Kevin Bell

5 Lessons I’ve Learned To Turn My Messy Ideas Into Articles People Want To Read

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I believe that becoming a master at your craft requires you to be able to teach it.

This is where we really find out whether we know something well enough to explain it simply.

Like the popular Albert Einstein quote:

“if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

It’s part of YOUR personal learning experience to be able to pass your newly acquired knowledge on to others and in that process, learn more.

Then do more

Then teach more.

Learn. Do. Teach. Repeat.

Otherwise we break the cycle of the evolution of knowledge.

None of us got here on our own. We’ve all learned from someone.

Whether it be our parents, teachers or mentors. SOMEONE has passed down their knowledge to you.

When we can loosen the grips we have on our own expertise and share it with the world without asking for anything in return, THAT is truly when we begin to provide value.

In my writing journey, I’ve reached that first “progress milestone” where I feel comfortable looking back a short ways and sharing what I now know.

The other important point to take note on here is that too often we don’t stop and take notice of where we are WHEN we’re actually there.

Most times our reflection comes from after the fact… sometimes LONG after the fact.

By that time, the story is blurry, the experience is watered down, the memory is a little faded, the emotions aren’t right on the surface.

It might be a great story, but when you are IN it, that’s the raw footage that people want to see.

For 8 months I was an “iPhone Notes Blogger”. For 3 years before that I was an “iPhone Notes Scribbler”.

I’ve written hundreds of articles, life lessons, tweets, quotes and memories for no one else other than me. Some might not ever make it to see the light of day.



I think I was afraid.

I was fearful of what people thought. And if I’m being totally honest with myself, I still am.

I doubted that I was good enough

It was also:

All of that and more.

It stopped me from sharing my work…but regardless of all of these doubts and fears, I still had things I wanted to say.

A feeling that I had words that NEEDED to be shared. And for the first time in my life, the belief that maybe, JUST MAYBE, others would feel similar things and want to hear what I had to say.

For years it was just for me

Now, it’s out there for the world to see. (Be gentle please)

With that said, I’ll get off my soap box and share the 5 lessons I’ve learned SO FAR on bringing those messy ideas in your head, into articles that others want to read… hopefully.

Lesson #1

Think about articles by their title

In the world we live in, the attention grabbers are the titles that we see. They are the reason that we choose to read an article or watch a video or buy a book, etc.

Most times you don’t have the luxury to really dive in deep. It’s surface level examination that allows us to make a decision with in the first few seconds of seeing it.

Our days are bombarded with information and media to consume left and right, and the quickest way to filter what we consume is from the title.

When a subject to write about comes to mind, I immediately start processing what that title could be. This helps me begin to form the rest of the article.

I might not always stick with the title, but that is the initial premise that I use to start the flow of the article.

For example, this title has been changed 4 times from when I first made notes on this article.

First time — Write Your Articles One Title At A Time

Second — How I Write Articles By Focusing On These 5 Things

Third — Start With The Title And The Rest Will Follow

Lesson #2

When the idea comes into to your brain, write it down immediately.

Do whatever you can to get the concept down on paper or in the notes of your phone before it gets away from you.

You hear a lot of writers talk about their writing routines and the 1–2 hour blocks they have in the day to really sit down and write, and that’s awesome.

If you have that availability, take it and use it.

But if you’re like me, the only opportunity that I have 1–2 hours of dedicated time is during the weekend when the kiddos are napping, and that’s IF we time everything right.

I lucked out today putting the kids down for naps and have some time RIGHT NOW, so I’m finishing this piece that I have sporadically written over the last few days.

That is why lesson #2 is so crucial for me. I almost NEVER have to opportunity to write the article when the idea is first born in my head. That’s why I needed a strategy to lock down the idea and the foundation of the piece so that I wouldn’t lose it.

It’s SUPER simple.

I “bullet point it”.

Once the title comes to me like I talked about in lesson #1, I get to my phone immediately and hop into the notes.

I have a note where I keep a running log of all the articles I want to write and the foundation of each article listed.

After I jot down the title, I follow that with 5–10 bullet points with subjects that I plan to cover in the article.

Remember, these notes are for YOU.

Whatever you need to write down to refresh your memory and spark the idea again, write it down.

It might be a handful of days until you can get back to writing the full article, so you want to articulate your thoughts clearly enough in the “note taking window” so that when you DO come back to it, you’ll know exactly what you meant.

I think of it like writing a police report, (my day job is as a cop) as weird as that may sound. Follow me on this one here;

I write police reports daily at work for the different crimes that take place / the arrests that I make.

Some of these cases end up with me testifying in court… YEARS after the fact. Which sounds crazy, but it’s 100% true.

When I get subpoenaed, most of the time I barely remember the incident.

Thankfully we have body worn cameras and I can review the footage for it, but the juice of it is within my report.

If I don’t do a good job writing the initial report, articulating all the facts and variables involved in the incident, I’m going to struggle recalling the reasons for my decisions when I’m on the stand.

