How many people do you know who find writing easy? Probably not that many. The people do find it easy aren’t special in any way they’ve just adopted various techniques to make writing feel easier for them. In this blog I’ll share some of those tips with you so that you can nail your next writing task.
Jim Ryun, former Olympic track and field athlete for the US, once said: 'Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going'.
If you've ever taken something up with plenty of gusto and then very quickly lost enthusiasm it was probably because your habit wasn't well designed.
Motivation isn’t going to get your report or website copy written, but a well designed habit will.
Writing is the output of your habit. You need to focus your energy and attention on the inputs so that the writing becomes inevitable.
Inputs are things like:
Being honest about the time of day you write best at
Being realistic about how long you can write for in one session
Adding time blocks to your calendar, marking out the periods you will spend writing and setting your intention to write
Quality inputs equal quality outputs. When you adopt this approach everything will start to feel easier.
Norman Vincent Peale’s words in his book ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ are sound advice for any writer: ‘Plan your work, work your plan’.
Begin by writing down all the actions you need to complete to reach the end of your writing project.
A typical approach could include:
Establishing the message
Defining who the audience is and any call to action you want the reader to take
Researching ideas – look for existing angles can you build on, think critically and consider what disproves your thoughts and ideas
Outlining the beginning, middle and end
Editing and proofing
Then divide your time across those tasks, being honest about how long you will spend on each one (see tip 1, above).
Don’t underestimate the importance of simply ‘showing up’ to your desk or writing area. Most people don’t even make it that far, so once you’re there start writing.
If you look at your plan of action and your mind goes blank then just write absolutely anything that comes into your mind. It doesn’t have to make sense. This type of writing will warm up your mind and body to writing and you’ll be surprised how it leads quite naturally into getting you started with the writing task you have set yourself for the day.
When you do get into the ‘proper’ writing draft freely and more quickly than you’re comfortable with. Leave in leaving spelling mistakes or sentences that don’t make sense. It will give you something to work on the next time you come back to your desk.
Are you a victim of always having your phone nearby? Or having lots of windows open on your computer screen? Whatever it is that distracts you; remove it.
Try to become more mindful about your behaviour. Each time you feel the temptation to be distracted (and it will happen a lot at the start) ask yourself: what do I want to see happen next?
The answer is, of course, writing.
Then take a moment to remove the thought of picking up your phone or going to make another cup of tea and replace it with thinking about writing. Just thinking about writing is as useful as writing itself and will steer you back on the right path.
Sport psychologist Robert Kriegel has discovered that aiming for 90% perfection is the smart approach to take. Whilst working with Olympic sprinting hopefuls he identified that the sprinters were tense and tight during practice runs. Kriegel told them to try running at 90% of their normal intensity.
Everyone improved their running times.
It’s the same with writing, aiming for perfection will mean you’re setting yourself up to fail. Cut yourself some slack and you’ll produce better results.
Whether you need to improve your writing for your studies or work, Professional Academy's qualifications can help you refine your skills. Assignments in our sales, marketing, and management courses will help improve your discipline and report writing abilities, as well as marketing copywriting skills in the CIM options. If you'd like to learn more, download a prospectus, complete our Entry Level Assessment, or get in touch with the team who would be more than happy to help!