You’re under the gun, but your brain is paralyzed. Mush. Frozen. Your expertise is a myth, your talents are on vacation, and creative juices have dried to dust.
You sit staring at the screen, immobilized by the pending train-wreck. You want to pull the covers over your head and cry yourself to sleep.
That was exactly me when I sat down to write this very Friday Briefing. I couldn’t even think of a topic! That’s the worst kind of Writer’s Cramp.
And then I realized that was my topic!
Here’s what works for me every time I suffer Writer’s Cramp:
1. Focus and prioritize. Allow no distractions.
2. Commit the time to get this done, whatever it takes. Allow yourself a short health break every hour, but permit no escape hatches.
3. Sketch a simple outline of exactly what you need to deliver. Any style that works for you is fine, but you need to get a visual of the job.
4. Start somewhere. Anywhere. If your work product must be persuasive, such as a legal pleading, write out your concluding paragraphs. In many cases, a serviceable title will get you going. Just start. The trick is to force yourself to get moving.
5. Be patient. Initially, you won’t care much for your developing work product, but as you keep grinding away you will begin to like parts of it.
6. Play with these good bits – move them around, fill in between them, revise them, write sequels and prequels. Soon you will see a cohesive entirety emerging. There is a magic to this-- it will inject the enthusiasm that was missing.
7. As you realize that you are out of the woods you will be enormously tempted to put the piece aside to attend to other important matters. Don’t. You will lose the momentum. Continue to fill and move and cut and revise and polish until you have a work product with which you could go public.
8. Now, if time allows, put your finished product aside and give yourself a good break, or even come back to it the next day. Fresh eyes will take your work from good to great. If those fresh eyes belong to someone else, so much the better!
Hope this helps! Send to a friend.
(Side note: when you are removing bits, don’t delete them; rather cut and paste them at the end of your work. They may come in handy.)
On a related productivity note, you may find my blog “A Toad Day” helpful. It’s also on LinkedIn.
Working together, we can make you a powerful communicator!
Norman Bowley is a communicator by passion, a lawyer and educator by profession. Thirty-six years of legal practice after ten years as an educator have equipped Norm to teach professionals how to communicate effectively and with power.