a simple way to write

The process of writing is a tool. It serves us, not the other way around. There’s something wrong when struggling with the writing process keeps your marvellous thoughts and much-needed wisdom from reaching the rest of us.

To make the writing process easier, to shift the focus from how to write to what to say, don’t focus on the words until the very end. Good, clear writing is mostly about thinking. When the thoughts are clear, the words appear.

Follow these four steps, in this order, to ease the pain. If you hit a stuck spot, circle back and start again at the top.

brain dump

Write down every thought you have about your topic for this piece. Using a word processor will make the subsequent steps easier. The goal is to get all related thoughts outside of your head so you can examine them with some detachment. Keep going until your brain feels newly breezy, like space has opened up.

organize

Rearrange what you’ve just collected into a sequence that makes sense for what you want to say and who you want to say it to. Fiddle around. Add and expand as needed. Play with options until you hit on the organization of the thoughts that feels right. For now, ignore spelling and grammar errors. This is the time for order, not polish.

connect

Now that your thoughts are in an order that makes sense to you, focus on linking them logically and clearly to one another so your reader can easily follow along. Experiment with paragraph breaks. Add, remove, or edit sentences and phrases here and there to improve the flow. Play connect the dots.

words

Finally, and only now that your thoughts are organized and at your service, focus on the words themselves to give them polish. Tweak words and phrases to enhance zip and to more accurately speak in your voice. Continue experimenting, keeping what works and deep-sixing what gets in the way of clarity and meaning. Reread and continue removing everything non-essential. To ferret out the last stumbly bits, read the piece aloud.

Originally published on Highly Sensitive Power.

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