Do you get stressed just thinking about writing, or do you find it terribly tedious? Maybe writing is a large part of your job, or perhaps the only time you need to write anything out is when emailing a client or colleague. Regardless, if you often find yourself staring at a blank document, here are some tips. Practice incorporating these strategies to get your ideas flowing and ease some of the stress you feel. Who knows? You might even end up enjoying writing instead of dreading it.
If you have no idea where to start, do some research. The internet is full of examples of nearly every type of writing. Pick a topic you enjoy, and read through well-written pieces for inspiration. If you need to write about a specific topic, look up other articles about similar topics for ideas and information. Make sure you’re looking at reliable, legitimate sources. Sometimes simply reading through fun or eloquent articles can help put you in the writing mood!
Develop an outline.
Instead of putting all the pressure on yourself to drum up a first draft out of nowhere, develop an outline first. There are various ways to create outlines, so choose a method that works well for you. It doesn't have to be formal; you might make a simple list of main ideas you need to cover, or you might want to go more in depth, including headings, subheadings, and notes. It depends on what you’re writing. For example, if you’re writing an email, you could simply begin your draft with a list of things you’d like to cover to make sure you don't miss anything important. For an in-depth article, however, it's often helpful to create a more detailed outline before you begin to write. (Click here to see our handy infographic on how to structure an article.)
Smooth it out later.
Don’t try to make your first draft perfect. Just start writing, and focus on getting your main ideas down with details to support them. It doesn’t have to be pretty at this point. You’ll smooth it out later. Remember, no one but you needs to see your first draft, so don’t censor yourself. Once your first draft is complete, you can either review it right away or take a break from it and return later. Chances are, when going through your draft a second time, you'll like at least some of what you wrote. You can fix what you don’t like and work on improving the structure and flow until you're happy with the piece and ready to send it off.
Turn on background music.
For some, music can be more of a distraction than help. For others, turning on some background music can help tune out other distractions in the room, such as noisy coworkers, or break the pin-drop silence (which can also feel stressful). Choose a type of music that helps you relax and concentrate. Many writers listen to instrumental music, nature sounds, or movie soundtracks. Typically, music without words or with words that don’t draw your attention is best.
Incorporate your personality.
It takes time for writers to find their voice. Practice adding personality to your pieces. You may need to try a few different writing styles to find what works well for you. Depending on what you’re writing, you may want to try a casual voice, add humor, use storytelling, or write like a journalist concisely stating facts. Adding personality can make your content more interesting and help you connect with your readers.
Content creation isn't an easy task, especially if writing doesn't come naturally to you. We all—even those of us who write every day—have days when we feel like the words just won’t come. If you feel like that’s you every time you sit down to write, try these tips.
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