For the love of words…once you start writing that is

There’s busy. And then there’s my life for the past two weeks. I know that’s a weak excuse for being behind on this “weekly” blog. On the plus side, the insane work load I’ve been managing lately got me thinking about why I do what I do. Or, for that matter, why anyone would do this.

In short, it can only be for the love of noodling around with words. You have to find some joy in finding a new way of saying something. Otherwise, you certainly would not stay up way past your bedtime still tapping on the old keyboard, trying to fix your lead.

For me the hardest part of writing anything is getting started. Once I do, I’m totally hooked. Take this blog. I knew I should be writing something for it, but I had so many other things to do, it was too easy to put it off. Once I started though…

So the key to getting some writing done–at least for me–is starting. So, I’ve perfected a few tricks to force the issue:

  • If you interviewed a few people, starting pulling out all the best quotes—the ones you knew you’d use the minute you heard them. Once you see a few of those pulsing on the screen, how can you resist getting underway? If for no other reason than to share those perfect comments.
  • For a dryer piece, just put down some key facts you know will have to be in there. They’ll either sound so boring you can’t resist spicing it up, or one or two of the facts will pique your interest.
  • Type or retype your notes. It forces you to start thinking about it. You’ll end up editing and reorganizing the notes and soon you’ll be writing the piece outright.
  • Take the Swiss cheese approach. Tell yourself you’ll just write one paragraph you might be able to use. Come back to it and write just one or two more paragraphs; and etc. Until you’ve carved out enough holes either to get it done or to get it to the point where you no longer need a mental trick to polish the rest off.
  • Write an outline or just a list of what you’ll need to include. It doesn’t feel like writing so you can kid yourself. Once you’ve got the framework, the whole task won’t seem so heavy.
  • Write the end first. If you know where you want to end up, it is easier to start the journey.
  • If you are truly stuck, do a quick Google search on the topic you are writing about. Either you’ll find something great that inspires you, or you’ll see that everything out there is so dismal that you’ll want to contribute something more meaningful.

Spending time on your writing is certainly a good thing. Taking a thoughtful approach takes time. Deciding on the best way to order things takes time. Editing.  Takes even more time. That would be hell, if it weren’t so inexplicably enjoyable.

A cautionary word is in order. I’ve learned (yeah, the hard way) that a love of words can also get in your way. You can get too close to things.

Go over what you’ve written a few dozen too many times, and not only won’t you see the forest for the trees, you likely are blissfully staring up at the sky, having not even noticed there are trees! That is, until you smack into one.

That’s where other editors come in…but that’s a whole new subject.

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