I thought I’d go with a more tactical, ripped from the headlines-style post for you this week, because I’ve had a bunch of clients come to me recently struggling to get things finished.
(OK, so it’s not *the* headlines, but it’s the headlines of my work life. So ripped from *my* headlines. Dun-dun.)
Anyway, these clients start out fine, then get down in the middle of a piece of writing and just kind of founder. They get caught up in research, or details, or just stuck at the end of one paragraph, unable to make the jump to the next.
Sound familiar? Here’s three fixes:
Stop trying to contingency-plan eternity.
OK, so you’ve got a blog post, or podcast script, or video notes or whatever to write. Great! But … what about the social media for it? What if you don’t get that right, will people even read it? What about if someone says something about that one thing in paragraph two? What if you forget about XYZ crucial thing to include, and it derails the conversation of your business forever, and … and … and …
Stop trying to contingency-plan eternity. It can’t be done. You can’t know every single possible outcome of whatever it is you’re doing, and you can’t preemptively plan to address them. Trying to do what will drive you crazy.
Write the thing.
It’s going to be fine. And, if it’s not, you’re not tattooing it on the face of the Internet. You can fix it.
When you’re drafting, all you have to do is write.
Do the ALL CAPS trick.
I’ve had a couple people tell me that they envision me writing basically “end product” level stuff right out the gate. While that occasionally happens, usually it looks a whole hell of a lot more like this:
Notice all those ALL CAPS? That’s for stuff I know I want to revisit, or just don’t know the details of yet. Instead of stopping to research it, or really think it out (and derailing the flow I’ve got already going for the rest of the piece), I just write whatever it is in all caps. That way I know I won’t miss it when I go back for a second draft, and I can keep going knowing that I’ve kinda sorta got something there, but don’t have to get bogged down in the details just yet.
Wiggle your pencil.
I read this on someone’s Tumblr (I think??) but it was a recap of some advice an English teacher gave them in highschool. It went along the lines of, all you need to do when you’re writing is wiggle your pencil. If the eraser end of your pencil is moving, you’re doing it right, even if all you’re writing is “Stuff things blah blah blah fjdakfdjlkafkdlsa this is so useless I am the worst.”
The same holds true when you’re typing. You can’t edit a blank page. You can edit a page of total trash. And, if you just keep at it and push through what John Cleese calls the creative uncomfortability, you will finish your work. Promise.
And that’s it. Now go finish something.