Ever called yourself a writer, but you never pick up a pen? Ever dreamt up an epic story you’d have written, if only you weren’t so busy at work? Conversely, maybe you’ve never called yourself a writer, even though you constantly churn out newsletters, emails, and blogs for your business and have 1000’s of followers on social media.
I don’t mean to pick on the non-writing writers among us. I’ve been there. In fact, I am you! I know what it’s like to struggle with writing. I constantly question why I chose such a difficult pursuit and profession. Honestly, I suspect I ‘chose’ writing a long, long time ago, because it was one of the cheapest and easiest activities available (I’ve always been a bit of a pinchfist).
In fact, if writing were a sport, it would be Olympic race walking because it looks easier than it is, you need perseverance and you feel vaguely silly and self-conscious when you realise people are taking notice of you.
Writing is also like a hot bath. It is generally a solitary activity, but once in, you get fully immersed. If you enjoy it, you emerge warm and relaxed. If you don’t, you emerge prunish and faint headed.
In addition to being cheap as matchsticks, writing is a skill you can learn, not a talent you’re born with. Yes, really! You can become a better writer, if not an excellent writer, with practice, feedback, and lots of reading. You can even enjoy it, especially if you figure out the method that works for you. Out of the many ways to approach the story you want to tell, some of them don’t even involve a pen.
Don’t forget this is all about telling stories
In fact, writing is a derivative of storytelling, and we know that storytelling can be oral, written, visual and even kinetic. We can feel a story with all our senses, so don’t think you even have to buy a pen and paper if your true desire is to connect using tales, or just to share the latest buzz. You can share legends around a campfire with nothing more than your voice and a great imagination. You can bust myths online by flipping your camera to video-mode and hitting record. You can sing, paint, and dance incredible sagas, tales and stories into the world.
Stories are all around us and we love them. So, if you feel like you’re not making connections or getting heard, think first of the story you’re trying to tell. And if there is no story, like when you have some data to share, a process to reveal, a revamped service or a new product, then find the story that brings it to life. Why was it important to gather this information? How did this service start? Why did you create the product? What mistakes happened along the way? What would your reader, listener, viewer like to hear about what you created? Be vulnerable. Share mistakes. Be honest.
But I just want to write down my story
Many different approaches can result in a piece of writing. Writing can be fiction or non-fiction, for business or for pleasure, aimed at adults or children, but, however it starts, a blank document is often the most intimidating obstacle to overcome, especially when populated one word at a time. The first few sentences might clatter onto the page painfully, extracted from your head like rotten teeth and arranged clumsily, out of place, on the page. Along the way, though, some kind of flywheel starts spinning and before long, you can’t type fast enough for the hot verbal stream flowing from your fingertips—if you are lucky.
It doesn’t always happen easily. You may have to trick the words onto the page or approach the act of writing with stealth!
What are some mind tricks to get your writing started?
Five simple ways to get started with your writing include:
- Keeping a notebook or note-taking app close by to write down day-to-day events happening around you. They often become great opening stories for topics you want to write about.
- Taking photos of unusual sights you come across and using them as thought provokers when you’re ready to write.
- Recording your ideas on voice memo like Otter.ai and send the transcript to yourself so you’re not starting with an empty page.
- Freewriting without restraint. Just let your pen move across the page or let your fingers type whatever is on your mind. This is a type of warm-up or throat-clearing for your hands and your writing mind, so you never have to share it with anyone. Delete it afterwards if you must.
- Start with the very simplest step possible. Maybe you set a timer for five minutes. Don’t move from your blank document during these five minutes. Write anything that comes to mind. Repeat this again the next day, and the next. I promise you will find five minutes. Set a recurring alarm or notification if that helps.
I promise you can start writing. And enjoy it too.
And if you want the writing, but don’t want to write?
If you prefer to leave the writing to the writers so you can get on with your own passion, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll hear back promptly.
I’m Rananda, a Sydney-based writer and editor.
With 25-plus years in corporate life, a financial background, a science education, and a lifetime of writing, I know there is more to starting and growing a loyal following than just the words on your website or saving that draft manuscript in a folder.
I bring comprehensive practical experience to supporting your writing needs.