We have all sat trying to write something, waiting for inspiration that will not come. The harder we try, the more frustrating the whole process becomes. However there are simple techniques that will help to get ideas flowing.
Here are my top ten tips:
Write down any ideas that come to mind when you think about the topic about which you are writing. Do not worry about relevance, grammar, spelling, neatness or writing full sentences.
The key is to get your brain engaged without overthinking. It is helpful to space your ideas out as this stops your thinking becoming cramped.
2. Walk away
Ideally you would put your brainstorming away for at least a day but even an hour or two will help. the brainstorming starts to free up ideas. The key is to then let your subconscious continue the work.
Remember the time you couldn't recall the name of a song or an actor and then at 2am the name sprang into your mind? Your subconscious had been working away on the problem without impinging on your conscious mind.
3. Go back to your brainstorming
Read through your brainstorming notes. At this point in time, you might discard some ideas and add others.
4. Order your ideas
Put ideas in order of importance or relevance, adding examples if necessary.
5. Walk away
Let your subconscious do some more work. Again, the longer the better but even an hour will help.
6. Start writing
At this stage do not worry about spelling or grammar. The main aim is to get ideas flowing and you do not want anything to interrupt this process.
7. Walk away
This means you can come back to the document with fresh eyes.
8. Read through your document
Make sure you are happy with the ideas and the flow of your writing. You can also check grammar and spelling.
9. Walk away
It is important to give yourself distance so you will recognise errors such as ambiguity. It is possible to become too close to what you are writing.
10. Final edit
Read your document aloud as this will make you more aware of anything that needs correcting or improving. If possible, ask someone else to read your document.
Ten steps might sound cumbersome but this is actually less time consuming and decidedly less stressful than sitting, trying to force ideas out. The process can be adapted to individual likes – for example, some people find it helps to think about their writing while exercising. However, the key is the initial brainstorming as it helps the ideas to flow.
What techniques do you use to help you to write your documents?