writingLots 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.

Writing ideas

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 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:

Audio

  • 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.

Visual
Make a mind map. Take a large sheet of paper, and draw your theme. Stick it up on your wall.

Timing
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.

Editing

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.

If you have other techniques that have worked for you, please leave a comment.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

© Gaye Wilson 2009
I’ve just discovered a really wonderful online tool if you’re a writer who gets easily distracted. I found it through Ankesh Kothari’s blog: http://www.blogclout.com/blog/cool-tool-writing-without-distraction/ .

The tool is called Writer. When you enter the site, you are faced with a black page with green writing. You simply start to type, and you will see your words appear on the screen, just as if you were in a word processing document.

Ankesh’s suggestion of using it as your home page is an interesting one. If you do that, he suggests that you will then get the impetus to actually write something. He might be right. When I went there, it was impossible not to try it out.

This page allows you to start and save as many documents as you like. It will also print your writing, or send it to you by email. It was actually quite fun to play around with it.

It has a pdf button, which didn’t work when I tried it. It also has a Download button (I didn’t try that one), and a Send button, where you have a choice of sending it as an email, or to a blog or other places.

How can the use of this online tool help you?

  • If you use it as your home page, you will always get the reminder to write.
  • You can use it to jot down notes while you’re online, without having to open your text editor.
  • You can make to do lists, and email them to yourself.
  • You can write a book, or an article, or notes to yourself.
  • You can copy and paste interesting URLs.

You can change some options, such as the colour of the writing, the font type, and the spacing. You can create an account, although you don’t have to. You can delete your writing. You can even get a word count. 

It also seems to remember you when you close the page and come back in again.

Use is free, but there is a donation button at the bottom of the screen. I think it would be well worth a donation if you find it useful. 

As with all online tools, there may be privacy issues. Read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to decide whether it is for you.

As a fun way of getting yourself writing, I think this is a good one. If you are having trouble getting to writing, it might be worth checking it out. Here it is again:

 Writer at http://writer.bighugelabs.com/.