What’s writing got to do with it? A lot more than you realize.
You’re not sure if you’re a good enough writer. Exposing your writing skills to the world scares the mess out of you. And you don’t even know what to write about. You’ve started your own business and you wonder if blogging makes any sense for you.
So, instead of writing something, you write nothing. Instead of being dynamic, your website remains static. You only update your packages and pricing ever so often. You won’t flip the switch on your website’s blog page yet because you’re afraid of failing.
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” at least that’s what John Wooden said. Maybe that’s a bit extreme so let’s rewrite his quote.
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to write might be.”
Still a little extreme, perhaps, but let’s face it. Writing is an important skill that all of us need to be successful in today’s world. A few of my favs even think so too.
GG Renee: 5 Ways You Can Write to Heal
Anne Lamott: Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life*
Harvard Business Review: Improve Your Writing to Improve Your Credibility
As much as we want to avoid it, we must write in some way to communicate with others and ourselves.
So let’s not dismiss the impact of writing on our careers, businesses, and psyche.
It may be what your business needs to get your ideal client.
Composing better emails may help you build a better team at work.
Writing may help you influence online followers to engage with your passion project.
It just may be a way for you to discover who you are.
Writing can be hard, I get it. But it doesn’t have to be fatal, especially if you take it one step at a time and, of course, practice.
And when you’re writing for the web, a blog for instance, yes, there’s technology, social media, SEO, and data analytics. But don’t worry about all that stuff now.
First focus on writing, pure and simple.
Writing may or may not come naturally to you. If it does, you’re somewhat at an advantage. If it doesn’t, there are measures you can take to overcome your fear of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
1. Examine your feelings toward the process of writing. Does it make you cringe thinking about it because it reminds you of that 10th grade English class you hated? Dr. Paulson got a little too happy with his red pen. You couldn’t get the grammar rules right. You found yourself struggling to structure your thoughts. And your writing made no sense.
Or maybe it brings you a sense of satisfaction? You’ve kept a journal for years and whenever you write you feel free. You may be someone who doodles a lot. Or you may be the copious note taker at church or school. (Everyone always wants to copy yours.)
Getting clear about how writing makes you feel can get you over the first hurdle. If you don’t like writing, don’t force it. Write when you’re inspired to and don’t torture yourself when you’re not. And when you do decide to write, track yourself for those pleasurable moments like discovering a new word, getting clear about a line of thought, or verbalizing an emotion. Writing can feel good, you know.
2. Make writing a daily practice, regardless if it comes naturally or not. The more you write, the better you’ll get. The more comfortable you’ll feel. And the closer you’ll be to finding your voice, an important aspect of writing a blog, for example.
Find a regular time during the day or night when you can devote undivided attention to writing. Stella Orange’s Shut Up and Write has helped me along with Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, which she details in her book The Artist’s Way*.
Practice doesn’t necessarily make your writing perfect, but it’ll ease the process so that writing is no longer a battle.
3. Acknowledge the ways in which you write. You write something every day. From emails, memos, social media posts, to text messages, grocery lists, and journal entries, these writing exercises are helpful ways to strengthen your writing muscles.
Pay closer attention to whatever you’re writing. Don’t “write off” the process as a mindless or insignificant task. Take advantage of these opportunities to develop clarity and conciseness in your writing.
Be mindful, though, of the shortcuts we take when texting or posting to social media. Some of which may make you a lazy writer.
Beware: Lazy and writing are not synonymous.
4. Be present with yourself when writing. Before you sit down to write, get comfortable in your body. Do something physical like stretch or walk. Take a few deep breaths. Remove distractions in your environment.
Get inside your head (and heart) and explore your thoughts and feelings. You may find that talking out loud can help you be present when writing. Hearing the words that are in your head adds more of your presence in the room. (When in doubt, talk it out!)
Without hesitation, write what pops into your head to get into a flow before diving in deep. You’ll find that sometimes you need to empty what’s there so that you can focus more on your topic and not those fleeting thoughts meant to distract you. (I’ll say more about free writing later in the series.)
If you can’t seem to be present with yourself, walk away and come back later. Again, don’t force it.
5. Decide which way is more comfortable for you to write. Do you prefer the smoothness of your Moleskin notebook* and Tul pen*? Or do prefer to tap (or bang) your fingers on your tablet or computer keyboard?
Seems minor, right? Minor details like these can make or break your writing experience. The key to writing pure and simple is being comfortable so that you can flow and get into your writing zone. Don’t let the way you’re writing interrupt your flow, cause you to procrastinate, or give up writing altogether. Establish a few disciplines to usher you into your writing zone.
As I’m tapping my keyboard now, I’m in my writing zone, comfortably sitting at my desk with my feet planted squarely on the ground. I’m listening to my favorite Pandora station, Esperanza Spalding because I can’t write without jazziness playing in the background (one of my writing disciplines). I’m in my head, feeling my heart, imagining you, sitting at your desk, taking your pen to paper and becoming a stronger, clearer, and happier writer.
Writing has a lot to do with it. So my advice to you is just write. The rest will come.
When you’re ready to start, let me give you my hand, head, and heart. I will coach you through my 7-step writing process to prepare you for blogging and help you become a stronger, clearer, and carefree writer in 4-6 virtual sessions. We’ll look at other aspects of blogging too based on your individual needs.