I am going to start today with a disclaimer.
I love teachers.
In a previous life, I was very nearly one myself. A past partner was one. I learnt French at University with a bunch of them.
You can’t say I have it in for the teaching profession.
However, something in schools traumatises a lot of people. They go in aged 4 or 5 full of enthusiasm about what they’re going to learn and come out at 18 convinced they can’t write. Even though they’ve been taught to do so.
It would be too easy to say that it was a teacher that was too heavy with a red biro.
People are more complicated than that.
It may be that they just find writing daunting, so they fall back on an “It’s scary/I can’t do it/I don’t need to do it” scenario.
That’s a conclusion that’s hard to dislodge.
But, I’m going to challenge it, you CAN write.
You might need practice, but you can write.
Anyone can write.
I’d like you to try something. Stop reading now and go off and write 100 words on what you did yesterday. I’ll wait while you do it.
There you go. You’ve written.
Your beliefs control you
If you came out of school or even University believing you couldn’t write, it’s not surprising that thought has stayed with you. I thought just the same for years – and I did a degree in History. Couldn’t get away with not writing on that one.
Beliefs are rather like habits; they become ingrained. After a while, they become inalienable truths, and we can’t and don’t want to kick them.
I have a few strategies for you to help you believe you can write. They won’t make you Shakespeare, William Faulkner or Stephen King; that’s not the point. They will, however, help you believe that you can be good enough to write for your business.
1. You are a writer – believe it.
That little exercise you just did? That proved you could write and even if it wasn’t any good, you wrote something. You’ll get better the more you do it.
2. A messy draft is your friend.
How do you imagine great writers write? Does it all come out in a stream of consciousness ready to publish? Of course not.
Your words will not come out perfect, and it doesn’t matter.
Forget about grammar, punctuation, or structure. Just write.
Record what is in your mind; take baby steps.
You’ll be more overwhelmed if you expect to write good paragraphs from the start. When you got your draft, you can go back and revise all you want. The next day.
3. Talk to someone (or yourself).
Are you one of those people that prefers talking to writing? For many of us, chatting is the most natural thing in the world and much easier than writing promotional copy or a business proposal (even if the details of the dialogue is the business proposal itself).
Talking things out (and recording them on your phone if necessary) will help you sort out details and arrange your thoughts into an excellent flow. It’ll also help you develop your style. There’s no need to re-write War and Peace!
4. Cut and paste is a beautiful thing.
The great thing about writing on a computer is that you can re-position words, sentences, paragraphs on your draft like puzzle pieces.
That alone should make your writing flow easier.
5. Practice baby, practice.
Whenever we achieve mastery in anything we do, we started off quite rubbish at it. We all have to start somewhere, and the only way you get better at anything is to practice. Writing is no different.