The Writing Process: For Long-Form And Short-Form Non-Fiction

What do we mean when we talk about “the writing process”? We’re not talking about just the steps you go through to write a blog post, book chapter, or article. We’re also talking about how different forms of non-fiction require different approaches. 

At their heart, all types of essays are trying to make a point but in an essay for a magazine, you’ll want to get there fast and efficiently. 

On the other hand, your process for writing an ebook or online course will be much more involved because it’s meant for readers who want to learn something new or improve their lives. Here are some tips for how we use the writing process at Touchstone Essay:

How To Write An Outline For A Nonfiction Book – YouTube
Key Takeaways
1. Effective Strategies for Both Forms: The blog highlights techniques applicable to both long-form and short-form non-fiction writing, offering versatile insights.
2. Balancing Depth and Conciseness: Learn how to balance thorough exploration of topics in long-form and succinct delivery in short-form content.
3. Crafting Compelling Introductions: Discover approaches to capture readers’ attention through engaging introductions, whether in lengthy or concise content.
4. Structuring for Impact: Gain insights into structuring your writing to maintain coherence and deliver a cohesive message across different lengths.
5. Editing for Precision: Understand the significance of meticulous editing to eliminate unnecessary details in long-form and ensure clarity in short-form writing.

1. Write Short Sections

Now that you know what story you want to tell, it’s time to write.

If your readers are like most people, they don’t have hours of free time on their hands. Short stories are easier to read and remember because they’re shorter so they’ll be more likely to finish them.

This is why many studies show that there’s a correlation between how long something takes us and how much we enjoy it: the longer the experience takes us, the more likely we are not only not going to finish it but also forget about it entirely after finishing.[1] 

The same principle applies for books, too: short chapters mean readers can get through them faster which means they’ll be able to pick up where they left off whether or not they’ve left their computer behind (or if they’re reading on an e-reader). 

And since most people who use book apps tend towards nonfiction rather than fiction anyway (accordingly with how often people say that “it doesn’t matter what genre” something belongs in).

Shorter sections will help keep your reader interested without boring them out of their minds by having too many long paragraphs at once–which also makes it easier for them if/when sharing links about specific articles or chapters instead of entire books!

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2. Don’t Feel Like You Have To Be Creative

Don’t feel like you have to be creative when you write a book, even if your goal is to write a book that doesn’t sound like any other book in the world.

You can use a writing program that focuses on the writing process, organizes your ideas, and makes sure you stay on topic and proofreads as you go along. 

A good writing program will keep your focus on the task at hand: getting words down so they can be organized into an actual manuscript later on in the process.

3. Find Multiple Outlets For Your Writing

If you want to share your writing with a wider audience, then you must find an audience that is receptive to your style and voice. 

If you’ve written a book on how to make money blogging, then you should look at the different outlets where people who are interested in making money online might be looking for information. 

You may also wish to consider writing for magazines or newspapers, where there are specific topics that people use when searching for information about those subjects.

It’s also good practice to keep track of the various places where your work has been published so that readers can easily find it when they’re looking for more from you in the future.

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4. Use A Writing Program That Works For You

There are two main types of writing programs: those that can be used offline and those that require an internet connection. 

It’s up to you which one is right for you, but most people recommend the former because it makes it easier to work on your computer without having to worry about a spotty wifi connection.

If you’re looking for an offline program, popular options include Google Docs and Microsoft Word (or Office 365). Both are free to use and have great features like easy collaboration tools, spell-checking software, and built-in research tools like dictionaries and encyclopedias. 

They also sync with your smartphone or tablet so that you can continue working from anywhere on any device.

5. Write Headlines First, Then Write Copy That Fits Underneath Those Headlines

This is a simple step that can make a huge difference in your writing: write your headline first, and then write the copy under it. Headlines are the first thing readers see when they hit your article or blog post they’re what grabs their attention and keep them reading. 

