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"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 

"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"

“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

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“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 

« How the Whack-a-Mole Factor Keeps You from Writing | Main | Thinking of Blogging? Freewriting Makes it Easy »

Write Faster with Sporadic Writing

500 puzzle pieces are staring you in the face.
What do you do?

Put the puzzle together in order, top to bottom?
Or put the puzzle together sporadically?

If you’re lucky, you can start at the top and put the puzzle in order.
But, then again, you might not be so lucky.

Building your puzzle out of order, or sporadically, might be a better option

Of course, the same concept applies to writing your content. If you’re stuck writing in order, top to bottom, it’s time to play a little trick with your brain.

It’s time to write sporadically.

What do you mean, write “sporadically?”
We often associate “sporadic” to mean being “scattered,” “spotty” and “occurring occasionally.”

The Medieval Latin word “sporadic” means, “scattered like a seed” and “sow.”

This is interesting.

If we write sporadically, it means we can “scatter” and “sow” our words into our content. We don’t have to start in some magical place like the beginning. We don’t have to write in “order,” from top to bottom.

We can begin writing where we feel like writing. In other words, we can write sporadically.

Why bother writing sporadically?
Writing sporadically is liberating.

Instead of staring at the top of the page waiting for inspiration to take over, you start writing anywhere. There’s no pressure to think, “Now I have to write starting here.” You begin writing where you are moved to write; the end, the middle, the beginning.

And when you can begin writing anywhere, you have speed. You have momentum.

So how do you begin writing sporadically?
You begin writing sporadically wherever you feel the pull. Is the pull:
• In the ending?
• In the opening?
• In the three steps you want your reader to take?

If you have a rough outline of what you want to say, write what strikes you at the moment. Think “random;” there is no right or wrong place to start.
• You can write a sentence here.
• You can write a sentence there.
• Yup, you can write a sentence anywhere.

When is a good time to write sporadically?
A good time to write sporadically is when you feel sluggish, not thinking clearly or if you feel under pressure.

If it doesn’t feel orderly
You’d certainly be right about feeling that way.

If you try writing sporadically for a few weeks, you’ll discover a moment when you feel “lighter” about the demands of writing.

For example
I wrote my article “Why Precise Email Subject Lines are Like Diamonds” sporadically. I used an outline but I found myself filling in the areas here, there, and um, everywhere over time.

In summary, writing sporadically is:
1. Liberating. You don’t have to struggle with order.
2. Random. It provides your brain a bigger playground to express itself in.
3. Speedy. You write as ideas come to you.

The next time you’re stuck writing an assignment, try writing sporadically.

You just might find it easier than putting that 500-piece puzzle together.

PS. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with the "Share Article" button below. Thanks.

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Reader Comments (10)


Very good points you make here. It's simply amazing the words and phrases that a person can pour out of themselves by just writting sporadically. It's even more amazing how a person can basically put up a self-paralyzing wall by thinking too hard about "what am I going to write about today".

Thanks for takiing the time to share these good points!
July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGil Pizano
Hi Gil,

Glad you found the post helpful. I actually ran into this problem myself a few weeks ago and decided to try something new; it worked beautifully. Now I find myself writing a bit here and a bit there more frequently and with a greater degree of success. Hats off to being sporadic! =)

July 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford
I found this great piece of writing from Edward Burns tweet. I loved the puzzle analogy. Writing is not necessarily sequential. But the reader makes it so. Or not. (What about reading sporadically? lol)
Seriously, though, do you edit for flow once you've got your main writing finished or do you publish it in the order in which you wrote it? I hope this makes sense. Keep up the good work.
July 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConor
Hi Conor,

The flow comes from outlining first. Then I'll edit for for the "ear." By that I mean I'll read it out loud as if I were sharing a story with a friend. That's where I'll edit words and and there.

Outline. Write. Talk.

That's my formula. =)

July 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford
Tom, this is a great way to get past staring at a blank piece of paper or a computer screen while we agonize over what we're going to say, and how we're going to say it. Get all the stuff out first, then organize and polish it. That's the ticket!
July 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill Booth
Hi Bill,

Yes, sometimes just starting to write can be pretty difficult. Give yourself permission to start writing anywhere and then watch your results zoom!

July 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford
Hey Tom,

Nice post. In addition to helping w/ my writing, I find this approach also works really well for me when I'm editing film or video. I'll often have a strong visual image ('the pull') and wind up starting w/ that - it could be the opening, a certain sequence or scene or the close of the project. I almost never work linearly - I've found if I fight that pull to work on a certain area I just wind up spending a ton of energy avoiding what I was feeling naturally and then things start to feel forced. Trouble.

Regarding tools used, I wonder what you and others are using. <Warning: Mac-only apps ahead> In the cases where I know I have distinct 'buckets' of topics, I'll usually do a quick list in TextEdit and then start w/ indented sub-topics. But when I'm in a sort of 'globule idea' state, I try to go w/ more abstract tools to keep me on a creative level. Some of the ones I like are Curio for its free-form writing (almost as good as OneNote for Windows), Scrivener as a great overall writing app useful for larger projects, and MindManager for mindmapping (it's better for PC but still OK for Mac).

These tools require the added step of translating to a client-ready doc (w/ the exception of Scrivener) but I find the looseness really helps me go w/ whatever I'm pulled into at the moment.

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertony
Hi Tony-

Like you, I rarely worked linearly in video, too. Of course, I remember the days 25 years ago when you HAD to work linearly– going back to rework things was a pain. :)

I haven't used the tools you mentioned but I do create mindmaps manually. I frequently use freewriting to bust through the other side. If you're stuck, freewriting is one the quickest ways to generate new ideas. Read my interviews with Mark Levy, author of "Accidental Genius." His techniques are truly powerful.

Thanks for swinging by. =)

August 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford
Hey Tom,

Oh yeah - freewriting is something I do every day. I just never realized it had a name other than 'ok, let's see what comes out of my directed typing rant today.' :)

Nice interview w/ Mark, btw.


August 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertony
@Tony that's too funny! yup- it works! =) =)
August 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford

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