Writing by Peter Hilton

Reserve weekly time for writing

Keep writing, even when you don’t know what to say 2022-07-12 #writing

Ayla Verschueren

  1. Get yourself a notebook
  2. Collect writing ideas
  3. Test ideas in conversation
  4. Reserve weekly time for writing ←
  5. Write to a shorter word limit

If you want to write and publish articles regularly, then you have to spend time on it regularly too. You won’t find this easy to arrange if you also work a full time job, or have other commitments, but reserving even a couple of hours per week can help. And if you only have a couple of hours per week, you’ll want to make them count rather than spending the time staring at a blank page or, more likely, social media.

Use your reserved time

Ideally, you would always write in the flow state where words arrive easily and writing feels effortless. Unfortunately, while that may happen from time to time, relying on easy writing causes missed deadlines or blog abandonment. To publish regularly, write regularly, even when it doesn’t come easily.

This doesn’t mean that you have to struggle for every word, though. You might manage to prompt that elusive flow state with some warm-up routines. Either way, focus on making some kind of progress whenever you have time to write.

Edit what you wrote before

Stop starting, and start finishing. When previous writing sessions resulted in any significant amount of text, you’ll need to edit and improve it before you can publish it. Use time when you don’t know what to write to catch up on editing, and maybe finish a draft.

While editing an incomplete draft, you may have new ideas and switch from editing back to writing. This works because editing requires concentration, rather than the creativity you need to write new text. And that concentration might help you focus, and block out the distractions inhibit flow state.

Build on what you have

If you don’t have anything left to edit, move on to writing something new. This won’t always mean writing new paragraphs and sections; sometimes you make progress by adding single sentences.

Collecting writing ideas gives you a collection of titles for pieces you might write, scattered notes, and incomplete thoughts. Read through these notes, and look for where you can add a sentence. This might summarise an idea, make a statement, or draw a comparison. Add a sentence to clarify or restate a point, to link two paragraphs or sections together, or to add examples.

Develop outlines

If more ideas come to mind while you add sentences, keep writing without worrying about structure or editing. You can do that next time. And when fleshing out your existing outlines and notes stops working, you can always add more of those: try adding a title for what you just wrote. This will make it easier to return to, and edit to link it to other sections.

Change direction. When you’ve exhausted writing bottom-up writing, switch to top-down, and add an outline to an existing title or article idea. For example, list three to five statements you want to make, topics you want to cover, or examples of an idea. You can repeat this, adding an outline to each subheading, or switch back to building on what you now have.

Beat the blank page

If you collecting writing ideas and regularly develop them, you may never have to start from a blank page. Then you’ll have beaten the blank page.

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