The goal is to create a headline that’s short and sweet, but still interesting enough to make people want to read more. The best way I’ve found to do this is by writing active headlines in the present tense (with some exceptions). 

Active voice makes headlines sound more powerful because it shows action being taken by someone rather than just describing an event happening around them (which can feel passive). 

Present tense adds immediacy to an article while also keeping things fresh you don’t want readers thinking “Oh yeah…that happened months ago,” right? 

And lastly, writing in the first person makes any article feel more conversational and friendly; after all, we’re not robots who talk about other people’s experiences as if they were our own!

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6. Understand Your Target Audience Before You Write A Word

Before you write, understand the audience. Know what they want to hear and what they don’t want to hear. Know their interests, and which topics they’re currently interested in hearing about.

  • What do they care about?
  • How can you connect with them?
  • What can you offer them that will help them accomplish a goal or solve a problem?

How does this relate to writing non-fiction? Well, if you know who your audience is before writing anything, it will inform how you write it because that’s how people are going to consume it; 

So knowing who your audience makes sense from both perspectives: from an internal standpoint (you) and an external standpoint (others).

7. Break Up Long Sections Of Text With Images, Graphics, Or Video Links

It is a fact that a reader’s attention span has declined over the years. If you want to keep your readers engaged, you will need to break up long sections of text with images, graphics, or video links.

Images are powerful tools for explaining complex concepts and illustrating your points. They can also help make your content more visually appealing and readable by helping the reader digest information at their own pace rather than just reading through everything at once.

8. Make It Easy To Read On Any Device And In Any Format

Use a font that is easy to read. Not all fonts are created equal, and some are designed for print, not for digital reading. If you use a font like Comic Sans or Papyrus on your website or blog, your readers will have a bad time.

Use white space wisely. White space between paragraphs makes the text easier to read, as does use plenty of margins on both sides of the page (or column). 

You can also add space between lines or words to make them stand out more clearly from one another; this will help readers see at a glance which parts of your text they need to pay special attention to.

Use an image or video where appropriate to add visual interest and enhance the impact of your message with imagery that reinforces what you’re saying by showing it instead of just telling it. 

Image search tools like Google Image Search are great for finding relevant pictures for free!

Use tables if you want users who don’t know how many legs each human foot has at his disposal when reading through long-form essays online (and why would anyone want that?). 

Tables also work well in short-form nonfiction because they allow writers to present data visually without overwhelming their readers with too much information at once just remember: no more than three columns per table!

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9. Make It Something People Will Want To Share With Others

Make It Easy To Share

This one is really important. In the age of social media, people are less likely to read long-form content on their own accord and more likely to come across it as a shared link or in a scroll through their newsfeed. 

One way to make your work more shareable is by making it interesting and relevant but another way is simply by making it short! If you have an article that’s 3,000 words long, try breaking it into three 500-word pieces instead. 

Or if you want to write an essay but feel like the form isn’t conducive for sharing widely, try writing in listicle format instead lists are always popular on social media because they’re easy for readers to digest quickly.

Make It Funny

Humor can be used effectively in nonfiction writing and not just humor based on awkwardness or odd situations (although those can be hilarious as well). 

Instead of focusing on what makes you laugh personally (which may not necessarily translate into something others will find funny), think about how certain topics might be lightened up with humor rather than left heavy and serious all the time.

This is often best done by showing off your personality through witty observations on everyday life or pop culture references that people will recognize and appreciate.

10. Keep It Simple, But Not Simplistic

The best way to do this is to write in a way that’s direct and clear. Use simple words instead of fancy ones, especially when you’re writing for non-experts who may not know what the fancier word means. 

Write in short sentences, avoiding long ones that get complicated and hard to follow; avoid jargon or technical terms where possible; don’t use acronyms or abbreviations if they can be avoided; don’t use contractions like “it’s” or “they’re”; avoid clichés like “the bottom line.”

