Content creation can be a lot like cooking a meal for your in-laws. Things can get pretty chaotic in the kitchen.
So much to chop, dice and sauté in so little time, and no room to budge on quality. One misstep (like mistaking salt for sugar) and you have to start over or serve a subpar dish.
Chefs face the same challenge preparing star-worthy meals for large crowds. And any chef worth his or her salt employs an age-old tactic to counter chaos and reduce cooking time. The same tactic can help you write better, faster.
It’s a simple concept called mise en place (pronounced meez ahn plahs), French for “putting in place.”
The idea is to map out every detail and arrange all necessary ingredients and tools within easy reach before you start cooking. Your writing will benefit from a similar approach.
Here’s a four-step process for cooking up quality content in half the time:
1. Frame Your Content
Like a chef, you need to prepare your workspace for success.
Before you write, chop up each ingredient you want to bake into the content. In practical terms, that means outlining key sections or points you’ll cover, and having relevant references (data and sources you want to quote) handy.
Your outline doesn’t have to be final; its job is to organize your thoughts and take you from hazy brainstorm to a clear path. (It’s also a great antidote to writer’s block, by the way.)
By the time you start writing, you’ll have a solid structure that you can just fill in the blanks.
2. Write Without Overthinking
Ernest Hemingway famously said, “Write Drunk. Edit Sober.”
Even the best writers start with a messy, incoherent, ugly first draft. They toss word after word on the paper knowing they can clean it up later during the editing stage.
Pour your creative juices on the page and craft a hideous first draft. Don’t correct your grammar or spelling. Just write.
Your first draft will make you cringe, and that’s normal. No one will ever see it. That piece of content is for your eyes only.
Write quickly and shamelessly. You can polish it later.
3. Let It Simmer
Your first draft is complete! Yessss.
Before you continue, take a break: Force yourself to stand up and walk away from your desk for a moment.
I’m serious about this. Science says switching your body’s position helps to reset your brain, spark creativity, and even change your mood when you’re stuck. And that’s exactly what you need to edit a piece you’ve been staring at for a while.
Some writers go as far as waiting a full day or two before returning to their draft. I recommend this if you have the time, but even ten minutes can be helpful.
So take a breather. Get a cup of coffee, stretch your legs, check Instagram, get some fresh air, switch tasks for a while.
4. Refine Your Content
Having taken a break from your first draft, it’s now time to go through it with a fine-tooth comb.
This is your chance to rearrange sentences, remove blunders, boil away excess, and spice up your writing.
In chefs’ lingo, this is called “plating” — arranging your dish in a way that makes patrons drool and swoon over your creation at first sight.
Try It For Yourself
The mise-en-place concept is about eliminating fuzzy thinking and false starts before you start writing. Its goal is to save you time and mental anguish, making a daunting assignment much easier to manage.
Give it a try: Prep your writing like a master chef for content so sweet, it’s good enough to eat.