Writing made easier in 3 steps

Writing seemed to be the undoing of my fellow writer. I could hear the mental anguish coming from the other side of the cubicle partition.

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My friend with years of experience was on deadline and it was obviously painful. I slipped from my chair to offer a word of encouragement, but as I poked my head around the corner, I was shocked to see the hair on my always immaculately groomed friend standing on end. She’d been driving her fingers through her hair fighting for every sentence.

I decided not to say anything. I quietly watched her write; and it was excruciating, like having a root canal…with no anesthesia. I decided then that if writing became that difficult I’d take up something less stressful, like maybe testing warheads with a hammer at a missile factory.

Writing comes easy for some people but is more difficult for others. It doesn’t necessarily mean those for whom it comes easy write well and those for whom it is difficult write poorly. There are multiple routes to writing a well-crafted story. Arriving at the right destination is more important than road traveled.

If you’re looking for a route to a good story, here are three suggested tips to get you there. These work for the most seasoned veteran or the beginner and are good for everything from writing a seventh grade research paper to writing a speech for the CEO of a major corporation (I know because this has been my preferred route for each of these and thousands of other documents).

1. Begin with good content.

There is a lot assumed in this statement, like time spent gathering good content though research or interviews. No story, speech, thesis, dissertation or book is any better than the information used to comprise it. Simply stated: crappy content equals crappy story…period.

2. Decide on a destination.

All content needs to end somewhere. Where?  What is it you intend to leave “with the crowd?” What do people need to know or do when the end arrives? Speeches, stories, white papers, dissertations – whatever – are exactly like a journey. You wouldn’t just take off in your car and meander endlessly across the country if what you really want to do is go to a specific beach. Pick your destination and drive your content there.

3. Outline.

Okay, maybe this one isn’t for everyone. I’ve had a long-running disagreement with a good friend who is an exceptional writer. He doesn’t outline; I do. I don’t believe outlines need to be intensive structures that pay homage to your high school English teacher. Outlines can be as simple as scratching on a napkin a logical flow from the beginning of your story to the destination – basically, the map to the beach. I do believe the better the outline the quicker the writing. I’ve been doing this for years and I’ve seen that if I spend 15 minutes outlining I always arrive at my intended location efficiently. I’ve consistently gotten feedback from editors about how clean my copy is and how my stories flow well from beginning to end. Shhhhh, they think I’m brilliant. Don’t tell them I outline.

Don’t pull your hair out writing when anxiety free writing is just three simple steps away! Spend a few minutes organizing good content and your hair follicles will thank you for it.

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