Having trouble writing?
This is the text of a message I sent to a member of PhinisheD who was having trouble writing and revising. I have used all of these techniques with my coaching clients, and they work.
Lots of people have to write for their work or study. Lots of people also have trouble writing. Here are some ideas that my coaching clients have used successfully to get themselves writing consistently.
When you don’t know what you want to say, make an outline.
- Write, in point form, the main ideas you want to talk about.
- Flesh out each point.
- Use a sticky notes or note taking program such as Turbo Note or Jot Plus, or a mind map program, or even index cards, to write out your points, and then move them around so that the argument makes sense.
- Take one point and write as much as you can about it, then take a break, and pick another point and do the same.
When nothing is coming - i.e. you forget what you want to say, you can’t think of anything to say, the blank screen mirrors your blank mind - there are several things you can do:
- Talk to a friend. Record what you say. Get the friend to ask questions that will elicit more information.
- Get an audio recorder and talk about your topic. Then make a transcript, and use that as your first draft.
Make a mind map. Take a large sheet of paper, and draw your theme. Stick it up on your wall.
Commit to a ridiculously small amount of time per day, yes, per day, to write. Say eight minutes. Commit to writing eight minutes each day. The eight minutes can be spread out over the day, but you must write for eight minutes (or whatever time you pick). When you have done it, you then have a choice: to either keep going, or knock off for the day.
This technique sounds silly, but it works. My clients often have trouble even committing to eight minutes a day, but within a week they find that they are writing for far more than eight minutes.
Figure out the best time of the day for your writing. We all have different rhythms. Some people write best at 5am. Some people write best at 3pm. Experiment with the times you attempt to write. You will probably find that one time of the day is better for your creative flow than others. I have found that I write better blog posts early in the morning, and they flow easier than if I try to write them after lunch.
When you are editing something you have already written, try some of these:
- Read it out loud. If it doesn’t flow, your ears will hear it.
- Take it one sentence at a time.
- Check that the first sentence of each paragraph actually talks about what the paragraph is about.
- Ask yourself if each paragraph flows from the one before it.
Concentrate on one thing to edit at a time, e.g.
- Are all the tenses in the paragraph the same?
- Do you have periods at the end of each sentence?
- Does each sentence make sense and flow on from the previous one?
- Is there a better word that you could use?
If you’re having trouble writing or editing your work, email me.
Copyright © Gaye Wilson 2009. All rights reserved.