Write like no one is reading!
Anyone who knows me has heard me talk about writing not for yourself but for those who will be reading your work…especially in blogs. I stress how keywords are a vital part of writing for online content, and that’s still true. But right now I’d like to talk about the actual process of writing. One of the biggest challenges to writing is getting over the fear that someone might read it. I don’t mean read it in that ‘selling millions of books’ kind of way. I mean read in that ‘what makes you think you can write’ kind of way. Being judged or criticized (even the thought of it) can be paralyzing.
I remember sending of script drafts to clients and as soon as I hit the send button, panic set in on me. “What if they don’t like it?” “What if they tell me it’s no good?” “Why in the world am I trying to make my living as a writer?” Then I would wait for the phone call or email and the longer it took, the worse I felt. So, you would think I would be relieved for the voicemail message from the client, right? Finally they’re getting back to me. Nope! Then I’d start to worry about all the feedback they might have. The silly thing is that 9 times out of 10, they loved the script and changes were minor. It took me a while to get over that…confidence in your own talent can take time to truly own.
But there was another phenomenon that I experienced as a writer. This happened when I sat down to write my first draft of almost anything. I couldn’t get started. I would try to edit as I went; hoping to anticipate client feedback and make changes to what I had yet to write. I finally figured out a way around this problem. I no longer started with Draft One…instead I would create a file name and list it as Draft Zero. That meant no one was going to read this. This was not the version I planned to submit, this was just me getting words on paper. That simple step saved me hours of writer’s block and because I was writing more, made me a better writer. I would just start typing. Now was not the time to think about grammar, nor did I pull out my thesaurus for a fresh word. If I wasn’t sure of what I was writing, I’d keep going and insert things in parenthesis like:
- (Change this word)
- (This feels awkward)
- (Check for real stats)
- (Make a better quote)
- (This ending is bad)
You get the idea, right? With my Draft Zero complete, I would take a break feeling a sense of accomplishment. Later, I would go back to edit what I’d done. Sometimes I surprised myself and disregard those little notes. “Hey, that isn’t so bad after all; I think I’ll keep that sentence just as it is!”
The point is that allowing myself a draft or version that no one would read freed me to actually get the writing done.No one was looking over my shoulder and criticizing. And, knowing an edit was in the wings before I submitted, I could write anything that popped into my head. I was no longer writing for future edits, I was in the moment and just writing. I wrote more, wrote better and made deadlines without breaking into a cold sweat. Okay, sometimes that still happens, but it’s better these days.
So, if you’re thinking about starting a bog or writing a book, now is the time. Go after your dreams! Express yourself! Get those Draft Zeros written today! You can edit for keywords, grammar and finesse tomorrow.