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Getting the Words Rolling
By Zachery Koppelmann   View more articles by this author
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November 10


We all want to be heard. We all have ideas that we want to share, stories to tell, and insights to explore. However, it can be hard to get those ideas, stories, and insights from our heads and onto paper or a screen. Have no fear—it is hard for everyone.


Say you are writing a blog. You set a goal to post at least 250 words, three times a week. You sit in front of your computer on Monday and stare at the screen. It stares back. It wins the blinking contest. After a few minutes, an emails pops up. You read it, follow a link, which leads to another link. After an hour to two, you remember that you were going to blog, but now you have to get to work. Well, you can always write tomorrow.


If this sounds familiar—for any writer, really—then you are normal. If some days you can slam out your goal, and other times you go weeks without an update, you are normal. Never fear, there are some tricks to getting going when you sit down to write. The first is to not worry about getting your work out in one sitting or in a ‘correct’ form. Turn off your inner editor, don’t worry about how it looks, ignore the misspellings and other errors; write. The purpose of a first draft is to get your thoughts out of your head and into a space where they cannot escape or get lost. 


Let’s go back to the Monday blog. You sit down in front of your computer and stare at the screen. You blink. The computer doesn’t. Start typing. It really doesn’t matter about what, just get going. Type that you are staring at the computer and it is staring back. Type that you really wish you had something to write about. Explain why you want to blog. Explain what you think blogging is for and how it should be done. Explain what you want to add to the blogging world, why what you have to say is important. Explain that you just noticed the clock and that you have to get going. Save your work as a draft. 


Over lunch, read it over. Notice that as you started to explain blogs, uses, purposes, and your goals, you started to touch on bigger ideas and thoughts. Grab one of those ideas; explain it in detail. Cover the reporter questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Save the draft.


After dinner, read over the second draft. Revise. Check all of your pronouns, and make sure they clearly reference someone or something that you have introduced. Look for really long sentences. Break them up if they are unclear or confusing. Add details and specifics to enhance clarity. Save the draft.


Watch a show or two. Just before you head to bed, look the third draft over one more time. Read it out loud. Tweak any last little bits. Post it. 


On Wednesday, you get up, sit in front of your computer, and it stares at you, but you don’t notice because you go back to that first draft, the one with all of the explanations, and pick your next idea to revise and work on. Follow the same directions from Monday. Repeat on Friday. 


See, you can do it.


Enjoy your exploration, next time we will cover getting going for other genres.


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