Sometimes the act of writing can be a challenge.
Perhaps you’re like me and have chronic pain, or you get brain fog, or you just sit in front of a blank page and it suddenly becomes the most intimidating thing in the world and you can’t possibly form a sentence anymore.
Maybe it gives you flashbacks of being at school or university and the fear of being judged takes over. This is really common and can be hard to shake.
There are ways around it, though. It’s about tricking your brain into see what you’re doing as different, and not associating it with all those bad memories and that fear that’s holding you back.
It’s also about finding accommodations that work for you and your health situation, regardless of what that is.
We all lead busy lives, and sometimes writing and marketing can slip by the wayside if we feel that we’re too busy or something else is more important.
So here are some ways to make writing easier, whatever your situation may be.
Sometimes the way we speak doesn’t reflect the way we write. And while great writing is a hybrid of how we actually speak, and something more polished, it’s easy to default to the lessons we were taught when we were at school. This can lead you to a more formal writing style that doesn’t allow you to connect with your audience as easily.
Dictation is a great way around this. It’s also really useful if you struggle with things like RSI or chronic pain in your hands. It allows you to free up your hands while you work so that you can rest them and still get stuff done.
Dictation is also good if you get ideas when you’re out and about. Most of us have our phones on us when we’re out now, and they all have voice memos on them, or note-taking apps that can transcribe what you’re saying so that you can keep your hands free.
You’ll probably still need to do some level of editing, especially if you have a British accent, as many dictation programs aren’t great with British accents.
However, it’s still much better than it used to be, and when it makes your life that much easier, I feel like it’s worth it.
For instance, I dictated the first draft of this blog post into Microsoft Word. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but it’s by far the most accurate dictation programme I’ve used. And it’s free.
I’ll be experimenting with a different dictation software soon, so I’m excited to see how that turns out and how it will use AI to learn as I continue to use it.
Record a call and transcribe it
If you struggle to write, or come up with unique turns of phrase, recording a call with you and a friend/colleague, then transcribing it, can be a really useful way to find something that’s unique to you.
I was discussing book editing with a friend the other day, and she started to explain her approach to book editing.
Little did she realise, the way she was describing it was her USP—and it was something she wasn’t communicating on her sales page.
I told her to write down what she’d said because it was gold…
…but because she’d said it in the moment, neither of us could remember quite so clearly how she’d explained things.
We got the gist of it, and that’s what counts, but sometimes doing concentrated calls that are designed to help you think and clarify can be really useful. Particularly if you have a list of questions to answer and you can just talk without thinking, explaining what your approaches are without the pressure of worrying that it’s for sales page, or a piece of content, or an interview.
This recording is only for you, whoever is helping you, and any team members you may want to share it wish, so there’s less reason to feel self-conscious.
Start with notes then flesh them out
This is how most of my blog posts start out life. In fact, it’s how the majority of content that I create starts out, from social media posts, to podcast episodes, to books.
I find that jotting down ideas, then organising them and fleshing them out, really helps me clarify my thoughts, spot gaps, and not feel like I’m carrying around all these different ideas in my head that I’m at risk of forgetting.
I use Apple’s Notes app to jot everything down as I like that it syncs between my devices.
Recently, I’ve started taking notes on my remarkable 2 tablet too, especially if I’m in the mood for writing by hand or feel like the change of medium might be good for idea generation.
Write by hand
Our brains work differently when we write by hand. According to several studies, hand writing is better for learning, memory, and creativity.
That’s why many of the plots of my novels start out life as a bunch of Post-It notes on our coffee table.
I can then rearrange them, look for holes, spot things that need more detail, and even notice plot points that don’t fit as well as I’d hoped they would.
It allows me to see the bigger picture in one place, something I wouldn’t be able to do looking at a screen unless I had a 50-inch monitor…which I don’t want.
This can work just as well if you’re working on shorter pieces or sales pages or when you’re working on anything where something just doesn’t quite feel right and you’re not sure why.
Printing something out and scribbling on it, or cutting it into different sections that you can rearrange and look at more objectively, gives you a whole new perspective on it.
You could put it somewhere you walk past a lot, meaning you can glance at it as you’re going past without the pressure of looking at it constantly and giving yourself a headache. This technique will still keep it at the front of your mind without you consciously worrying about it.
Write somewhere different
When we work in the same place all the time, our brains can start to run on autopilot.
Switching it up to work somewhere new feeds our brains’ desires for novelty. This then helps us generate new ideas, or spot things when we’re editing that we never would’ve noticed otherwise.
I often write and edit in different places, or on different devices.
So, I might write a full draft of a post on the sofa, then go upstairs and edit it on my computer, or vice versa.
Before Covid, I used to like editing in a local coffee shop, as it was just the right level of noise for me to be able to concentrate.
It also had a different enough atmosphere and location that it forced my brain to see everything around me from a new perspective, including my work in progress.
Talk to your dog/teddy bear
This is something I see a lot of video content creators discuss, as it’s a way to ensure that they’re looking at the camera.
It’s actually really hard to stare at a camera when you’re doing video, particularly if you’re not very comfortable on camera.
Having an icon, a sticker, or a toy to talk to can really help you focus where you’re looking. It’s also really good when you’re trying to think.
Sometimes, you don’t always have a person around to use as a sounding board, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk aloud.
If there’s no one for you to talk to, there’s no one to judge you for talking to a pet or inanimate object either.
Pets can be remarkably good listeners I’ve found. They may stare at you a little bit blankly, but they’ll never judge you.
And they can be great inspiration sometimes too. I’ve got many content opportunities from our dog Millie, and I’m sure there are many more to come.
Talking to pets—or an inanimate object that hopefully has a face rather than a pencil or something—is a bit like talking to someone on a call and recording it. You can think aloud, you can brain dump, you can word vomit without any judgement or pretence.
You may find it’s less pressure to do it this way when you’re not talking to someone, or you may find that’s a little bit weird.
I’m not going lie, I did find dictating this blog post a little bit awkward, since I was basically doing it staring at the Netflix screensaver on the TV with Millie curled up on my lap. But the more I dictate, the easier it find it, and the more I find it helps me with my writing and the pain in my hands.
If, after all this, you’re still not sure you want to write regular content for your business, I’ve got some slots open for new clients. Find out more about my content marketing services.