11. Create An Outline To Keep Your Ideas Organized

Once you have a clear idea of what you want to say, it’s time to start organizing your ideas. You can do this by typing them into a document or creating an outline with bullets. 

This will help ensure that your essay flows in the right order and that each section logically leads to the next one.

Your outline should include at least two major points for each paragraph, as well as any sub-points that are relevant for each major point. 

Once all this information is on the page, use it to write your first draft! If something is missing or unclear, add it in so that every part of your essay is complete before moving on to the next step: editing and rewriting (see below).

12. Be Honest About Your Expertise

The final step before writing is, to be honest about your expertise. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s a good idea to be straightforward about what you know and doesn’t know. 

If you’re going to write about something that isn’t within your area of expertise, then readers need to know that.

You also need to think about whether or not you are qualified enough on the subject matter yet. Does this mean that only experts should write nonfiction? 

No! But if you don’t have enough knowledge or experience in an area, then maybe it’s best not to tackle it at all until later on down the line. 

You can always research further once the time comes–but when starting with a project like this, focus on what’s “in” rather than what isn’t yet; otherwise, your book could end up being difficult for readers as well as yourself!

13. When Appropriate, Include Examples Or Personal Stories

The main thing to keep in mind when using examples and stories is that they should be relevant. The point of including them is to strengthen your argument, but it’s pretty hard to do that if the example you’re using isn’t on topic.

Also, remember not to overdo it with examples or stories; one or two can be effective, but if you use more than that then they start taking away from each other and diluting their impact. 

It’s also important not to choose too broad of an example or story; instead, aim for something like a concrete example from your own experience that puts a face on what you’re trying to say.

Don’t worry about finding perfect examples for everything; just try picking some out that are close enough for your purposes, and save yourself some time by making sure those work first before looking for others!

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14. Learn How To Read Aloud So You Can Catch Errors Before They Are Published Online Or In Print!

Read aloud as you write. This is the most important exercise of all, especially for long-form nonfiction. As you read what you have written out loud, listen for awkward sentences or confusing wording.

You can also read aloud in manuscript form after editing is complete to see if your work sounds conversational and engaging enough to hold readers’ attention from start to finish.

Another great way to practice reading aloud (and correct errors) is by listening to an audio recording of yourself reading your work out loud. 

This will help with rhythm and pronunciation, which are two aspects of writing that many writers tend to overlook when proofreading their own words!


The writing process is not a size fits. You do not need to follow every step to be successful. Writers need to find what works best for them and stick with it! Many different ways can lead you down the path toward a successful piece of work. 

Just remember: even if you get stuck at some point during this journey, there are always people who will help guide you back on track!

Further Reading

Expand your knowledge about the writing process and non-fiction content creation with these helpful resources:

The Writing Process: A Comprehensive Guide
Discover the step-by-step process of effective writing, from planning and researching to editing and proofreading.

Writing Engaging Content: Tips and Techniques
Learn techniques to craft compelling content that captures your audience’s attention and delivers your message effectively.

How to Write a Nonfiction Book: A Guide for Authors
Get insights into the process of writing a nonfiction book, including planning, structuring, and publishing your work.


Have questions about the writing process and non-fiction content creation? Check out these common inquiries:

How do I start the writing process?

Starting the writing process involves brainstorming ideas, outlining your content, and setting a clear purpose for your writing.

What are some effective techniques for improving my writing skills?

To enhance your writing skills, practice regularly, seek feedback from others, read widely, and explore different writing styles.

How can I stay motivated throughout the writing process?

Maintaining motivation requires setting achievable goals, creating a dedicated writing routine, and finding inspiration from various sources.

What’s the importance of research in non-fiction writing?

Research is crucial in non-fiction writing to provide accurate information, support your arguments, and establish your credibility as an author.

How can I ensure my non-fiction content is engaging for readers?

Craft engaging non-fiction content by using relatable examples, incorporating storytelling elements, and presenting information in a clear and organized manner.