You know you need to be writing. You feel guilty that you aren’t putting words on the screen. But you do some research, check social media, organize your schedule, then clean your office. Ah… it’s time for lunch. You call it “writer’s block,” but it’s really just you procrastinating.
Writers regularly ask our Content Journey team for advice on how to write more. The answer is to become a more strategic writer. We’ve outlined how in this post.
Reading other writers’ work can help your writing more than you think. Getting in the habit of reading can help you discover a depth or angle you haven’t considered before. Not only that, experiencing a new writing style might be exactly what you need to spice up your writing. That doesn’t mean you have to emulate another writer’s style, but it does mean that you can expand your mind and try new things. A little expansion and experimentation won’t hurt you. Know your style, but don’t be scared to make it better.
Reading also gives you new interests and ideas. As writers, we get stuck in the “I have writer’s block” mentality far too often. Yes, it may seem that writers have covered every topic on the planet. And maybe they have. But, you haven’t written them with your style, personal experience, and knowledge. It’s ok to revisit topics. Just remember to focus on how you can make your writing different or better.
Keep a Running List of Ideas
Writers seem to fall into one category or the other: too many ideas and not enough time or time to write, and no ideas. One of the ways your writing can become more strategic is to keep a list of ideas. That way, when you sit down to write, you always have something to write about.
There’s something effective about carrying a notebook and writing ideas down on paper. But, if you’re committed to the tech life, at least keep your idea list in a note on your phone.
An extra helpful tip is to jot your ideas down as soon as you have them. You will not remember the idea later. Just take a few seconds to write it down. Then, you can reference your list any time those writing ideas seem miles away.
Create a Schedule
Creating a writing schedule may be the best piece of advice we give you. It’s in your best interest to come up with a writing schedule and respect it. By respecting it, we mean that you schedule your writing time as an appointment with yourself and you do not let anyone else have that time. We also mean that you spend this time writing. Then, when your scheduled writing time arrives, you sit down at your computer and type the words.
This scheduling requires some discipline, of course, but all strategic writers need that. Differentiating writing time from rest time is crucial. When writing is your work, it can feel like the kind of job that you can do from anywhere, at any time. And technically… you can, but that doesn’t mean you should. Your ability to write productively will be much better with some set-aside writing time involving you, your favorite caffeinated beverage, and the assignment to put words on a page.
Now, just because you’ve decided to respect your newfound writing schedule doesn’t mean that everything you write will turn to gold. Write in smaller chunks if that’s what it takes to get out some of your thoughts and ideas. No one’s first pancake is a masterpiece. It’s okay to take things in smaller strides just as long as you’re writing, friend. Perfection is not the goal!
Write First, Edit Later
You will stunt your progress if you write and edit simultaneously. Do not write seven words and delete three. Instead, type out everything first, then go back and remove, add, rearrange, and alter. It’s easy to get caught up in the desire for flawless copy. But there’s no such thing as flawless writing. It’s better to write and publish than to strive for perfection. If this is something you really struggle with, create outlines before you begin writing. Outlines will keep your flow a little more organized and may take away that strong urge to stop and fix every five minutes.
Know Your Audience
Who are you talking to? Who will read what you’re writing? Why do they want or need the information you’re providing? These are questions you answer before you begin writing. Understanding your audience and their needs will help you with content ideas and tone. You’ll begin to feel like you’re writing to and for a friend, which will make the entire process easier.
Turn off the TV, set aside your phone, and create a quiet environment to write in. Limiting distractions in your writing space will improve your writing and your focus. It also will help you write more quickly, which means you can get more writing done.
Know When to Submit
You can stare at your screen for hours, judging every single sentence you’ve written. Or you can pass it off to another set of eyes that could bring a fresh perspective to your work. Send it to your editor! Sometimes you have to stop mulling and just turn it in. The more you tweak, the more damage you could be doing. The best writing is done writing. You can’t help your audience if you never publish.
Process Helps You Become a More Strategic Writer
Becoming a strategic writer isn’t something that happens overnight. Chances are you’ll have to experiment before you figure out what works best for you. Allow yourself to try new things and step out of your comfort zone. Taking an educated risk might be the strategy you’re lacking. Not keeping a running list of ideas might be what you’re lacking. Not knowing your target audience might be what you’re lacking.
Whatever it is that’s keeping you from writing productively, start experimenting and building your writing strategy now. We have a feeling some old, bad writing habits are about to die hard if you do. If you still have concerns about writing strategically, you can always contact us. We’d be happy to help.