After our webinar on How to Write Faster at Work, we asked participants to name the one tip they planned to try first from the dozens we shared. Here are the top five tips nonprofit communicators plan to try first to write faster at work.
Using a Timer
We recommend using a timer in two different ways when writing. First, if you are having trouble getting started, set it for 10 minutes and force yourself to write on the topic for that long, no matter how bad the writing may be. By the end of 10 minutes, you will have found something you can use.
Second, use a timer to make yourself stop editing. This is especially good for you perfectionists! Give yourself 10 or 20 minutes of final editing and proofing and then BE DONE.
Keeping a “Cut From” Folder
Don’t you hate it when you write a really good sentence or paragraph or even multiple paragraphs only to eventually realize that content just doesn’t fit with the piece you are writing? And then you love the words so much, you leave them in there, even when you shouldn’t?
This advice is often called “killing your darlings” but instead of deleting it, just save it elsewhere. I recommend creating a “Cut From” folder and then dropping the random bits of text you want to save into it. In the file name or the file itself, you can say “cut from article on XYZ on date” so you have some recollection of it later. This is a great place to return when you are really stuck for new ideas.
Tricking Your Brain into Seeing Something New When Editing Your Own Work
It is very hard to edit your own writing because your eyes see what you thought you typed instead of what you actually typed! We shared several ways to trick your brain into seeing what is actually on the page, and here are the favorites mentioned by the participants:
- Read it backwards, sentence by sentence, starting at the end until you get to the top
- Change the font or size of the text
- Read it somewhere else from where you wrote it or on a different device
Imagining a Conversation with a Reader Before You Start Writing
First, identify a couple of personas in your mind — who are you really writing this for? Then give yourself a few minutes to imagine what a conversation on your chosen topic with that person or persons might sound like.
How would you start it? How would they respond? What questions would they have? How would you explain or elaborate? This simple exercise of imaging a conversation can get you into the right headspace to actually write for that person who represents your target audience.
Saving Notes as You Consume Content or Listen to Your Community
Never rely on your memory when you come across good ideas or insights you’ll want later. You simply have much too much information flowing through your brain every day. Instead, create one or a few places where you can save articles or ideas or insights that you think could be used in your content later. Maybe you’ll quote the article, or just use it as inspiration. But save those things somewhere other than your brain!
Missed the “How to Write Faster at Work” webinar? The recording is available for free in our community!