Even in today's TV and video-dominated world, writing is still at the heart of real communication, engagement and persuasion - all crucial activities in business. In this article therefore, let's briefly explore how you can summon up your writer's heart - even and especially if, you don't think you have one.
Most folks have already endured a lifetime of self-criticism: it comes with being human. Although sometimes, a little self-criticism can be useful as a tool, during the early, fragile and highly creative, process of writing, any unfavorable judgment is like acid rain: you're simply better off without it.
Editing in depth, is for another article, another day. Right now, I want you to think about how you can best release your raw thoughts and ideas.
Whatever you do, if you put pen to paper, someone somewhere will criticize you for something. So instead, at the birth of whatever creative project you have the courage to follow, give yourself the precious gift of: freedom.
As a majestic bird seeks out warm air currents, likewise, allow your thoughts to flow freely, to swoop, dive and explore the land of your imagination and to wander where they will.
Getting Started Tip
When first starting to write an article, a book, a speech, or in fact creating anything with your mind, don't try to over-analyze too early on, what you're saying. Above all, don't' criticize what you do! Resolve to silence your inner critic with a mental sledgehammer and take no prisoners!
Why so important? Answer: how can you produce new "flowers of inventiveness and creativity" while at the same time you're beating yourself around the head with mental stick?
Did Freud Unknowingly Reveal This Powerful Writing Secret?
Freud, the noted psychologist, suggested that in order to "harness the unconscious", we should set ourselves mentally free. Good advice. So take decisive steps, early on, to silence your built-in critic.
Yet even if we train ourselves to be especially vigilant, our inner self-critic can still be incredibly accomplished and persistent at finding ways that urge us to be anxious, to stall our flow of imagination and creativity.
Two of the most effective ways your self-critic operates come in the forms of making excuses and putting off taking a decision. For example, how about:
- "I'll just fix this shelf first ..." or
- "I just need to research this part further first ..." or
- "I don't want to risk making a fool of myself, so I'll just do this first ..." , or
- "I won't feel right if I don't make this perfect first ...", or
- "After I've tidied up, I'll get back to [insert project name here]" ...
- And so on.
No Peeking Now - and Why
Furthermore, when gathering your first thoughts, resist the urge to reread your early drafts, even for a "quick peek". Here's why: you're setting yourself up to open the door for your self-critic to enter.
Besides, in the "mental nursery", whether your piece is entertaining, trite or simply brilliant isn't particularly relevant at this stage. We wouldn't expect a baby to walk as soon as she is born would we? So remember, one step at a time.
Tools and Techniques to Help You Create Structured Sentences from Nothing
To capture your early thoughts, beat your inner self-critic, and release your creative gems, consider using the following "tools":
- Work out ways to fight off distractions, that prevent you from achieving your writing goals. Experiment with different approaches to find what works for you.
- Do set yourself deadlines. Constantly perfect how to meet your deadlines.
- However, sometimes, if you just can't get started, or if your muse leaves you, throw all deadlines away. Sometimes, you keep deadlines and sometimes you ditch 'em. Do what works for you and allows your creative juices to flow.
- Resist the urge to allow excuses. However, ditto above.
- These "opposing" tips are all about finding out what kind of patterns work for you best. Some people like structure, rigid timescales. Others like freedom, chaos, not knowing what the outcome will be, or when it will emerge. Know yourself.
- Write quickly. Edit slowly later. Your creative mind often runs much faster than you can type. Find your flow and go where it takes you.
- Write on scraps of paper if you want. Any writing medium is fine so long as you can record your "fresh" thoughts quickly. Good ideas can be particularly elusive and gone in seconds with a moment's distraction. So lock them down ASAP.
- Write when you feel most empowered. If you get a "thought-stream" while walking your dog, get your ideas on paper double-quick!
- Write when you're fired up. Emotion is a powerful motivator. Use it.
- Always have a notebook and pencil close by. Or carry a smart phone with recording capability, a dictaphone or other sound recording device.
- Write on the spur-of-the-moment; consider breaking your normal routine. Do something wacky. Write when you normally wouldn't even consider writing. Write when you're irritated, downright angry or even when you're tired (that works well for some authors).
When to Invite Your Inner Self-Critic Back In
Later however, once you have honed your thoughts into some kind of interesting sequence or pattern, a more detached self-assessment or reevaluation becomes worthwhile; essential!
By following this overall approach, you can prevent yourself from rejecting creative gems too soon.
After you have captured your core sentiments, later, when you're ready to release your inner critic, the tone of your "inner watcher" is usually more structured, and asks more helpful, intelligent questions, like:
- "Perhaps that adverb isn't needed now?"
- "What about including an example here?"
- "Do you really think that phrase adds anything?"
- And so on.
Do you see the difference? Now, your new, inner critic is helping you, not impeding your progress.
You don't have to be perfect. You're not responsible for what people may or may not say about what you write - that's their affair. Ultimately, write for you and you alone.
So aim not to be timid, or feel small, or get anxious, or whatever other negative traits your mind can bring to the party.
To give the best of yourself, above all, understand your true value: that you are unique, more talented than you may realize, original and that you do have something worthwhile to say. Here's the big one: everyone has inside them something valuable, useful that only they can say in their way.
So don't hold back: slay your self-critic early on. Then bring it back to life when you're ready, providing it behaves :-)
Now why not say something on paper or on screen? Write from your heart - and you may discover another you that's been quietly standing beside you all along, or hiding inside, and like a butterfly, waiting for the freedom to fly!