How I get over the blank page stage.

What is the most important element on your website (or the flyer for your next retreat, or Eventbrite listing, or almost anything you use to share information with your community)?

My vote is your words.

I will always advocate for good design. Good design makes everything better. More intriguing, and more accessible. Still, if the words don’t resonate, there’s not much design can do for you.

I know writing doesn’t come easy to all of us (especially when we need to write about ourselves), and I also am a big proponent of leveraging your strengths – there are many cases in which you don’t have to use writing just because that’s the most common thing to do.

Sometimes though there’s really no way around it, or at least no way that would lead you and the people you want to connect with to the destination just as effectively as the written word.

So, I thought I’d share my process for writing.

I’ve had a couple copywriting and editing projects earlier this summer in which that process worked out great, and I have also heard back form clients who started using it and liked it a lot.

The aha moment for me was that the thing that tripped me up was the idea that it had to be perfect from the get go. I think there are very few incredibly talented people who can just think of what they want to communicate and write it down just the way it needed to be. I’m not one of those people.

Which means I had to give myself space to write something very, very imperfect first.

Here’s what I do now:

Step one: Just write down the things you actually want to say, without any consideration for how you want to say them.

Bullet points work great here. For example:
– yoga & literature retreat
– for: English Lit Majors from any industry
– yoga classes inspired by different literary genres plus time to read, write, and discuss
– awesome space right by the ocean
– yoga & literature go together great because: open up different perspectives, time for reflection & letting new thoughts sink in, stretch and move after hours of writing
– dates, price, where to sign up

(OK, if you’re an English Lit Major, maybe writing won’t be all that hard for you, but I’ll stick with this example for now.)

Step two: Put the bullet points in order.

Maybe the dates need to be mentioned right at the beginning, and the description of the space can come later.

Step three: Write a first draft.

At this point I really just string the points together into coherent sentences. And then I take a break, go for a walk, have a tea, something completely unrelated that gives the verbal part of my brain a time out.

Step four: Come back to your draft and edit it.

Read it out loud and see if it sounds natural. If you were to hear this for the first time, would you immediately get what it is about and why you should care?

Step five (optional and helpful): Ask at least one other person to read it with fresh eyes.

You may not do this for everything you write, but for really important pieces, it can do wonders. (If you like, this is something we can do over Skype in a burning question session – on the house.)

Step six: Put on the finishing touches and release it into the world.

Voila. Breaking the project down into these bite-size tasks helps me get over the initial resistance. Instead of thinking that I have to “write my About page” I can just tell myself that all I am doing is jot down some bullet points, or write a draft – and once I come back to that draft, almost everything is already there and all I have to do is edit.

How do you write?

I’d love to hear how this is working for you, and what other processes you have developed for your own writing projects. And my offer still stands: Book a free Skype call if you’d like my eyes on your draft.

Photo Credit: DeaPeaJay via Compfight cc

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