Writing Made Easy

Date: 12/20/2005

Here is a strategy that can help you anytime you need to write a letter, an article, a speech, perhaps even a book.....

Basically there are 3 stages to the writing process. If you concentrate on each one separately, you will find that it is much easier to write. This can save you time, energy, and frustration!

The first stage is thinking. Let your mind freely and creatively think about the subject you want to write on. It is good to do it in different situations and at different times because you will come up with different sorts of ideas. Have a small pad that you can jot down the various ideas you come up with. Avoid the temptation to rush this stage; take your time and really think it through.

After you feel that you have enough ideas you can begin the second stage which is writing. The goal here is to get it down on paper. Go for the big picture. You are not aiming for quality work at this stage so don't think too much. Just write.

After it is down on paper you are ready for the third stage which is editing. Now you can pay attention to details, make corrections, and strive for excellence. Some of the areas you will consider are: the flow of your text, the choice of words, spelling and grammar misstakes, is it clear and understandable (remember: you know what you mean, your reader does not), is the style appropriate for the audience, is it too long or too short, what could be done to improve it, etc.

You will want to go over it a number of times and make changes as you see fit. When you feel that it is good, show it to two friends. First show it to a "matcher". Matchers are people who tend to see how things are the same. This person will tell you what is good about the article and how you could make it better. Decide which of his suggestions you want to include and rewrite it.

Then show it to a "mismatcher". Mismatchers are people who tend to see how things are different. If he is a strong mismatcher he may tear your article apart (verbally, not literally). Don't be disconcerted; thank him! He will find faults, redundancies, inconsistencies, mistakes, redundancies, weak arguments, ambiguities--in short, everything wrong with the article that you overlooked. Consider his comments and make whatever corrections you feel are appropriate.

If you like taking short cuts, you can skip showing it to the "matcher". The article may be less excellent than in could have been, but it will still be good. However, "mismatchers", unpleasant as they sometimes can be, are indispensable! (see my article on "matchers and mismatchers")

Put your article away for twenty four hours. Then take it out and look at what you have written to see if you want to make any further changes.

The last step is to take pleasure in the fruit of your pen, pencil, or word processor. The pleasant feeling will make it easier to sit down and write when the next opportunity arises.

Give it a try! I find this strategy to be super-helpful. Most of us get stuck trying to do all three stages at once. After we have a vague idea of what we want to say, we start writing. Then we immediately evaluate and make changes. This makes it difficult to go forward. However, by sticking to this strategy you will find your writing goes much more smoothly.

(partly based on an article by NLP trainer and author, Michael Hall)

Please send me any stories you have relating to this article.