Five steps for stress-free writing. Welcome to my blog, where I talk about writing, speaking coaching, marketing and marriage. Today I’m talking about writing once again: Particularly, five steps for stress-free writing.
Ralph thought he wanted to write a book, but he got really stressed when he started trying to actually do it.
He went about starting the first page but didn’t get very far. He didn’t do very well for a while. He was starting out with fiction. He thought he would try writing nonfiction, but he still had some problems getting started.
Then it came to him, “Why get stressed out?” So he figured out some ways to come up with stress-free writing.
Get Something Out There
I once had a job that required that I write a certain number of words a day. I started trying to do those number of words every day, but my problem was, I was trying to make them the perfect words, and it became very difficult.
Then something came back to me that I had learned before, “Just get something out there.”
So I started off each day with the idea of just getting something out there and I would just start writing. I already had a plan in mind: sort of an outline or at least a topic, but I would just take off and I will just write as quickly as I could.
After about an hour and a half or so, I had my word count done for the day and it was wonderful.
Then I could go back and take out words, put in words, do some more research, and add in some more ideas. I was able to do some research for upcoming projects and go back and do some further editing on what I had done in the past.
That was the secret that, for me, became stress-free writing instead of stressful writing.
The Big Picture
First of all, get the big picture in mind.
What is it you’re wanting to write about? What is the big picture? What is the overall, overarching idea of what you want to write about?
Try to get the idea of what you’re going to write about down to one sentence. Don’t stress over that though. Just get a sentence or maybe a paragraph down for the general idea. Get the big picture.
The second thing is to come up with a basic plan.
Once you have the big picture, try to divide that up into parts.
If it is a sequential thing, figure out the steps. Step one, step two, step three, and so on. Then you can hang your ideas on that.
How do you get your basic plan?
I have talked about mind mapping in the past. You can do a mind map or maybe come up with an outline.
An outline can just be a major point outline, or you might have a couple of sub-points.
Now if you’re really, really detailed and you are a person who writes off of really detailed outlines, go for it if it doesn’t stress you.
If you’re sort of a pantser: somebody who just likes to take off writing as the creative juices flow, the outline or plan doesn’t need to be as detailed.
Either way, just have the overall idea of what you’re writing about and have some major parts of what you’re writing about.
You can use your outline or your mind map for this.
Outline and/or Mind Map
I often find it helpful to do a mind map and then after that do an outline but try not to get too deep into the outline.
Once you’ve done that, you have a basic plan.
Next, you need to write and you want that writing to be stress-free. There are two ways to make the actual writing part stress-free.
The first one I mentioned earlier-fast writing. I started doing that every day in the job I had as a staff writer.
The idea is to do free-flow writing.
Find your topic, and when you come to the part in your plan where you’re going to write about something in that part, instead of stressing about that, just take off and write. If you don’t know how to start, ask yourself a question about it and then start answering the question.
Another way is to just pick a word and take that word and start writing with that.
Now granted, you may go back and change that first two or three sentences later, but just write.
Some people say don’t think. Of course, your mind actually will think, just don’t think to the point of stressing yourself. Remember you can always come back and change what you’re doing.
That’s one plan.
Talk Your Book
The other way is to record yourself. Talk your project out. You can do an audio or video recording on your phone.
After that, you can go back and you can transcribe the audio yourself or you can use a free transcription service on the internet.
The internet-based services usually have about 90% accuracy. You won’t be completely done if you do that but you can take it late and turn it into written words from your spoken speech.
You will want to revise it anyway when you’re going through the process.
So those are two ideas.
One is to just write as fast as you can. Just start and don’t worry about it. Just keep on going and know that you can add or subtract later. Just write. Get it down or speak it out. Later, you’ll be able to edit that.
So get the big picture and the basic plan. When you’re doing the actual writing, just do free writing or free speaking.
Scheduled Writing Time
When you have the basic plan, you need to set a schedule. There are two ways of handling your schedule.
You can decide on a time goal for the day.
In the case of writing a big project like a book, you’re going to write a certain amount every day; usually anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes during the day.
During that time, you can use free-flow writing or speaking.
Even within this method, there are even two ways of doing it. One way makes the time the variable and the number of words the goal. The other way of doing it is to make the number of words the goal and the time will be the variable.
Depending on your personality, one of these should work for you.
Time vs Word Count
If you’re going to utilize the word count method, you will just keep going until you get to the number of words that you have set as your goal. The time it takes you to reach that goal will probably vary from day to day.
I prefer the time constant with the word count being the variable. I have little projects, and many times I will just write for five minutes using free-flow writing. Then I’ll go to the next word or phrase or idea that I want to write about and again just write for five minutes.
If I’m through early I force myself to keep writing, although sometimes those are the things that will be thrown out later. If I don’t get through on time sometimes I just put an ellipsis (…) there so I know I have to finish that section later.
Now that will drive some of you crazy if you want to go with the word count method, but I found this to work very well for me.
So let’s go over the steps:
The first one is to get the big picture.
The second one is to have a basic plan: What are the parts of what you’re talking about?
The third one is to think about free-flow writing or speaking your words.
The fourth one is to write on a schedule. Decide whether you’re going to write three times a week or daily. Most writers like to write daily and then either write for a specified period of time or toward a certain number of words.
Draft of Your Writing
The fifth step after you’ve done all of the above, come up with a draft of your writing. Keep making passes through your writing and change it as you go through.
If you go through it three times, you’ll find that you have gotten it into much better shape and closer to how you want it. Then just keep going over until it is how you want it or until your time deadline arrives.
Those are five steps to stress-free writing.
Well, I hope these tips have been helpful to you.
If you’d like more tips on writing, go to www.randysblogs.com.
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I also have a book that’s called “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death.”
I hope you’re having a wonderful day. This is Randy Carney reminding you that YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!