If you are about to embark on a writing project and have decided to tackle the text yourself, here are a few tips to get yourself going and avoid stalls. These are simple strategies I use myself, and I’ve found they help keep me on track and moving forward.
1. Before you begin, make sure you know the bottom-line message you ultimately want to communicate. List out the key points that you need to cover and keep them in front of you as you write. This will help to your writing stay focused and purposeful.
2. Every sentence on the page should provide a piece of information or insight that is directly linked to one of your key points; if not, toss it out. Keep your message clear and tight by avoiding sentences that repeat something you’ve already said, even if you’ve used different words.
3. Focus on your audience. I find it helps to visualize a member of your target audience and imagine yourself speaking to them. This is the person you are hoping to influence through your communication. What do you want that person to know? What information do they need? What will motivate them to take the next step that you want them to take?
3. Create a separate “bits and pieces” document that you can use to collect sentences, phrases or words that you like but can’t fit into your text. It’s difficult to let go of a sentence that you are particularly fond of, so rather than struggling over where to use it, put it to the side and move on knowing you can consider it later.
4. Keep a thesaurus handy. If you are having a hard time finding the right words to communicate your message, look up some of your key words in the thesaurus. It can trigger new ideas for your text by showing you alternate wording options.
5. Write in shorter bursts rather than long hauls. We all have a saturation point – this is the moment when you can no longer objectively “see” your work anymore. Your arsenal of ideas is empty and your mind begins to drift. Force yourself to take a break before you reach this point. You and your writing will benefit from stepping away from the project for a little while.
6. Get some fresh air. If you are feeling stagnant and the words just aren’t coming, get yourself outside. Go for a walk, take a short bike ride, or even just sit in the open air for a few minutes. I generate my best ideas and creative thoughts when I am walking the dog or going for a run. If you can, carry your phone so you can jot down strokes of brilliance while on the go. You’ll be amazed at the creative sparks that fly when you’re away from your desk!
Good luck and happy writing!