Writing requires immense self-discipline and focus, for writing commercial copy, corporate communications or the next great American novel. This is what makes writing simultaneously disheartening and exhilarating.
Many writers – myself included – find the actual writing, as in the act of typing. the. words. to be the most difficult part of the process. I spend lots of time researching, outlining, writing “inspiration” words to guide my style and reading how other writers have tackled a similar task.
But I have to push myself to start the writing. Every time. I don’t know why, but I also know that I’m not alone. Each writer does this a little differently, and it often changes over time. Here’s some of my strategies for writing any project:
Limit “Prep” Time: I always set a timer for myself, usually 2-3 hours each day for a large project, to complete research, background reading and my outlines. A mini time-crunch helps me stay focused and use every minute of the prep time.
Pick up a Pen: I do all my writing on my laptop, but I still need to write lists, write out important words and key sentences.
Stop Thinking: Once it’s time to actually write, I have to turn off my brain and start pounding keys. No reading, no analyzing, just writing.
Once I’ve “pounded it out”, I usually read through it and edit redundancies, grammar and syntax. Then I put it aside and don’t think about this piece of writing for a few hours.
Then I’m off to edit. But that’s an entirely different animal.