How to Write Without Writing

by Guest Expert

American sports writer Walter 'Red' Smith is famously quoted as saying, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein". Unfortunately, this does reflect a common myth about writing - that it's difficult and challenging. Although this is often true even for many professional writers, it doesn't have to be true for you.

There are myriad ways to write, and they don't all start by staring at a blank computer screen. Here are some other options:

  • Be interviewed: Get somebody to interview you, record the interview, and get it transcribed. Write out the questions in advance and prepare your answers. It doesn't have to be a polished interview, and you don't need a studio-quality recording. Your aim is just to get the words out of your head.
  • Convert interview: For a more polished result, do the above but also get a writer to convert the transcript into a better form for reading. This just means they edit the raw transcript by moving words around, adding sub-headings, removing colloquialisms, and so on.
  • Interview others: Interview other experts in your industry and use their material for your writing. Look for people who could serve the same readers as you, but are in non-competing fields. For example, if you're an accountant writing for property investors, you could interview financial planners, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, property managers, and so on.
  • Write an anthology: Collaborate with many other people, who each contribute one article or chapter to a book (e-book). Choose a theme for the book, and ask all your contributors to write for that theme. Give them broad guidelines, such as the length of their contribution, the ideal reader, and any formatting guidelines.
  • Write with a co-author: Collaborate with one or two colleagues to write together. This is similar to the previous idea, except you work more closely with one or two people. You might start by writing separately, but you will then combine your efforts, review each other's work, and generally work together closely to create a co-authored product.
  • Compile public articles: Collect articles from an article directory like, and combine them into a book or e-book. By choosing these articles carefully, you provide a valuable service because you're only publishing articles that you've personally filtered and vetted for your readers.
  • Re-use existing material: Use material you've already written in articles, blog posts and other snippets of writing. Even well-known authors such as Seth Godin have used this approach to publish entire books! Your readers don't mind that this material is already published elsewhere; in fact, they appreciate you putting it together for them in one place.
  • Ghostwriter for presentation: If you're a presenter, hire a writer to watch a presentation and turn that into a book. Alternatively, if you would like to outsource this to somebody who isn't local, record the presentation and send the recording, slides and handout to the writer.
  • Answer questions: Make a list of frequently asked questions from clients and customers, and answer them. This creates a highly relevant product, because you focus on the real problems of your readers.
  • Peruse e-mail answers: Look in your Sent Mail folder for e-mail replies you've written that answer somebody's question. Many of them could also benefit others, so copy and paste them (editing them if necessary to remove confidential information)

You won't necessarily use all of these options, but do be aware of them. Even if none of them suit you, put on your thinking cap and find other creative ways to write.


Gihan Perera

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