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  • Diana Schneidman

Easier writing in the e-era

As freelancers and consultants, some of us spend considerable time writing. The writing may be for our clients or it may be for our own businesses.

You may call yourself a writer or you may call yourself something else, but either way writing is part of most of our self-imposed job descriptions.

Television and movies have long given us this vision of what the writing process looks like. You frantically roll the paper into the typewriter, bang away. Then you pull out the sheet in frustration, ball it up, throw it away and start over. Soon you are sitting amid so many paper wads that the scene resembles the prepping for an intense snowball fight.

No need to work this way anymore. The trick to easy writing is to take advantage of the ongoing opportunity to revise that computerization gives us.

If you are having trouble getting started, simply start writing anywhere in the project, reminding yourself that you will edit later on and that the parts will simply be reorganized down the road. This takes the stress out of sitting down to write.

Don’t aim for perfection. Just get something down on “paper,” or at least on electrons.

Keep going. Write sections as they come to you and outline when you don’t have complete segments ready to go.

Every time you go back to your copy, simply make a few changes if you don’t feel ready to finalize. With each set of revisions, the product gets better.

You just may find that after a few such run-throughs, it is about where you want it to be. So determine you have the best order possible for what you have written to date, see if transitions are needed between paragraphs, and declare it done.

I often find that my original product is much better than I had thought and that once I have something on the screen, it is much simpler than I had expected to complete it.

The same thing goes for your own web content and other e-copy. Improve it with each iteration until you post it, either because of time deadlines or because it is as good as you can get it. Even when it is “final,” you can still return as often as you wish to improve the copy.

I call it incremental writing, and it takes lots of stress out of the project.

Of course, some of us welcome stress from time to time. It’s the old habit of waiting till the last moment because we want to believe we work better under stress. This process, depending on circumstances, gives us the opportunity to benefit from stress yet also relish later opportunities to rework copy yet again.

Sometimes when I’m not especially inspired, I start writing a project days in advance and revisit it several times till I get it in the neighborhood of my expectations.

Originally posted 10-22-13

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