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Stop worrying and start writing

I love writing. I find the process enjoyable and it’s a great feeling when I know I’ve written something good.

On the days I’m feeling sharp (let’s pretend that’s most days), I spend about an hour researching and thinking about what I’m going to write, then an hour or two writing. It feels remarkably easy.

But I know that’s not the case for most people. Many people find writing one of the hardest things they do that doesn’t take physical skill or strength.

If you’re one of those people, I’d like to see if I can help.

Ideas are more important than words

No matter how good a writer you are, without a good idea and some decent information to flesh it out, don’t bother.

If you write something bland and pointless, most readers won’t bother, that’s for sure.

On the other hand, if you have a strong idea and lots of interesting points to make, you’re already well on your way.

So, start with an idea. Do a search for what others have written about that topic to get your brain ticking over. Pick the key points - the ones you most want to convey to your audience - and you’re ready.

Concepts come before structure

You’ve found something you want to write about, which means you can make it interesting to your readers.

If you pick a key point, perhaps the thing that you think most people will immediately “get”, that could be a great starting point, as it will “hook” the readers.

Writing about that key point will give you a chance to get some momentum straight away. If you’re lucky, the next-most-important point will logically flow from there.

Importantly, you can always move things around after you’ve written the whole piece. That’s what select, copy and paste are for!

Spelling matters, vocabulary not so much

“Gee, I wish the writer had used more big words” … said no-one, ever!

Using everyday language does more than make something easier to understand, it makes it easier to write, too.

If you’re worrying about what words you’re using while you’re writing, stop it.

Sure, once you’re done with the writing, read back over your piece and see if you need to change some words to make it even clearer, but the only reason to worry as you write is if you just can’t remember the right word.

And you can stop worrying about that, too. Check out Onelook’s reverse dictionary, which lets you type in the thought you’re trying to find the right word for, then spits out a list of suggestions.

Use your friendly tone

You’re not giving a formal presentation here, so use a conversational tone, as if you were just having a chat with some mates.

That will make your audience feel more comfortable and make it seem like this is really the way you think. A more formal style of writing can seem much less authentic.

If people can relate to both your subject matter and the way you get your thoughts across, they’ll be more likely to be engaged and want to read more from you.

Plus, you’ll be able to do it consistently. If you try to write in a way that isn’t really you, it’ll be that much harder to do once, and impossible to do regularly.

Keep the audience in mind

This might take some practice, but you should write for the reader. Of course, you’re writing about something you want to write about, but it also needs to be something other people want to read. It’s even better if they learn something.

There’s no problem writing in the first person from your own experience – phrases like “I have found” and “which is what happened to me” can add authenticity – but the reason for doing that is to share something the audience will find useful and/or interesting.

As you’re getting used to this, it might mean that when you read it back to yourself, you change some of the wording to focus on “you”, the reader, rather than “me”, the writer.

Hopefully this entire post gives you a reasonable example … considering I’ve used “you”, “your”, “you’re” and even “you’ve” 52 (now 56) times!

Good luck with your writing (57!).

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