Books, magazine articles even blogs have the power to transport readers through words alone. Amazing right? Have you ever been inspired to write something of your own but get stuck after the first few sentences? You go over your words a few times tweaking things here and there. You want everything you write to be perfect before you move on. So you don’t move on.
Our internal insta-editors can hinder any form of writing – emails, case notes, reports included. How can you get work done efficiently if you’re waiting for perfection? The following steps are suggestions on how to override your insta-editor until the timing is right.
Move Through the First Draft on a Path
I’ve started a new piece of writing only to get stuck polishing the first paragraph over and over because I didn’t know where the rest of the story was going.
I got ahead of myself, skipping the planning phase. Set up your writing path by “brainstorming” or thinking about your idea, finding the focus of what you’re going to write about, then break that down into points that you will turn into paragraphs or sections.
If you know where your writing is going, you’ll be less likely to get stuck perfecting the first few sentences.
I understand the desire to send out perfect writing. I want that too, but it won’t happen if you’re holding up the process re-working the first few sentences. What is perfection anyway when it comes to writing? An email – for instance – doesn’t need to be poetic.
Clarity: Can your readers understand what you’re trying to say? Because this is the point of written communication, yes?
Concise: Keep focused on an argument or main point. Stick to the reason you started writing in the first place.
Entertainment Value: This is optional, especially for an email, but if you have an interesting take on your topic readers will appreciate it and read to the end.
“E” is for Editing at the End
Lastly, editing does have its place in the writing process and that is at the end. There can be different “end points” like the end of a section, the end of a page or once all of the initial writing is done. Make the conscious decision to edit only when you get to the end point of your choice.
When you edit at the right point, you’ll feel encouraged by the progress you’ve made and how your words are shaping up.