And if you’ve ever had to testify in court and be grilled for a couple of hours about something you wrote, you’ll think twice about EVERY LITTLE THING that you put in reports moving forward.

All that to say is, make sure to write those bullets points down as if you are writing a police report you might have to testify on.

It’s just an idea for an article, it’s not life or death, but your ideas are important and deserve to be published. Write them down so that yu can remeber them properly.

Here is an example of the notes I wrote for this very article:

How I write articles:

The last point was 100% accurate. I was just about to give the kids a bath and this thought came to me, so I wrote it down to get it out of my head and write it later.

Lesson #3

What is the point/idea/concept that you are working towards?

This isn’t something that necessarily needs to be written down, but it IS something that needs to be fleshed out through whatever kind of processing you do before writing.

You have the title and the bullet points, but what exactly are you wanting to work towards in the article?

What are you leading the readers to by the end of your article?

Often times, this is something that comes together as you write it, but the more you process through it before your fingers start typing, the clearer it will be throughout the piece.

This piggybacks off of what the original idea for the article was and what you “promised” in your title.

It’s something that brings it all together.

It isn’t a conclusion per se, but more of a destination that you want to take the reader as they travel through the article.

In this case, I wanted this article to cover:

  1. Learn. Do. Teach.

  2. Tips for piecing together your article for when you sit down and write it

  3. Even though life is busy, our ideas are worth sharing. Find a way to share them

As I’ve written his article, it’s evolved and grown as the words have poured out, however, having those 3 main intentions from the beginning have helped me stay on track.

Lesson #4:

WHO are you writing the article for? And furthermore what do they want to hear?

This one plays off the last lesson, but in this case, you want to think less on where the article is going and more on WHO you are taking on the journey.

Maybe you have a publication in mind that you’re writing for.

Or maybe you have an avatar put together about who your ideal reader is.

MAYBE your ideal reader is you, and your hope is that the article that you write reaches someone out there that thinks and feels the the same as you.

Regardless of who you intend to write the article for, your content will make the most impact if you have SOMEONE in mind.

It’s an easy trap to fall into where you just start writing and zig zag around without direction or real clarity.

I get it and boyyyy have I been there, but the second that you actually lock in the person/ publication you want to direct a piece at, it’s like someone turned on the GPS of your writing.

Each word that flows out will have purpose as if you are talking directly to your reader… because in the end, you are.

Lesson #5:

Bringing it all together.

You start a piece with a title that pulls readers in.

You follow that with a little hook and background that keeps your reader engaged.

You then start to provide lessons and practical information that is both witty and informative.

Maybe you throw in a relatable or unique story to keep the readers on their toes…

But all of that will fall short if you can’t bring it home.

It’s a slippery slope when we get into the zone. The background blurs around us as we are pounding away at the keyboard, nodding in agreement with the masterpiece that we’re producing.

Door after door of literary genius opens and we run through them on a mission…

But then we near the end…

And just like hikers who were too busy enjoying the beauty of their hike and all of sudden look around and don’t see the trail anymore, we too have to snap out of the beauty of our “hike” and have to find a way back to the trail.

If you start with a title in mind, bullet points on the piece so that you don’t forget what you wanted to say, clear intentions on where you want the piece to go, AND an avatar that you are writing for, the ending should present itself.

Key word SHOULD.

But that’s not always the case.

If that’s the situation you find yourself in, do this:

Go back to the very beginning and read it all the way through. In your head or out loud. Either is fine.

As you read it, think about how you would want this to end if you weren’t the one writing it.

If this was the first time that you read the article, what would you want to bring it all together.

Simply find the missing piece of the article. It’s there, you just need to step back and read through it in order to complete the thought.

You were the one who wrote the article, the ideas came from your head and your voice. Once you actually read it through as you near the end, you’ll be surprised how easy it will be to finish the thought.

It’s really just about bringing peace to the mind of your reader and concluding the thought that you were trying to express.

I liken it to one of the most difficult things about parenting;

When my wife is trying to tell me something important and we get interrupted with the kids fighting or needing something and we can’t ever seem to get back around to what she was saying.

I’m on pins and needles wanting to hear what she had to say or how the story ends.

Just like that, your reader has been on this journey with you and wants to be at peace with the ending.

Wrapping this up

What you have to say is too important to not be shared.

I know you have ideas swirling around in your head and you look at life differently than others.

I know that you have big aspirations and things that you want to accomplish.

I know that you want to bottle up the experiences that you’ve had and teach the world how to work through them in ways that you had to figure out on your own.

I sit here right now, deeply wanting to read those stories, learn those lessons and hear about those accomplishments from you.

If this in anyway resonates with you, these 5 lessons will get the momentum going.

These have helped me tremendously and my wish is that they can help you as well.

The things you have to say are worthy of being heard.

#Success #Writing #life lessons