Whether you find yourself grappling with a wicked case of writer’s block or are just wildly unhappy with what’s coming out of your keyboard, there are tried and true methods that will help you get that piece of writing out of your head and onto the page. Here are my three favorites:
1. Do a “vomit draft”
99 times out of 100, what gets me stuck are visions of a perfect final draft dancing in my head as I sit down to the keyboard. While writing a lot makes it easier to get to that draft faster, no one gets it in one shot (and if you do, email me immediately: I want you on emergency speed-dial). Give yourself permission to write one horrid version of the email/proposal/what-have-you. Then give yourself a break–the longer the better, but at least a cup of coffee or walk’s worth–before tackling Draft #2.
2. Write it for a five-year-old or the clean-up crew
In other words (haha), step out of your own fancy way and explain what you mean in terms so simple that a child (or a random adult with no knowledge of your field) could understand. Alternatively, spew all of your ideas as bullet points on a page without regard to how they line up. You’ll have to move stuff around later, but at least you’ll have stuff.
3. If all else fails, talk it
Some people are great in the room and not so hot at the computer. If that’s you, save yourself some anguish and talk your piece into voice mail or a digital capture device. Yes, you’ll have to go back and transcribe, but better that than banging your head against your MacBook for a morning.
Getting stuck is an inevitable part of the act of creation at times, and writing is no different. But slowing down, taking a breath and applying one of the above tools can go a long way towards unsticking you, and making your writing stronger, to boot.
Colleen Wainwright is a writer/speaker/consultant who helps other creative types figure out what they want to say and learn to say it more effectively.
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