It doesn’t matter who you are: a business owner, marketing director, or revolutionary leader, you depend on good writing to grow your impact.
And I bet you feel one of two ways about it. You either dread it, but drag yourself to do it anyway. Or, you absolutely hate it and avoid writing at all costs.
I don’t offer the option to “love it” because the only people I’ve met who love writing are writers, and if you’re here—that’s probably not you.
While I can’t promise to turn you into a novelist overnight, I can give you my best tips for skipping the stress that comes from writing anything.
1. Forget everything you’ve learned
I’ll never forget the reaction my first college teacher had to my writing. “This is some medieval shit,” he told me. I looked at him confused, embarrassed, and ashamed. I had told people for years that I would write for a living, and this guy told me I had no idea what I was doing.
So, I asked for his help. How could I get better?
His advice was simple: forget everything you’ve learned and write how you want. And so I did – I stopped writing out five-paragraph essays; I started sentences with but; and I stopped trying to use sophisticated words.
In essence, I approached each writing project as a beginner. Someone who had no training, no background in writing. I just went with my gut and focused on the content.
This strategy is such a relief when it comes to writing. Because instead of focusing on the rules, you pay more attention to the quality of your words.
2. Write as you speak
Separating how you write from how you speak is the biggest obstacle to great writing. Because the reality is they are one and the same – both mediums are paths for communication.
The problem is you may see writing as the medium where you have to be perfect, strategic, and stay inside the lines. But when you approach your work from this lens, it translates into stiff, hard-to-read sentences.
Robotic writing fails to engage readers. Because they want conversational content in a genuine voice. So, make things easier on yourself and start writing as you speak.
Still struggling to put words on the screen? Consider actually saying it out loud first. I know it feels awkward to speak to no one, so grab a friend and explain the topic in person. You can either record the conversation, take notes while you speak, or just refer to the conversation when you start to write.
3. Lose your inhibitions
The most difficult part of writing is starting. Even for me, staring at a blank document gives me anxiety. And if I stare at the blinking cursor long enough, I’ll start doubting myself before I even begin.
My best strategy for getting out of the self-doubt hole? Forget what you’re trying to accomplish and just write. Lose your inhibitions and let your fingers roll across the keyboard.
Because the reality is most of your first draft will be edited, reworked, or completely deleted later. So, why not just let go and reveal the stream of consciousness sitting just below your self-doubt? You may be amazed at the results.
The first draft of anything is shit.
— Ernest Hemingway
4. Proofread and then proof again
Now that you’ve let it all hang out, it’s time to go back and tighten up your piece. I suggest writing the first draft and then taking a break before you proofread the first time.
By giving yourself a little more time to noodle on the work (shoutout to my favorite boss, Jessica Rush, for this term), you can return again with new ideas and fresh takes on what you said.
Then, do another read-through and continue editing if it’s not there yet. But be sure you don’t get stuck here. As soon as it flows and there are no errors, it’s time to publish!
Perfect is the enemy of good.
FYI: You’d probably never send an email if you followed this method. Instead, I still suggest two read-throughs – but you don’t need to give yourself a break in between. Unless you wrote it from an angry place, then you might sleep on it first!
5. Write a little bit every day
Even if you’re not a writer, it’s beneficial to work on your writing every day. And if you can make writing in a Google Doc a part of your routine, you’ll start publishing content like a machine!
For me, I enjoy writing in a journal—either first thing in the morning or before I go to bed. It gives me time to be creative or vent out the yucky feelings I’ve been holding onto.
It also helps improve my writing because I usually flow without a filter. And as a result, I discover new ways to say old things and it builds my confidence as a writer.
Writing well is just like building any muscle
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise: the more you write, the better writer you become. Because it’s just like anything else in life, and what you focus on grows. In the meantime, use these five tips to jumpstart your journey and put out great writing today!
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