Navigating crap and writing more
Type away with these three dead simple tips.
If you read a lot of crap online, you’re not to blame if you write crap yourself. We are what we eat.
Every high level writing advice ever written includes this: If you want to write better, read better. Some even go as far as saying you need to spend as much time reading as writing.
Hemingway wrote that crucial majority of his work was crap. Does that mean most of what he read was also crap?
Read well, write well.
Maybe. There is definitely more crap to read today than it was in his time. Thousands of books published every year and growing. Gazillions of blog posts, status updates, tweets.
And that’s great. Ubiquitous publishing empowered by the internet is a tremendous advantage. Does that mean there is a lot more crap? Yes. Does that mean there is a lot more amazing stuff that wouldn't exist without it? Absolutely.
It’s a funnel. If you can’t expand the opening, pour more crap.
The analogy is getting out of hand so I’ll stop now.
To put it together, read well, write well. Magic right?
Yet that doesn’t tell you anything about what-do-you-how-do-you start when you sit down at the type pad with a desire to bleed.
There are three great tips I’ve found to be extremely helpful. Is it an approach? Is it advice? Who knows? What I know it helps me and many others start, keep, and finish writing a draft.
1. Writing a letter or note to myself
This is a classic. The easiest way to begin typing away with no pressure or judgement is write to yourself.
Many big blogs were built on this simple advice. They started by sharing personal notes. Publishing notes of your own may be useful for someone with similar aspirations as you.
2. Writing a status update for social media
It seems to wipe off a bit of pressure when you write something as ubiquitous as a dumb everyday post for your socials. Scribble down two or three bullets on paper to get it going. Switch to the status input window as if you’re writing a post. Be amazed by your ideative genius.
3. Reverse engineering a title
Let’s say an idea comes to your head. A problem you believe many people struggle with. Let’s write a post about it!
Then you get stuck. How should I start?
Start at the bottom. Use the title as a proposition and go back to explain. I believe we should choose titles after completing because, as lovely writing often is, you may not know what this piece turns out to be.
So reverse engineering a title idea is a simple trick to emit work when all else fails.