😬 Hate Writing? 3 Hacks You’ll Love
Never be paralyzed by a blank screen again
A client and I were brainstorming ideas for him to write about when he interrupted me:
“This is all very well and good, Deb, but we have a small problem,” said this CEO who could stand up in front of a large group of people and speak without batting an eye. “I hate writing. Absolutely hate it.”
Hey, I get it. I’m a journalism school grad, I worked as a professional writer for more than 20 years, and I still can get the willies when I see that cursor blinking away on a blank screen.
You too, maybe?
Even if you only occasionally experience brain freeze when it comes to writing, I’ve got 3 awesome hacks for you that are sure to get things moving, whether you’re working on a blog post, a business presentation, your next TEDx talk, or that dating profile of yours. (Hey, those are ALL about consciously creating how you show up in the world!)
Here are some techniques inspired by neuroscience to cajole that beautiful brain of yours into coming up with the goods:
🧠 Hack #1: Step away from the screen and take your brain for a walk.
If you’re sitting trying to write something, could be you’re stripping some gears in what brain science geeks called the “Task Positive Mode” — which means that neural network in your brain that I call your Inner Manager 👩🏽💼 is all about the task at hand, yet the creativity seems to have flown the coop.
You know how you get epic ideas when you’re in the shower? Or driving? We’re going to tap into some of THAT instead.
Those bits of brilliance float to the surface when our brains are in the “Default Mode Neural Network” — you’re on autopilot with your brain alert and waiting for the next job to do, meanwhile allowing it some breathing space to relax and romp around freely and connect different dots. I like to think of this neural network as your Inner Muse. 🧚
So yeah, you don’t have to hop in the shower (I mean, you could, but it’s going to make the next hack a bit tricky) — what I often do when I’m feeling stuck writing something is get outside and go for a walk.
You’re gonna go on what I call a Mind Wander. Take your phone. You’ll see why in a minute.
🧠 Hack #2: Become a benign dictator.
Have you ever noticed that with some of the best writers, when you’re reading their stuff, you can almost hear their voice in your head saying the words? That’s because they’ve got a VOICE. They have mastered the art of having their writing reflect their personal communication style, which can be as distinct as a fingerprint.
A really, really great way to bust through a brain freeze and get to some splendid ideas expressed in your own delightful voice is to actually USE that voice. By which I mean, dictate some free-flowing ideas into your phone for later consideration and tinkering.
Please note I’m not talking about dictating something from start to finish, like some Mad Men character dictating a letter to a secretary. Noooooo. This is about walking along, and when some random idea related to your writing project floats to the surface, you press “record” and capture that puppy.
Keep walking. Look around. Breathe. Have another idea that you’re not sure fits. Record it. Have another idea. Record.
By the time you get back to that desk of yours, you’ll have a bunch of ideas recorded, and you’ll likely have unplugged the pipes so that more are close behind.
What now? You have a couple options. If you dictated your ideas into, say, the Notes app on an iPhone, you’ll have something that you can “share” with yourself in an email. Then you cut and paste that verbiage into a working document, and off you go.
Alternatively, there are awesome services out there that will transcribe any voice recording, and do it faster than you can say, “Miss Fletcher, I have some dictation for you.” I’ve used Rev.com a lot, but for this purpose, I highly recommend Trint.com, which does automated transcription for only 10 cents a minute, i.e. dirt cheap. And lightning fast. It’s not perfect transcription, but you don’t need it to be.
Paste your Mind Wander musings into a doc, and all the sudden you’ve got some fresh material to work with! Thanks, big, beautiful brain!
🧠 Hack #3: Forget writing that epic opening line…start in the middle and get some shiz on that page.
If you’re stalled out trying to create a just-right opening line or paragraph, you can work yourself into a little writing funk if you’re not careful.
That critical, never-quite-pleased editor that lives in your head (without paying rent!) will sense a leadership vacuum and take over.
Naw, we don’t want that. Instead, start with a bit you think you can at least take a decent stab at. For example, when I was writing this very piece, I started by writing some close-enough headings for the 3 hacks. Once that was done, I committed to saying just a few things about each one. By the time I got there, I was halfway home and the rest gets so much easier.
If you’ve used Hacks #1 and #2, you’re way ahead of the game already with an array of raw material sitting there waiting to be used.
Start playing with little sections, telling yourself this is no harder than rearranging pillows on the sofa. You’ll find that as you get some momentum going, new ideas will start peeking over the edge of your desk and want to come play.
Give yourself full permission to write badly. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, or even halfway there. Tell yourself you’re just sketching out ideas, getting some shiz on the page, and you’ll go through and edit and revise later.
I kid you not, that is how I write pretty much everything. I sweet-talk my brain into playing with me, nothing serious, and before we know it, we’re almost done and my Inner Manager can take the wheel and bring it home.
So those are the hacks. Cool, huh? I use ‘em all the time, and they work.
And now we’re gonna get a little deep.
I’m going to go a little philosophical on you for just a sec and provide some context for why it matters that you get those ideas of yours out there, and that you do it in a way that’s uniquely you:
Don’t give that inner critic air time—remember, he’s not politely paying rent up there in your head, he’s just trashing the place like a rock star at the Four Seasons.
Take a page from Martha Graham’s book. Read that quote again, and this time let it sink in like it’s Martha talking to you across the kitchen table, looking deep into YOUR EYES.
If you don’t share what you’ve got—including some ideas you don’t even know are waiting in the wings for you to invite them onstage—the rest of us miss out. And you miss out on the satisfaction of creating and sharing them.
Do you ever struggle with writing? What do you find helps? Please share with the rest of us, won’t you? I’d love to hear, and so would others.
With love and moxie,
P.S. If it’d make a difference to have a trusted guide help you discover what your soul wants to say…that’s something I love providing. Check out my Soul Spa service, or Moxie’s Mission 2.0. I also provide content coaching and consultation. Reply to this email and let me know you’re curious, and we’ll chat. 😊
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