Stop Writing the Hard Way: A Step-by-step Solution
“I have carried the notes for this document around for eight months without being able to write it,” a participant in a recent business writing workshop told the facilitator. “Sometimes I’d change the color of the folder, just to see if that would spur my creativity. Nothing helped.”
Waiting for inspiration to strike is a frustrating way to approach a document.
But something had changed in that workshop. This participant was so thrilled, she was shouting.
“But now,” she went on, “in this workshop, it’s done. It’s done!”
What made the difference?
A simple approach that allowed her to marshal her thoughts, channel her creativity, polish her draft, and detour around all that frustration.
From frustration to “It’s done!”
The next time you find yourself struggling to write a document, don’t carry a folder full of notes around for months on end. Instead, try the steps she used, and get it done:
Plan. As you begin to write, you may be asking yourself, “What do I want to say?” That’s the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself, “What does my reader need to know?” That question changes everything. Brainstorm content, and then organize it into groups under headlines. This is just your plan, so don’t start writing sentences yet! You need to get your ideas in one place before you draft.
Draft. Don’t edit as you go. Just write.
Edit. Now that you’ve made all of these other decisions, you can edit just once, not endlessly.
We can be stunningly devoted to writing the hard way
Staring down a blank screen and telling yourself you’re going to write the whole thing in order is the hardest way to build a convincing document. But many people think it’s the only way. No wonder they carry around note-filled folders or sit in dread of writing certain messages.
There is a better way. Break the writing task into logical steps, and you’ll find it’s so much easier that you’ll never want to go back. These three steps are your map. Use them twice and you will know the territory well enough to travel it confidently.
Just imagine how much lighter your load will be once you can put down that folder and say, “It’s done!”