Monday, October 21, 2013

10 Tips to Get Your Ideas on Paper!

When you are writing your book, article, newsletter or even a business letter, it helps to know that even professional writers struggle with the blank page.

Here are some tips to help you when you feel tired, stuck or out of ideas:

1. Write down all the thoughts and concepts that come to mind on this particular topic, chapter or newsletter quickly in longhand. You may have a vague conception of how you want people to feel or the action you want them to take at the end. Write those down too. This is important because sometimes we tend to focus in on one aspect when we start writing and our other concepts and feelings may float out the window. Some people like to meditate for a few minutes before writing because it opens the space for our "other than rational mind" to have a say, other people find mind mapping helpful because it spurs ideas and makes connections.

2. Remember the goal is to bat out an imperfect first draft. This takes the pressure off you. In that draft, you'll get to see where your mind is taking you. It may discover a different conclusion, a wonderful illustrative story, or a more nuanced, profound summing up than you had anticipated in the idea stage. This is the magic of letting your imagination go and being in the free-form first draft stage where nothing is set in stone, nothing is final.

3. When you finish your first draft, read it over, make any changes or corrections to the document and print it out.

4. Take a break, even for five to 10 minutes. Get away from the computer. Go for a short walk, clear your mind, have a cup of tea or coffee, or do some other small, mindless tasks.

5. Now read over your printed copy. Double spacing may help. This is important because there is a definite difference between reading on the screen and reading on paper. A good editor knows this and even as we love the Track Changes feature in Word, pacing, cadence and the way words flow together are best judged on the printed page.

6. If you have a red pen, this will help you feel more professional and also spot your changes later. Make corrections and add in longhand to what you've already written if you want to expand a certain area. Conversely, tighten it up. Is there a more succinct or clearer way to express something? An image or phrase that gives an instant visual? Do you tend to use the same word often? Look for synonyms that can replace those words.

7. When appropriate, put some of YOU in there. This does not mean, "I think... " we know you think that because you are writing it. But feelings are connectors. For example, if you are enumerating contest rules, you may explain you didn't want to use a certain rule but it makes things fair, or that you don't like rules but everyone needs to be on the same page and be able to communicate. This makes you and your darn rule-making more palatable and human.

8. Now put your corrections in the document and print it out again.

9. Look it over one more time for any mistakes and tweaks. Some writers read their work aloud. This also helps with rhythm and flow.

10. Congratulate yourself for a job well done and write down your ideas for the next chapter... or press the SEND button!

Rosemary Sneeringer is The Book Nurturer. An experienced editor, ghostwriter and copywriter, she specializes in helping writers access their inner author. Rosemary works with many entrepreneurs to complete their self-help, health and business books. She also specializes in memoirs and assisting people with their personal story for their website, marketing materials and speeches. Go to
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