As someone who has been a serious writer with professional ambitions since 1989, and as a writer who has written at least 5,000 pieces in various formats and genres for himself and for clients as a b-to-b copy writer, ghostwriter, and “demand journalist” , I have learned a great deal about being a productive writer and content producer. About how to do it and keep doing it. About what not to do. About how to prevent or move past burnout. About how to keep the creativity and curiosity fired up.
There is much that stymies the ambitious writer and the writer who is just setting sail into the career. There is much that seems obvious because nearly everyone is able to write. But, once you start doing it seriously, it becomes obvious that much of the obvious isn’t so obvious. And writing stuff that other people desire to read, and should read, may be simple but it’s hard. Sometimes, it’s grueling.
So. The first important principle of remaining productive, creative, and curious with writing is: write, and write, and write.
I.E.: Just do it.
This seems simple enough, but anyone who has tried real writing knows that it’s anything but simple. You want to think ad infinitum, because if you just think a little more…a little more…If you stare out the window just a little longer…the perfect words, the perfect sentence, the perfect paragraph will all come to you! That demon-editor looking over your shoulder the whole time will go away then!
Well. There’s nothing wrong with a writer thinking. That’s unquestionably true. There are writers (like me) who think about as much as they physically type or push the pen. I pace, sometimes. A lot, really. I go for hikes. I talk to myself (answer myself, too). Kevin J. Anderson writes whole novels with long, long hikes and a voice recorder. (The typing comes after he’s done with that.) And every writer is working hard when he’s staring out the window.
But when all the staring and thinking and pacing are over with, you still have to put words on the paper, be that paper wood derivative product or digital. The Muse is still on hiatus.
So. If you find yourself pacing, and thinking, and staring, maybe reading some more and then doing the cycle over again, and the clock ticks away and there are no words on the paper…just sit down and start spilling.
That’s it. Just start writing. Put one word right next to the other. Put in the punctuation where you need it. Decide when you have reached the end of a paragraph and it’s time to indent or make a line spacing break. Then do it all again, until you have reached The End.
If you have ever to this “just writing” where you just start pouring, you know that you usually end up with a pile of junk made out of ink (be that literal or digital). Which is why you’re scared of doing it. But. Once it’s done, you have material. You have thoughts and feeling which been been bodied-forth. Now you get to cross things out, insert new things, write in the margins, hit Delete, and rewrite stuff. When the page is blank, you can’t do any of that. No materials. Nothing to actually work with.
If you never just sit down and write, then you will never really know what you’re thinking. You have to know what you are thinking before you can repair the junk and body forth something in words that other people should find valuable.
Just do it.