the subject.


His interview below forms part of our upcoming guide, No Words Wasted: A Guide to Creating Focused Content

Is there any particular way you structure your writing process?

A strong cup of coffee, crisp stack of 4x6 notecards, research, reading, and note-taking until I'm exhausted.

Upon review, relevant notes find their way onto a legal pad or a blank Evernote page in a rough outline.

To find my writing flow—where the words just pour onto the page—I have to put on some headphones, turn off any social media, apps or widgets that might interrupt me, and close the door to my office.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” ~ Stephen King

The Pomodoro Technique is a great one if you're on a tight deadline.

Once written, I let it breathe. If I'm running up against a deadline, I'll try to unplug for a bit, then come back and do word surgery. If I've given myself ample time (which is never), I'll let it sit for 24 hours before an edit. Thankfully I have some peers on the editorial team at Copyblogger with eagle eyes.

How do you generally like to conclude your writing?

Our readers and prospects ultimately crave some kind of logical conclusion or solution from the chaos of their lives. As writers, it is our duty to provide a legible blueprint for something intrinsically valued and valuable to them.

A clear and concise "call to action" is the natural conclusion for any online publisher or brand offering answers out there on the open web. Logos is alive and well.

Any tips for dealing with writer’s block?

Yes. Don't get it.

How do you come up with an eye-catching title?

Titles, headlines, subject lines ... these are easily the most important things we craft, and they require time and study. I am a student of the "4-U" method for creating headlines: urgent, unique, ultra-specific, and useful. Sometimes it's hard to capture all four, but when you do, it's a thing of beauty.

For me, writing a great headline is like throwing darts—and I'm terrible at darts—eventually one will hit the bulls-eye. Sometimes I fill two pages with them (headlines, not darts).

Are there any online writers who you particularly admire?

I admire any writer that can evoke an emotional response (although not necessarily a controversy), because that kind of writing is hard work.

The writers that I find myself tracing and retracing (my talented coworkers excluded) are writers like Seth Godin, Austin Kleon, Hugh Howey, and Maria Popova. They work hard and clearly give a sh*t. Authenticity and authority are a combination that is hard to fake.

To see more interviews and advice on creating content, take a look at No Words Wasted: A Guide to Creating Focused Content.  

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