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The Lever #025: The Top Down Writing System

Read Time: 6.7 minutes

Welcome to issue No. 25 of The Lever

As a creator with a busy 9-5 it can be hard to find time to create. You've got to work smart, and understand WHAT you should be working on at all times.

This top-down writing system is the most efficient way possible to create content for a book or product, newsletter, and regularly scheduled content - all at the same time.


But first:

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Write Once - Distribute Twice

Imagine that you had already written your book.

Chapter after chapter of your ideas, your methods, your systems. In your words.

Do you think you could share a little piece from your book each week as an online article, or a newsletter?

Of course you could.

Now, with an article extracted from your manuscript, how hard do you think it would be to quickly turn it into a Twitter thread, or LinkedIn post?

If you guessed "not very", you would be right. It's really easy.

Finally, with your Twitter thread complete, it seems like it would probably be pretty simple to pull out a couple of standalone tweets and schedule them for delivery, right?

Yes, yes it is.

Starting from an existing piece of work allows you to repurpose content in different formats quickly and easily. This lets you focus more time on other aspects of online creation, such as building offers or building a bigger audience.

But what if you have the ideas, but don't have the book?

That's where the TDW System comes in.

But first, a little prerequisite knowledge.

The 3 Types of Content

I'll be brief, because I've written about this before, but to be successful as a creator online there are 3 types of content you need to work on simultaneously.

1. Ongoing

2. Big Project

3. Relationship

1/ Ongoing Content

Ongoing content is the top of your attention funnel. Its what welcomes people into your idea ecosystem.

Daily tweets. Weekly threads. A regular newsletter, podcast, or video release.

This is what builds trust, creates authority in the space, and attracts your audience.

2/ Big Project

If you never go further than just creating regular content then you are dabbling at the fringes. In order to truly leverage the value of the creator economy you need to create bigger, more valuable offerings.

Big projects are how you build these offers.

Books, courses, resources. These are the digital deliverables in the creator economy, and the keys to building some diversification into your life. But they take time to create.

And there is also the underlying infrastructure that needs to be built.

Websites, landing pages, email sequences.

All big projects that need constant attention.

3/ Relationships

The key to success in business and life has always been the same.

It's the people you know.

Like Mike Kim says, "Relationships are rocket ships".

Building a genuine relationship takes work. You need to invest time in others to receive their trust.

Its no different online.

Supporting others, adding to their ideas, sharing their work.

This is an activity where you can't take any days off.

The Top-Down Writing System focuses on the first two types of content, how to create them efficiently and simultaneously, so you have more time to focus on building strong relationships online.

Here's how its done:

The Top Down Writing System

The purpose of the system is to allow you to efficiently create content that engages and attracts, while writing your book at the same time.

It reorders the sequence that you develop your ideas, but while keeping the end goal in mind.

Here are the steps to get it done.

Step 0 - Prerequisites

Before approaching this idea, make sure you have a sufficiently well thought out idea or framework.

Something you can talk about for 30 minutes without notes, or having to ask ChatGPT for ideas.

If you are still finding your voice online, then start at the bottom and come back here when you've got a better idea of what your thing really is.

Step 1 - Map Your Idea

Your content should have a few key pillars or core ideas.

Understanding how these interconnect is the first step to developing them fully. It will also show their weak points.

This is what my productivity work looks like:

The main three categories are Time, Tasks, and Attention.

Each of these has supporting ideas or components underneath.

And the intersection of these three main ideas is the tool that ties them all together - time blocking.

Try mind mapping or freewriting. Get your idea infrastructure out of your head and onto paper.

Step 2 - Outline Your Book

Use your content map to create an outline.

Using mine again as an example you could see how the book could have three parts, each with chapters that support the bigger idea.

The goal here is to capture ALL the ideas in a logical order that guides the reader through.

You want this to be as comprehensive as possible. Capture all of your ideas in detail.

A simple nested list will do the trick.

The Weekly Writing Sequence

Step 3a - The Newsletter

This is where the fun starts!

Using your outline as a checklist, start working your way through the sections.

Every week, start by writing a newsletter or article that would stand alone as an excerpt from a chapter.

Stick to ONE core idea. ONE bullet point from your outline.

The finished piece will eventually be a sub-section within the chapter.

Step 3b - The Thread

Next, take your newsletter and trim it way down until it works as a twitter thread.

Format it nicely and keep the core ideas in place. Add a great hook at the start, and a call to action at the end.

For reference, a standalone thread takes me an hour or so to write.

Doing it this way takes ~10 minutes.

Try this writing sequence out to do it fast:

Step 3c - The Tweets

Now, if you've written the thread right you'll be able to pull out a few tweets that stand on their own.

You can also use the thread contents to inspire a few others.

Keep templates of proven tweet structures. Plug your ideas into that.

10 minutes later you should have 5-7 good tweets based on the idea.

Step 4 - Schedule It All

It really helps to use a scheduling software.

I use HypeFury for Twitter content, and ConvertKit for delivering the newsletter (affiliate links)

Schedule your thread. Schedule your tweets.

You can have theme days for different types of content.

Don't schedule them all at once. Spread the tweets out over a few weeks.