10 secrets of being a teaching resources writer

If you are considering writing some teaching resources (for any academic subject) then here are a few pro tips. I have been writing for 20 years now, everything from Law to Accounting, ICT and Business resources. I get asked quite often what is involved, so here is a brief look behind the scenes...


1. The time portal

Be prepared to put twice or three times as long into your writing project as you anticipated. Writing will put you into a time vortex and you will wonder where 3 hours went. If you are cooking simultaneously your phone has a timer which will prevent burnt offerings. Don't for one moment think you will remember or know when 30 mins is up, once you start to write this can pass in a blink of an eye.

2. Spreadsheet

Make sure your first action every writing event starts with you opening your spreadsheet to see where you are with your project. A traffic light system works best and leave notes for your future self on what you need to do next as you will forget, even overnight.

3. Goals

Set realistic goals and clear your diary / schedule to achieve them. I chunk the day into morning, afternoon and evening writing events. Try not to have more than a "one thing" day as it will steal your writing time. For example, today I have a two-thing day so I have got up at 6am to start writing. Otherwise, you lose all your opportunities. Treat it like a job and be prepared to give 100s of hours of your free time to it. I no longer have a hobby, writing has consumed that time. Writing will need to be your top priority if you want to complete projects on time.


Good writing starts with good planning


4. Money

Lower your expectations about how much you expect to earn, it will not be enough to give up work and it does not really work out at a £ per hour. If I did work it out, would probably be about 50p per hour, maybe less. Best to consider other benefits like staying sharp, enjoyment of the writing process and so on.

5. Equipment

Spend on equipment like two monitors (essential) and a fast computer plus good quality software. Get the best drawing software and a tablet which will be great for speeding up the process of drawing diagrams. Also, have a good laptop so when you are on holiday you can carry on writing or dealing with customer enquiries. Some people can work on a phone, I can’t as I find the screen is too small so I use a laptop and sync all documents to my cloud. Also a good chair with lots of support, your back will thank you for that.



A good chair is essential

6. Dropbox

Pay a monthly fee for an online depository (like Dropbox but others are available) where you can keep all of your ongoing projects and back-ups of your sold resources. I pay £7.99 so its not a fortune. You can also link customers to it; just make sure they don’t have rights to edit. This means wherever you go you can get quick access to a synced version of whatever resource you were writing - no excuse not to continue writing. Throw away memory sticks, they are unreliable and can easily be lost, you will also lose track of what version you were working on.

7. Email

Check email and write down anything urgent, then check junk, lots of school emails end up there. These you can do on your phone so work out how to get that working and also how to remove "sent from my iphone" signature at the bottom.

8. Wellbeing

After about 20 mins of writing set an alarm on your phone to get up and move around or you will do 3 solid hours in front of the computer and then wonder why you look like someone dancing the robot when you get up. There are a variety of back and posture supports on the market and these work quite well. If you are planning a big project like a complete A Level resources pack, then you might need to consider your ergonomics, like back support cushions and foot rests etc. I have finger-less gloves for cold days and have just installed a ceiling fan in my office for hot days. Now I have no excuse not to write!


9. Writers block

It’s a real thing, I can have it for months sometimes and I have to just go away from the project and think about it until I am ready. Then once I start, I am OK. Don’t push it, and accept it when it happens. Find somewhere nice to go for your thinking. Carry on as normal and your brain will be working in the background. I’m not an expert but over 20 years of writing, I have learnt to accept it. I often return to dormant projects fresher and with a renewed vigour. Others I mothball and leave on the cloud for another day.

10. Read

Read news, books, textbooks, articles, read lots and lots everyday. For one slide I might read five articles, watch a video and carry out further research until I am happy with the result, which should be a summary of everything I have read. Always use more than one source, they often don't agree. For example try looking up 7 Ps of marketing and see how many versions you get!

I often get asked “how do you come up with your ideas?”. The answer is simple, I read a lot every day and when I find something good, I tweet it, then the article is there when I need to use it. Twitter has a search function which you can search a username and a topic – like Ansoff’s or Porter and hey presto up pops tweets with examples. Start with a google search for: Twitter advanced search.


Advanced twitter search

Good luck, let me know how you get on!

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