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Posts Tagged ‘heuristics’

Strategic-PlanningNothing about writing is harder than starting!  Everything is more important, the time of day is all wrong, the computer just keeps jumping over to Free Cell, and every interruption is welcomed!  And if you don’t write regularly for any reason, starting a writing project is even harder!

Here are some general writing tips to help you get started.

  • Set aside a time that works for you, when you will be uninterrupted for at least an hour.  Even here in my office with fifteen people who could walk in the door at any time, I just announce to them that when my door is closed, please do not disturb me except for something really, really important.  Other people go to Starbucks or another place they can be anonymous. At a time in my life when uninterrupted time was even more rare, I stayed up later than everyone else in the family on nights when I had to write.
  • Start with what you know best.  We were in the middle of work on our financial model at LST, so the very first piece of the outline that I attacked was the part I was working on every day anyway.  I could, for the most part, just write from the information already available to me.  That was Part 1, but Part 5B of the outline was something that we had been working on since February, so it was also easy to write. 5B was the second part of the outline that I finished.  Write what you know best, what you are already working on, or what you have the most information about.  That makes starting much easier.
  • Divide and conquer.  Break your task down into small parts.  Instead of thinking about writing a 30-page strategic plan, I sat down and wrote one-half page on a new website!  Instead of a tome, I just needed to write on six objectives—and most of those objectives were broken down into three or four sub-points, so I could just write on one sub-point at a time and feel like I had made great progress! It was not until I finished that I knew our plan would have thirty pages.  I just added all the small parts together one day–and there it was.
  • Just start.  Sit down, turn on the computer, put the Objective number at the top of the page . . . and start writing . . . doesn’t make much difference if it is good writing or if it is even on the subject. What you are doing is just getting into the groove.  After a few minutes of this, stop, see if you’ve said anything worthwhile—and if you have, cut that and paste it on to a new page and this time start writing on the topic, using the good of what you have already written.
  • Don’t edit yourself!  Very few writers can write creatively and edit themselves at the same time.  This means, don’t worry about spelling and grammar, about outlining, underlining, centering, fonts, or anything else at this point.  First, just write.  Editing will come later in the process. If you start worrying about receive or recieve you will never get past the first paragraph.

Your goal is to get a draft written!  A draft is just a first attempt. If you accept from the beginning that you will change what you’ve written when you do your revision, your editors will change it, your leadership team will change it, your board will change it—it’s going to be changed many times before its finished, so don’t think you’ve got to get it right the first time!  Just get it written.

Next:  Revision is a necessary part of the writing process, so we’ll talk next time about the hard work of revising your writing.

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