So now, you’re faced with a blank page. It should be less intimidating if you’ve read the previous post; you at least have some sort of plan of action. But it probably doesn’t feel any easier as you are confronted by that glaring white page.
But before you tackle writing that first sentence, make sure you’re settled in.
This is critical. When you sit down to write, you must attempt to do so in an environment that you are most comfortable in. For a lot of people, myself included, this is not always in the workplace.
But I make do. For me, the sound of anyone else even quietly working is a distraction, but music is not. I have learned which types of music (usually progressive rock) help me work —and it’s not necessarily my favorite music.
Music drowns out the conversations of my office mates, which is synonymous with quiet for me. This may be harder for people who are distracted by music. They may need to find a different spot to work in or play something that just projects white noise, like radio shows or podcasts.
I need to feel I’m alone even if I’m in a room full of people. But there are people who thrive in coffee shop setting, which are bustling and full of noise. Whatever works, just try to make your environment as conducive to writing as possible.
There are times that I can whip out large chunks of a blog post in between my normal copy duties. But it isn’t easy to work when your computer is incessantly pinging you with two or three different things that require your attention.
It was for this reason that I asked my supervisors (creative and marketing) if it was possible for me to have a couple hours to not work on copy and instead focus on my blog posts. They agreed to this, which instantly improved the quality and efficiency of my work.
There is quite a bit of evidence for uninterrupted work time if you’re trying to convince your supervisors to give you some focused work time and is something to consider for those who are required to write posts as part of their job. It is impossible to keep a coherent and strong train of thought in the midst of constant distraction.
Two hours of time three days a week allows me to create stronger pieces than the ones that are created in longer amounts of time but with scattered focus.
During those two hours, I often mute our internal message services, blast music and just write.
Getting Started (By Skipping the Start)
When I begin writing an article, even if I know sort of how I want to start it, I often put off writing that opening sentence/paragraph.
Because sometimes I’m not sure exactly how to begin/word/connect those opening lines with all of the ideas that I need to discuss in my article.
Usually, I already have an idea about how to write another part of the article. I’ve learned that not writing something down soon immediately is the best way to lose great ideas. So unless you already have a great, catchy opener to hook your readers into your post, then skip it and work on the middle.
Hit the Highlights
That’s where this point comes in. Now you take the notes you wrote down in the planning stage and write them out as headers for the topics in your piece.
Now, as you write, it’s sort of like fill in the blanks. You have to write something under each category. I then follow the train of thought until I reach a convenient transition point allowing each point to flow to the next.
Get the Word(s) Out
I used to struggle to write anything quickly because I would get hung up on the details. I would start to type, then delete what I had written, because it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to say.
And then I realized it was fine as long as I got the point across. If each sentence contributes to the point I am describing or trying to make, then it is worthwhile. Regardless of how awkward something may sound; I at least have a vague idea of how I want it to sound written down. This keeps me from getting too hung up on a single sentence, an issue that lengthens the writing process considerably.
After all, that first copy does not need to be perfect, just passable. It should accomplish the goal you had for it, even if it is sloppy.
That’s why we edit and revise, which is the fourth and final part of this series.
Share with us! Do you have any writing tips that you think we should add? Let us know in the comments!