If you have something to say, writing it down is often a good way to get it across. Anyone can read it, you don’t need to be there in person, they don’t have to be ready to know about it when you’re ready to tell about it… it’s very convenient really.
However, getting what you want to say into a tidy line or two of words isn’t always as easy as all that. If you’re supposed to be blogging regularly for your business, or need to write web content, or a leaflet, then you can waste a lot of time staring a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to strike.
So, here are my handy hints for writing.
1 Make a plan
Sit down ahead of time and make a plan for what you’re going to be saying in your blog across the next 6 months, or make a list of the points you need to cover in your leaflet or web page. That way you don’t have a blank page, you have a heading and some points. Then you ‘just’ need to expand on that. It makes it just a little less intimidating.
2 Set a time
Figure out when writing comes most easily to you. It might be after lunch. It might be first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, after some of the other stresses have been dealt with and you’re feeling a bit more mellow. Whenever it is for you, make a time and stick to it. For me, I blog nicely when I’m waiting for my daughter’s ballet class – there’s limited internet connectivity in the hall, and not very many people either!
Try to keep distractions out if you can – put the phone onto silent, don’t look at your email, and if you can arrange for your boss, co-workers, kids, spouse, dogs and Great Aunt Flo to be elsewhere, that’ll probably help too.
Are you the kind of person who produces their best work two minutes before the deadline? Or does pressure like that scramble your brains to mush, meaning you prefer to work with plenty of time in hand? If you promise yourself lunch when you’ve finished, will that help? Will a line of chocolate buttons, to be eaten one by one after every 100 words, achieve a motivating effect, or will you just ‘accidentally’ eat them all first, and feel a little bit ill as well as guilty?
If you can find a way of kidding your brain that it needs to settle down and get on with it, use that.
4 Don’t wait for genius to strike, just write something
Accept that you’ll never be Shakespeare. Understand also that some words on a page are guaranteed to be better than no words on a page. Some words can be edited into better words, which is progress. You will probably not ever write the kind of prose that makes people jump to their feet shouting ‘Yes!’ but if the most you can achieve is writing something that makes a person go ‘hmm, that’s interesting’, then count it a win.
The greatest creative minds agree that most of their output isn’t all that – artists, songwriters, poets, designers… They also know that in order to produce the gems, they need to keep on churning out the other stuff.
5 Start and then come back to edit it later
Write, have a break, read it again, edit it, have another break, then read it again before you say it’s finished. If it’s something important like a leaflet that will represent your company for the next 12-18 months, get someone else to read it before you send it to the printers. If it’s something really important like a bid for funding, then get as many other sensible people to read it through as you can!
6 Delegate if you really hate it!
Obviously, I would say that, being a writer-for-hire, but it’s good sense, really. If writing makes you come out in hives, or you’re dyslexic, or English isn’t your first language and you struggle to sound natural in it, or you simply don’t have time to do yourself justice on paper, give it to someone else. If you delegate or outsource your product photography because you’re not that handy with a camera, or your accounts because it’s just too complicated, then why not hand the writing over?
For more about what to look for in a blog, and how to go about getting someone else to blog for you, see my next blog. I’ve also written about why your business needs a blog, and writing for your audience, which is always worth thinking about.
So, there you go – 6 top tips for writing.
Now you just need to go away and do it, remembering that it gets easier with practice. Honestly…