Who hasn’t experienced getting stuck when sitting down to write? Sometimes we have a vague notion of where we want to end up, but the words refuse to come; other times we sit staring at a blank screen with no idea of where to begin. And then there’s the writing fail, when we finish a work only to realize we are miles off the mark.
All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. ― Ernest Hemingway
Here are a few simple tricks to keep you writing with ease.
Write on Purpose
Get off to a good start by charting your destination – where you want to end. Briefly outline your main points, as well as the action you want the reader to take at the conclusion. This outline is to get you started, and get you moving again when you are blocked. It should be used loosely, however, and should never get in the way of adding something of value or even refocusing mid-stream.
I seldom jot down just a topic for a blog post anymore, preferring to note my main points and destination while the idea is fresh.
Write to a Persona
This is so helpful when writing for a business. I keep a printout of each persona within view as I’m writing and I often focus on (or him) while composing my thoughts. Your finished piece will be more targeted and spot-on if you really focus on what your one dream customer needs to know.
Stand Up and Speak Your Piece
How often do you find yourself rooting around in the depths of your brain for a specific word or phrase that just won’t come to you? It happens to me all the time, and when it does, I stand up and look at the picture of my target persona while reading aloud what I’ve already written. I’m usually able to get back in to the flow while I speak. Then I sit down and type like crazy. Then I stand up and repeat. It’s amazing how the words and ideas flow more easily when we are speaking.
Write to Edit
Some writers mull over thoughts in their head, stringing together the perfect phrase before committing it to their screen. However, If you have trouble getting beyond the introduction, you might try my process — I write to edit. I write stream-of-consciousness style (yes, talking to myself the whole time), and then go back over what I’ve written and save only the gold nuggets. Once you have exhausted your muse, you can review for clarity, consistency, accuracy and flow.
Then Edit, Edit, Edit
The more words you use to describe something, the more likely you are to lose your reader. That was never more true than today with our browse-and-click culture.
Mark Twain said “strike out every other word, even if it breaks your heart.” It may be a bit extreme, but then again I’ve already edited out over half this blog post. Aren’t you grateful?
I hope these simple tricks on writing with ease have been of help. For more tips on writing well, here’s a post on Copyblogger about Hemingway’s tips for writing well.
Leave a comment below if you have tips to add or thoughts to share.