These Methods Helped Me Stop Struggling With Writing
Published: September 17, 2015
Category: Tips and Ideas
Translating what you want to say into words on a page (writing them down or typing them out) is often not a natural experience for people. If you count yourself among this group, fear not. There are some easy options to help. With a little practice, you can take writing from fear to fun pretty quickly.
"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." - Margaret Atwood
Few of us write for a living, and an even bigger percentage really haven't done much writing since our school days. It can seem like unfamiliar territory and the brain-finger connections can feel rusty.
If it is not a familiar task, it can be daunting to think about what to say (Is it important enough? Is it meaningful enough?), and then give it structure so it accurately conveys the message and how we feel. Not to mention challenges around typing skills, grammar and spelling issues. Trying to get it “perfect”, that great idea with just the right words, can be stressful.
And, really, using perfection as a standard is often the enemy. It holds us back from getting started and makes us doubt ourselves both in writing, and in life - if we want to get a little philosophical.
Some people seem to have it easy and the words just flow and it all comes together. I envy them. For the rest of us, paralysis by analysis can be a problem. Staring at a computer screen with a blinking cursor trying to think about what to write can be intimidating, but there are some simple approaches that will help.
Strategies to get the words from your brain to the page.
So, to take the pressure off, let's assume that perfection doesn’t matter much particularly when it comes to messages to loved ones. It’s the emotion and meaning of what you are writing that is the important thing. Anybody that cares will be thrilled to have something from you specifically for them. They are not going to be looking at grammar and sentence structure. This is not a school essay.
The worst possible result is getting discouraged and not writing anything at all. Here are six strategies that will ensure that you don’t get stuck and can communicate your thoughts, stories, life lessons and ideas with ease.
If you write for a living, then the ideas below are probably well known to you. Or, perhaps there are some reminders in there that will help. I would be very interested to know.
1. Keep track of your ideas
Maybe it’s a little notebook like Richard Branson uses. Maybe it’s a list on your phone or an app like Evernote. I use Evernote and it's a great organizing tool. Or, you can just login to your thoseilove.com account and quickly jot them down to look at later. I don’t know about you, but I often think of great things to say or do. But if I don’t write them down - poof. They are gone. Maybe it is the same for you?
2. Write down your headings
If you are writing a longer piece, break it down into manageable pieces and write down headings to help organize your structure, thoughts and ideas. Then fill in under each heading.
Get all the headings down first. Otherwise, you are going to interrupt the idea process and switch your brain to executing on the ideas.
3. Don’t stop to do edits
If you stop to fix details while you are in the “get it down on paper” stage, then there is a good chance that the creative process will grind to a halt. If you like to “keep it tidy” as you write, then you might want to resist the urge to fix that typo or paragraph.
Otherwise, you are trying to flip back and forth between the creative side and the organizing side of your brain. It really interrupts the flow. Here is a good discussion on writing flow.
4. Give yourself a time limit
Set a relatively short time frame to get as much done as you can. Eliminate distractions from TV, email, texts, and people and go at it with focus. I find 20 minutes seems to work well, but you might be different.
5. Just keep writing
Even if you think it is not going well just keep going. It can always be polished up later. Even if it seems like complete garbage while you are writing it, sometimes a gem will appear. Dig out the the gem later. Polish the gem.
6. Take a break
Have you ever had your brain just lock up? No matter how hard you try nothing comes out. Probably time to push back from the laptop or put the tablet down. The experience should be fun and enriching, not feel like an exam.
We hope these ideas help you with capturing and recording your ideas, thoughts, life lessons and memories.
And remember to heed Margaret Atwood’s warning.
If you have a trick or a tip for writing, it would be great if you would leave a comment. Extra points for bad grammar and spelling :)