We all have ways in which we do things – these are strategies, approaches and methods that we have developed in order to achieve goals or meet our needs in some way. Most of us develop writing strategies when we are at school and university and we continue to use them for years afterwards.
Some of those strategies are good; they are efficient, they make work easier to get done and they feel natural to us. They epitomise who we are and how we do things.
When we start to do something new or challenging, we rely on our old methods and approaches to support us in achieving the results we want. If you are approaching writing a book for the first time, rediscovering your writing method may be essential to you getting your book done.
Alternatively, if your old strategies were not as effective as you would like, it may be the perfect opportunity to instigate some changes.
What is your writing method?
Answer these questions to begin to get a clear idea of how you do things when it comes to writing.
- How did you approach writing essays at school or university?
- Did you plan your answers or just dive in and see what happened?
- Did you spend time editing or did you aim to get everything down perfectly first time round?
- Did you do your work the night before it was due to be handed in or as soon as it was set as homework?
- Do you do your writing in bulk (i.e. a whole week’s worth of blog posts in one go) or piecemeal (daily)?
- Do you plan your writing time or just sit down and do it when you feel like it?
- Do you like to chip away at your writing tasks – do a little every day – or get them all done in one go – focus on one job for a few days or weeks and do it until it’s done?
- What is your favourite writing task?
- Why do you enjoy it?
- What do you avoid doing when it comes to writing?
- Why do you dislike it?
- Do you ask for help or plug away on your own?
- When you’re short of time, do you ask for an extension or burn the midnight oil?
- When you’ve finished your writing task, do you feel positive and good that it’s done or anxious and uncertain that it’s good enough?
- What is your best memory of writing something?
- Explain why it was so good.
- What is your worst memory of writing something?
- Explain why it was so awful.
- How do you approach doing writing for your business now?
- What kind of writing situation do you enjoy?
- What is your solution when things go wrong?
- The best and the worst of writing times
- How do you plan to go about writing your book
- Explain what your plan is for getting your book done.
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions but they will help you to uncover your writing method and approach. If you do this now, any negative tendencies (doing everything at the last minute or never writing a plan before you begin writing) can be dealt with and changed.
You can also see what works well and make sure you provide the right circumstances for yourself to succeed. For example, if you like to focus on one task and keep doing it until it is done, you might want to plan some time away from your normal routine – it could be as simple as taking time off work or away from your usual workload, or planning to work somewhere other than at home – so you can concentrate on the job of writing your book. If you end up doing bits here and there because you haven’t cleared your diary it could sabotage your usually productive approach.
Equally, if you like to take a ‘little and often’ approach make sure you keep your schedule balanced so you have time to write daily. You may decide to make a regular time of day your writing time – it could be any time of day, it’s a case of choosing the time when you are at your best and are most likely to be able to keep free on a consistent basis.
If your ideal is unachievable – you have too many commitments, perhaps or not enough money to do what you’d like – think about some alternatives. Would you be willing to try a different approach? How can you adapt your ideal to create the key elements that bring you success? For example, if you can’t take time off work, could you commit a whole weekend to writing? Could you work in the local coffee shop or library or perhaps in a different location in your home so you get that sense of being somewhere that is aimed at supporting you in writing your book?
Get it planned out
Sometimes the power of achievement lies in getting clear on what works and what doesn’t. If you can eliminate anything that is likely to hold you back and enhance anything that is likely to support you, success is more likely. Write down your plan and then diarise it. if it isn’t working, don’t fret, just adjust your plan and learn. Be confident that you will find the right solution and be prepared to be flexible – if you don’t already know it, you will discover what kind of writer you are and what you need to do and be your best as you tackle the task of writing your book.
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