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Reusable Content

Reuse your blog posts and email to get work done.

By
Stever Robbins
Episode #072

Today's topic is using email and blog posting as an excuse to get work done. For a change. The quick and dirty tip is to use your replies as a way to write finished pieces that can be reused for work.

Take it from someone who’s writing a book: putting together complete sentences is work. You need subjects and predicates, and adjectives and adverbs. And don’t get me started on capitalization and punctuation. It’s so much to keep track of. I thank my lucky stars that Grammar Girl watches over me with her red pen (actually, “Track Changes” in Microsoft Word), gently negotiating agreement between my subjects and my verbs.

As hard as it can be at times, writing pervades our work lives. We write memos, reports, and letters. We write announcements, solicitations, complaints, invitations, blog entries, resolutions, apologies, and summaries. But it can be hard to get started writing, and hard to concentrate on writing well when we’re alone in an office with nothing for company but a really big bag of M&Ms.

Listener Steve Wardell wrote in with a brilliant idea: why not use email and blog posts as an excuse to do the writing you need for work?

Blogging Can Give Energy to Writing

You can use blog posts to spur on writing entire speeches, white papers, or reports. If you’re writing on a certain topic, say, ad copy extolling the joys of comfy chairs, find some horrid flaming blogger who takes an opposite point of view. Like a Pilates trainer or someone who advocates running daily. Browse their blog until you find a particularly heinous post that gets your blood boiling, and then respond. But respond intelligently, coherently, and using complete sentences. In fact, use the emotional energy to drive you, and trigger writing your masterpiece.

“I admire your stance on jogging. Jogging in urban areas on concrete has been shown to cause lower back damage if done without proper equipment. To recover, people must spend time in comfy chairs. Why not skip the injury and go straight to the comfy chair?” A simple cut and paste and you have your ad copy.

You don’t even need to post your blog comment. In fact, check the blog’s copyright. If you’re giving up rights to your masterpiece by posting it, just use the blog for emotional inspiration and then cut-and-paste the blog post into a word processing document.

Email Lets You Structure Your Thoughts for an Audience

With email, you know the people you’re writing to, so you’ll be in a conversational mindset while composing. Use this as a chance to structure your thinking. When Bernice writes, “Do you think it’s really wise to design a hovercraft that runs on banana paste?” don’t just reply “Yes.” That’s treating email as a spoken conversation. Do that and you’ll waste your chance for brilliance.

Instead, write a full conversational reply, but take the time to structure it. Use your reply to Bernice as the foundation for your Nobel acceptance speech. You don’t need to write the whole speech right now—that could be perceived as a tad presumptuous—but you can outline your basic logic.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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