I hear it all the time-business owners complaining that they don't have the time to write, hate to write, or are just overwhelmed at the thought of sitting down to figure out what they want to say. But it doesn't have to be that hard or time-consuming.
To me, a big part of the problem seems to be the way we were taught to write. “Make an outline first, " English teachers always said. But few of us are such organized, linear thinkers.
And fussing with outline formatting is a pain.
The key is to making writing easier is to find a more flexible way of organizing your thoughts. A way to jot down ideas in whatever order they come to you, in whatever amount of time you have on hand. Then sort and rearrange them until the order makes sense.
Here are four more ways to make writing faster and easier:
Index cards. My personal favorite-jot down one idea per card and soon you've got a stack you can sort into piles to see exactly what you've got and what you may still need. Now, just talk yourself into typing up what's on the index cards. In just a few minutes, you'll find the words to round out your thoughts come a lot easier and you're on your way to finishing a first draft.
Paper strips. If you're collecting ideas from other sources, another option is to paste them all into one document. If you can organize by topic as you go, terrific. Or, once you're done collecting, print the document and cut each item/idea into one strip of paper.
Like the index cards, you then sort the strips into topic piles. Now it's easier to cut-and-paste the items in order and voila-you have a first draft to edit.
Mindmaps can be another way to jot down and arrange ideas. It works best if you know your topic areas ahead of time, so you know where on the map each item should go. And since space is limited, this is better suited to something you can write from memory instead of relying on a lot of research references.
Once your map is done, just start typing your notes into a document.
Recording. If you really hate typing-or want to ensure your writing sounds more conversational than formal-another alternative is to speak your ideas into a digital recorder, no-cost teleseminar line that records, or voice recognition software. The first two you obviously have to transcribe or have transcribed before you cut the elements into paper strips for sorting.
The voice recognition software is “transcribed" as you go, giving you a first draft to start from.
These four ways not only make it easier to organize your thoughts-they also eliminate the dreaded blank-page-staring-back-at-you syndrome that usually causes writer's block. So next time you're dragging your feet on a writing project, give one a try.
Tracy Needham, founder of Compelling Communications, LLC, helps small business owners boost their business through compelling copy and marketing strategies that make the most of their time and money. Sign up for her FREE Special Report: The One Press Release You Can Write to Get Thousands of Dollars Worth of Free Publicity at http://www.compellingezine.com (c) 2008 Tracy Needham