Recently, I had a reader of my blog ask me for advice on writing articles, specifically, how to stay focused and keep the words flowing. So this one is for you, Josette!
I remember back in college, I took a class called “Article and Essay Technique,” which I will draw on here. I’ve never been a writer who was particularly drawn toward journalism. (Too much research, and I hate the idea of interviewing strangers, ha!) I did, however, thoroughly enjoy writing personal essays. I loved creating stories that were based in memory and exploring the line between fact and fiction.
Since I don’t have a ton of experience writing articles, I’m going to approach this as I would when I can’t seem to get anything out on the page with my WIPs (works in progress). So, in no particular order, here’s my advice:
- Step away from your computer, or put down your pen, and just forget about it. As irrational as this may sound, giving the creative side of my brain a break actually lets me come back refreshed and energized. I find that, subconsciously, my creative brain is still working, even when I’m not writing. Don’t feel guilty about spending a couple hours doing something unrelated to whatever you’re working on. Who knows where your inspiration may come from?
- Change your scenery. Take your laptop to a cafe for a few hours or simply go to a different room in your house. Getting a different perspective may just spark your brain (or trick your brain) into writing anew.
- Listen to music. I LOVE to listen to music when I write. I love it so much, it’s getting to the point where I CAN’T write unless I’ve got my favorite tunes playing.
- Give yourself limits. Challenge yourself with writing sprints. Set a timer and write for that specific amount of time without judgement. Sometimes, writing around your topic helps you get to the meat. You’ve got to first get through the skin, muscle, and bone before you can see the marrow.
- Outline. I’m guilty of nearly never outlining my WIPs, so this one I’m sticking in here only because I think for article writing it might help you get back to what’s important.
- Be kind to yourself. Your first draft is going to suck. Accept it. Write what NEEDS to be written, then add in the magic later.
- Reward yourself. Set goals and reach them. If you plan on writing a thousand words a day, give yourself a reward that’s equal to the effort. Maybe it’s something simple, like, “If I write a thousand words, I’m going to take an hour nap.” Or, “If I write a thousand words, I’m going to buy my favorite author’s new book on Amazon.” But if it’s feasible (and reasonable) maybe it’s more complex, “If I write a thousand words, I’m going to book a weekend getaway.” Decide for yourself what would satisfy.
This list is NOT exhaustive. But I hope it’s a good start! Let me know if you try one how it works out for you!
Have a writing question you want answered? Comment below (or contact me via email or social media) and I’ll do my best!