Ernest Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”.
Writers are vulnerable and often bare more than planned because the words start to take on a life of their own, even those who are writing for their business. As a business owner there will always be an element of writing in your role. It might be writing emails to clients, writing an article for an industry magazine, writing a media release or writing copy for your website. It doesn’t matter what the words are for, the point is you are still writing, which brings me to the purpose of this post: how to write the best words.
Which writing method do you use?
If you take Hemingway’s words literally and liken the act of writing to a violent encounter that should be put off for a long as possible, then the threat of a deadline might spur you into action. However, if you take his quote to mean writing is like an emotional purge, then you might have binge writing sessions where you write hundreds or thousands of words as inspiration strikes.
Both methods involve a feast or famine situation that might not be conducive to a good writing habit. I know this because I’ve been the writer in both of these scenarios. The writer I try really hard to be is the one who writes every day, working on whatever needs to be done in advance of the deadline so there is no stressful panic on the day something is due.
After many years in a busy newsroom, I know I work best when there’s ambient noise around me. That might be in a café, in the library (where I’m writing this post) or at home surrounded by noisy kids and pets. I find I struggle to get into writing when I’m faced with too much silence. With this in mind, I thought I’d give you my tips for food writing habits.
3.5 writing tips
1. Write a little every day – this doesn’t have to be a set word count, but maybe set yourself a time limit and see what you can get done in that time. I recently attended a writing workshop presented by academic productivity expert Hugh Kearns and he spoke about what he calls two “golden hours” where you sit down at your desk and just write on your topic for two hours without checking email, social media, answering the phone, speaking to anyone or even editing your writing. I’ve been doing this and it’s made my PhD word count jump up!
2. Find your optimum writing situation – by this I mean where, when and the conditions around your writing. Do you write better at a desk in your garage with no noise at 1am, or does a 9am to 11am slot at your favourite café fueled by coffee suit you? If you’re like me you might prefer variety so try a an hour or two on one day in the office, another burst at home and then an extra writing session in a public place. Different things work for different people, so keep trying until you find your sweet writing spot.
3. Just write – often the problem with writing is the starting, and once you’ve started everything flows. Put together a list of what it is you need to write and make a commitment to yourself to get this list done by a certain day. If you’re driven by deadlines, even self-imposed limits will make you sit down and craft those words.
3.5 Reward yourself – (this isn’t a specific writing tip, but I felt it worth adding) like anything that takes effort to achieve, it nice to know there’s a treat waiting at the end. If I’m writing in my uni office I treat myself to walk in the sun to the uni café for a coffee after my two golden hours of writing. Find something that will make you keep sitting (or standing if that works for you) until the end of your time limit and dangle that carrot.
These are some of the tips that work for me as a professional writer, but I’m also a business owner and they are relevant for whichever words I’m crafting.
What are your tips for optimum writing habits?