Why Do We Make Writing Harder Than It Needs to Be?
It’s amazing how often we undercut our own progress, cause a power failure, make things hard on ourselves. We set up roadblocks and wonder why the path is hard to travel. We take the long way home, because we fear the easy way. We shoot ourselves in the foot, and we don’t know that we’re doing it.
In training writers, I’ve seen people talk themselves out of writing in so many ways. Most are easy to stop if you know that you’re doing them. If you think you might be making things harder than they need to be. Hang on. I’ve got the list for you.
10 Sure-Fire Ways to Stop Making Writing So Hard
Writing will never be easy. That’s a fact. But hey, we don’t have to make it harder. Take look down this list and see whether you find yourself here. If you do, you might be able to make it less hard by changing how you approach your writing. Do you . . .
1. Do you keep starting and stopping? It’s because you don’t know what you want to say. At some point, before you start writing, ask yourself, What is it I want readers to know?
2. Do you think too much before you write? Is your head too full of information? Try reading less, taking notes, and taking a break after you read. Give the information time to sort and settle. Taking in large amounts of information is stressful, writing needs relaxation and deep thinking. Give yourself room for a brief transition.
3. Are you overly competitive? Do you find yourself thinking that everyone took all of the good ideas? Stop reading the other guys or read them at a greater distance from when you write. They’ll have less power the further away you can put them. Remember they are reading you and thinking the same thing.
4. Are you a perfectionist? There’s no such thing as perfect, but there is better than the last. We can only do what is humanly possible. When you start feeling like you need to beat the rest of us humans at everything, it’s okay to tell yourself you don’t have superpowers.
5. Do you scrap every original idea that you have? Turn off your internal editor. Tell your editor the on switch will be engaged when you edit. Then find ideas, twist them and turn them into something you like. Write until you have something you can organize before you invite your editor back.
6. Do you try to write for traffic, instead of readers? Traffic surges are unpredictable. Write what you know and feed your readers. Your core audience will stay with you and encourage their friends to join them. Traffic is fickle and often just looks and leaves.
7. Do you get stuck between great headlines and great articles? If you write a great title, keep the promise it makes. Give up the headline, and go with a great article if you can’t.
8. Is your best style stream of consciousness and you just know it shouldn’t be? You can write stream of consciousness if you make it vivid and engaging. Crawl into that stream and describe in such a way that your readers feel wet.
9. Do you write 8-mile sentences and don’t know what to do? Read your post aloud. Break them apart at the places where you need to stop to breathe. Your readers will stay with you longer.
10. Do you think writing is an individual endeavor? Writing is for, inspired by, or about other people. Half of being a writer is observing and listening to the people around us. That’s how we get better, that’s how we learn and refine the art and craft.
PLUS ONE: Forget the screen and the lurkers. Write to an audience of one. Imagine that audience is someone intelligent who shares your passion for what you are writing about, but doesn’t know the subject as well as you do.
Writing will never be easy, but it doesn’t have to be overly hard. I still love the quote that can’t be attributed.
I hate writing. I love having written.
What do you do to make writing harder than it needs to be?
–ME “Liz” Strauss