Three tips for non-writers to get your next writing piece shipped.
An idea pops into your head. Maybe it’s a comment on something in the news, maybe it’s a review of a new product, or maybe it’s a plot point for the next great work of fiction.
You’re energized. You know this idea has potential so you rush to your favored idea absorber and start. You get the first idea down, then another, but then it happens. The one thing I dread on every writing project I’ve ever started. The realization that your one good idea wasn’t any more than a single paragraph.
This is going to require more work.
For many writers, myself included, this is where so many ideas migrate from an exciting opportunity to an unfinished hassle, never to escape the idea graveyard.
If this sounds like you, then listen up. Writing is a tough pursuit. It tests your mental fortitude and your ego. And although writing will always be tough, the most important thing to finding any success as a writer is to finish and ship out your work.
Tip #1 — Don’t Stop When The Ideas Do
If I stopped writing the moment I felt like I had no more ideas or no perfectly clear path to finishing a piece, I would literally never complete a single written work. I’d probably never finish anything. Pushing past the anxiety of not knowing where you are going to end up will help you finish what you start.
If you can, set yourself up with a time to write and just keep writing until that time is up. When you are struggling with getting the ideas out, just write through it. You might end up throwing it all out and starting again. But even when you do that, you’re starting from a better place next time you write.
Tip #2 — Force the First Draft
When I write, my head fills with dreams of how the piece will be accepted and lauded by people around the world. Writing something people will learn from or enjoy is what keeps me going. But dreams have a funny way of getting in the way of reality. When a sentence won’t coalesce, it’s easier to shut down and back away, thinking that a little bit of space and time will help get the creative juices flowing.
There’s nothing wrong with a creative break, but do whatever you can to push through writing while you are already set up to write. Once you stop, it’s easy to make even the smallest obstacle, like having to reopen your document, an insurmountable task that means you cannot possibly get started again.
For smaller content, like blogs, the opportunity cost of finishing a first draft is quite small. Even if you write what is often considered long-form content, something around 4,000 words) getting a first draft completed will not take that much time. However, what about a novel? Well for that, you have to go to Tip#3.
Tip #3 — Do You Still Like Your Idea?
Be brutally honest.
If you still do, return to Tip #1 and keep going. If you don’t, then stop. But for good. Don’t keep the draft. Don’t stress about going back to it. Leave it and move on.
Writing is tough. Writing consistently is tough. But it’s impossible if you don’t keep trying. Good luck!