Writing something, be it an essay, article, report or blog can be a difficult task. Lots of people are scared of this process because the hardest thing to do in writing is to get started. However, I have found a few tips and tricks to help get you going. Writing is a process, you start with a blank page and you fill it up; it’s that easy and that hard. Read on to see how you can get from a blank page to your best copy.
1. Start with a blank page. It may seem old school but starting away from the computer and with pencil and paper means fewer distractions. The white space gives you a clean work surface to put your ideas on.
2. Brainstorm. If you know what topic you want to write about (or even if you don’t) just start writing down one or two-word ideas on the page. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if you think the idea is silly. There is no order, rhyme or reason to this, this is to get your mind working and will be invaluable later.
3. Start putting some structure on it. Now that you have all your ideas down, you need to figure out where you are going to start, how you want to organise your points, and then how you want to end the piece. Even if you just number your points so you know which ones you want to discuss first and how you want to develop your discussion from point 1 to points 2, 3, 4 and 5 will help put some structure on your work.
4. Get a new piece of paper. From what now looks like a disorganised heap of rambling words, you are going to create a rough outline of your work. At the top of the page write down the topic and the aim of your work nice and big so you remain focused on it. Now, write out your points again leaving a large gap between each of them. Go back to your first point. Write down in rough phrases what you want to say about point one and then how you are going to lead into point two. Do this for every point.
5. Different structures for different documents. If this is a business report or something that is more about giving information than developing an argument you will want to organise your information in a different way. First you want to create the headings for each section, and perhaps subheadings if there is more than one thing to discuss in each section. Once you organise where all your information is to go, you are nearly half way there.
6. Look at your introduction and conclusion. Decide how you want to introduce your work and how you want to bring your points together in the conclusion. Write a few scrappy sentences to book end your outline.
7. You now have a map to guide you in your writing. Go to your computer and get typing. Put your map next to you and follow it step by step, developing each section as you go through. If you get an idea about a section further on or even earlier in your work, get out your red pen and write it down on the map to remind yourself.
8. Once you have your first draft complete, pat yourself on the back, that is the most painful work over and done with; the rest is just rewriting and editing.
9. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Ask yourself if your argument makes sense, do the points flow logically from one to the other and if you have supported your argument with evidence. Don’t worry if your final draft looks nothing like your original map, you have taken your ideas and developed them and altered your original ideas; what is important is that you got here, to this final draft.
10. Now you need to proofread and edit your work. I will be doing a follow-up article on how to effectively proofread your own work, follow these guidelines to polish your writing and then publish, submit, print! Or, if you can’t wait that long, give me a call.