6 not-to-dos in writing

Just do it. But how ?

Writing is important. Mental boost for lateral thinking, great archive of thoughts for reflection. Coming from the infinite messy storage in one’s head, your thoughts become articulate and get a total new form when being written down. A soulful observer as a journal and brand representative as a website. The important roles which writing carries make it deserve a reasonable slot of time and mental effort. Surely it will pay off.

After 8 months writing intermittently from trivial blog posts to paid articles for websites, I gather for myself some writing rules as well as keep in mind useful advice of successful pioneers.

Don’t forget who is your audience

The first question to tackle is “Who are your readers?”. Except journal whose you are the sole reader, bearing in mind who are your audience is the first and foremost criteria. Any writing PEP talk should comprise of three basic questions

For whom do you write for?

For what do you write for?

How do you write?

Unless you can define your audience scope, the other criteria are totally off-track. Writing should be useful and get a specific message across, and to get messages across it pays off to know what your readers care about.

Don’t wait for the motivation

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Motivation is luxurious. Like painters who wait for that first paint brush for painting flow, waiting for motivation to come is a time consuming act. Motivation is a rich arrogant girl who keeps holding you up in appointments. Move on without her, then she will not take you for granted. Leave her behind then she will chase you back.

Similar to any creation process, you get focus while doing. Focus is a great magnet to attracts thoughts and motivation. With writing, the first not-okay paragraph can kill your motivation. It’s okay, let her die. Come back and save her later in the editing process.

Yet don’t let motivation go away

Like Jason Fried, the famous author of the book “Rework” with succinct and to-the-point writing, motivation can be a super energy drink for your work. Drinking it all the time makes our body take it for granted and de-react, yet once it a while when the boost come, ride with it. With motivation and focus, a whole lot of amount of work can be done in a surprisingly short time.

“Motivation, productivity, efficiency — these things are not constants. In my experience, they come in waves. They ebb and flow, and there is no sense in fighting it. They key is to recognize a productivity surge when it appears, so you can roll with it”

Don’t chase for perfect word combination

There are hell a lot excuses people can make for not writing or not continue their piece. One main reason I encounter myself is the lack of writing flow. A piece of writing should coordinate well and sound well together, and to get that decent combination, you gotta find the right fit.

Yet it seems like words love the hide-and-seek game. Sometimes I let it take me hours to write the first paragraph. “No it doesn’t sound right”. Or “not this word, not this adjective”. If you keep seeking for that particular word, writing flow will ebb like a cut out balloon.

Don’t forget you always have good dictionary beside you. Even native speakers get lot of difficulty in writing. I still recall Joe Ruelle, a Canadian expat in Vietnam whose writing sound much more natural than us Vietnamese.

Don’t look for that perfect writing space. But don’t settle, either

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At this very right moment I am in perfect writing location. A quiet island home stay with good coffee, wifi, open space, wind, fresh air. Trees, flowers, butterflies and lake. When I am bored I get to kitchen, make a coffee. When I am done with typing I get up, take the motorbike to trek in a mountain or walk on beaches to inhale inviting ocean air . A project with flexible timeline and no push.

Yet if always wait for the perfect space, I would have not done anything. Space can be right while mood is messed up. Many times did I go to super relaxing and beautiful cafes in the city and writing is still held up. After that, guilt from procrastination really puts a strong drain on mind.

Creativity needs a creative habitat, yet writing habitat itself is not enough. Don’t wait till you find that perfect writing location because that equals to limiting your creative ability, but don’t settle for a bad environment either.

Don’t forget the big picture

“Have hot heart but keep a cold head”. Yet in reality enthusiasm and rationalism are not good friends. You dive into writing till the first motivation gets burnt out then ask “okay what next?”. Not a good move. A writing plan and outline is super necessary to keep you real while riding with the writing flow. Paul Jarvis shared some of the questions he applies before writing anything.

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After many “not-to-do” they key point is still: just do it. And I am doing just the opposite: procrastinate current project to dive in this writing about writing, ha ha.


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