Task-oriented folks lean more toward productivity. They’re concerned with details, and they’re great at following through with directives. Give them a list and they’ll finish everything on it.
Idea-oriented folks lean more toward vision-casting. They’re concerned with the bigger picture, and they’re great at seeing the potential in everything. Give them some task-oriented folks, and together, they can accomplish much.
It’s especially easy, though, for idea-oriented writers to get stuck in the dreaming phase. We have possible book titles floating through our minds at any given moment. We have viable chapter outlines sketched on gum wrappers and crumpled at the bottoms of our purses.
As soon as we settle on one idea, another one comes along that’s more tantalizing than the first.
Six Steps to Getting Started
Getting started is always the hardest part.
To transform our inspiration into perspiration and commit our ideas to paper takes focused determination. Here are six steps to help any writer get started on that long-awaited project.
1. Know Your Reason for Writing
Why do you want to write? To gain clarity about a situation? To keep a record of events? To encourage others? To entertain? To inform? To persuade?
When the days of boredom come — and they will come — we’ll be tempted to move on to a more exciting adventure. Some other promising project will hijack our attention. But when we articulate our underlying purpose for writing, that becomes our anchor. Instead of drifting from one idea to another, we’ll be more likely to see it through to completion. And that’s the best part.
2. Articulate the Core Message You Want to Communicate
Once you’ve determined why you want to write, decide on what you want to write. Do you want to journal about your day? Or is there a story you want to share? A conversation you want to join? A topic you want to explore?
Writing leads to discovery. Our written words not only reveal themselves, they reveal something about us too. They tell us who we really are and what we value most. Once we’ve put into words the core message we want to communicate, this becomes our guiding focus.
Your why anchors you. Your what guides you.
3. Determine Who You’re Writing For
Once you’ve settled on the central message you want to convey, identify who would most benefit from your writing. When you write, imagine yourself writing to this person. What’s her story? What is she hoping to learn from your words? What questions might she ask? How would you respond to those questions?
The more we think of writing as a dialogue, the more our writing will take on the conversational qualities of voice and tone.
4. Allocate a Certain Time for Writing Each Day
Writers are notorious for finding lots of ways to occupy their time. Distractions are plentiful. A nice quiet time for writing won’t magically appear on its own. As cliché as it might sound, writers must set aside a designated time to write. Without intentionality, we can’t have productivity.
Once you’ve found the time that works best for you, stick with it. Consistency is key. Also, enlist the support of family members. When everyone in the house is “on board” with the writing plan, then we have a built-in accountability system.
5. Designate Where You Will Work
Every writer needs a space — a place where the heart and mind and soul can meet with words. It doesn’t have to be fancy either. Just a desk. In a corner. With your favorite writing-aids close by.
Do you have a favorite pen? Keep a dozen in the desk’s drawer. Do you have a dictionary and thesaurus? Keep one of each within reach. Do you have notepads and post-its handy? Keep several close by. You never know when you might want to jot down a fleeting thought while typing.
Create your own writing space with whatever inspires you. But keep it simple. Eliminate anything that could prove a diversion. And remember: A writer’s space needn’t be expensive. It’s neither the tools nor the space that create art; it’s the writer’s mind.
6. Practice on Paper First
There is great value in writing with our hands. Writing is a highly cognitive activity. So when we engage our bodies, using our hands and eyes, we have a direct connection between our ephemeral ideas and the physical world. Writing in longhand produces an undeniable continuum, a seamless series of letters, which reflects an internal continuity between our brains and our hands.
Yes, we can type much faster on a keyboard. The speed and ease of word processing is an indisputable blessing of technology. I’m not suggesting we only write with pen and paper. But when we’re exploring ideas, I value the connection made with real ink on paper.
Brainstorming on paper is one of the best ways to get started writing.
On Becoming a Writer
To be a writer is to be a person of faith, someone who trusts in the writing process. The blank page isn’t mocking us. It’s inviting us.
Let’s get started writing today.
What tips do you have for getting started?