Sometimes getting started is the most difficult part of writing. If I’m working on an article, I have to have a good first sentence or the writing isn’t going anywhere. If I’m working on a much longer project, like a training manual or a book, getting started can be so daunting it’s tempting not to get started at all.
Because I understand how tough it is to get going, I’ve created a list of business writing strategies to kick start any kind of writing project. Here are five ways to get started working toward that first, rough draft:
- Listing is a good technique to use if you’re a linear thinker and like to do all your writing on the computer. Just quickly list all of your ideas, hitting enter after each one, to create a long column. Then go back and organize the list by selecting and combining similar ideas.
- Headlining helps get the big ideas on paper. Write clear, complete headlines for each major section of the report, white paper, presentation, proposal, briefing, etc. Then go back and write each section.
- Clustering is like brainstorming with yourself. Take a sheet of paper and jot down all the ideas you can think of that are related to the topic. Circle the topics and draw lines to connect ideas that go together. The spontaneous, free association helps you see the relationship between ideas. Number the main topics in the order of importance and start writing at the first cluster.
- Freewriting is a great way to get started. Set a timer for 5-7 minutes and write nonstop until time is up. Get all of your ideas on the page without stopping to correct spelling, punctuation or word choice. This kind of writing frees your thinking and stops you from self-editing as you write.
- Creating an audio recording may seem like you’re talking to yourself, but it’s a way to capture ideas as if you were explaining the topic to someone else. This is a terrific technique when trying to document a process or make sure you have all of the steps in a set of instructions.
If none of these methods fit for the document you’re working on, I’ll include four more getting started strategies tomorrow.