How to Be a Better Writer in the
Next 10 Minutes

Clock

Wanna be a better writer?

Wanna do it quickly and painlessly?

Here’s how in 4 steps.

1. Step away from the keyboard. Take a walk, put on some music, even do the dishes, whatever. Just get 10 minutes of you time.

2. Look into your head for all the things you’re saying to yourself that are making writing harder than you want it to be.

Are you doubting that your idea is good enough? Are you thinking that you don’t know where you’re going with it? Are you telling yourself that nobody will read or “get” what you’re writing? Are you telling yourself you don’t have what it takes to be a decent writer?

Take a good look and go as far as writing down the things you’re telling yourself.

3. Look at the opposite position, and find real world evidence to support it.

If you doubt that your idea is good enough, put yourself into the position that your idea is plenty good enough – and then find genuine reasons to support that. You’re fired up about the idea, you have a unique insight or you’ve seen people talking about it so know that people will connect with it, for example.

If you’re thinking that you don’t know where you’re going with your writing, take the position that you know where it’s heading or that it’s okay to not know exactly where it’s going. Then look for evidence in your experience to support that, such as:

  • You’ve written great pieces before, and this is no different.
  • You’ve done your research so you have just what you need to write a coherent piece.
  • You know that you start writing knowing 50% of the content, and find that the rest comes to you as part of the writing process.

This isn’t about making things up to make yourself feel better. This is about finding genuine evidence, based on your own experience, that gives more space in your head for the reasons why you can than the reasons why you can’t.

4. Give yourself permission to write how you write.

It’s a safe bet that you’re your own worst critic, but placing your confidence in the things that critic tells you is not going to make you a better writer. Quite the opposite, in fact.

By finding real reasons that support you in writing things your way you can let yourself off the hook, and that frees you up to write some great stuff.

Place your confidence in the reasons you can write great work, and just watch what happens.

About the Author: As a leading confidence coach with clients right around the world, Steve Errey has a reputation for talking sense and getting results. Get more from him at The Confidence Guy.

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Comments

  1. Interesting take … I often find myself stymied by the thought that I am going to have a hard time writing something, when if I could just get away from that attitude and into the process, things would flow so much easier!

  2. Great steps to break through writer’s block, and find the insight and confidence to write better and faster. Great content.

    But, why start an article about writing better with the non-word, “Wanna?”

  3. Write…then make it right.

  4. These are helpful suggestions.

    I like #1. My favorite escape from the keyboard is a hot bath! I dive in when I’m stuck or panicked over a project. Water therapy always gives me a fresh outlook.

    I also like # 2. I’m a proponent of “good enough” copy. Writers are very hard on themselves–until the deadline hits, we never stop refining, tweaking and polishing. The copy never feels “good enough.”

    But the truth is, for many client projects, well researched, carefully drafted, edited copy IS good enough. Many clients don’t really need–or want to pay for–rock-my-world innovation.

  5. Wonderful tips, Steve.

    I use / have used variations of all of them and they really do work. #3 is particularly effective.

    Thanks for putting this potent mix of writing confidence and creativity boosters in one “place” for us. :-)

  6. I agree with Lorraine. Most clients don’t want rock-my-world innovation, so it really depends. If you’re writing for someone else you can minimize the pressure and aim for slightly above the bar that’s expected. When it’s your own words you’re wrangling, then aim for the sky and turn your prose to perfection.

  7. Thanks. I especially needed to hear #4.

  8. Great suggestions. I’m just trying to get into writing more – both with a book and a blog, but I struggle with each thing you mention above. Thanks for the insight, I’m working on implementing your ideas.

  9. Good tips… Yes it is time to think other than KEYWORDS.

  10. Great advice – sometimes the very obvious one is needed the most. Like step back and write down what you have already thought about.

    I just used your method to pin down this one:
    Hail to the king – why media and content production will survive

    Keep your well done posts coming!

  11. Great advice. I think the key to all of this is to get beyond your fear of failure. Everyone is worried that their work isn’t good enough when many times it is. If you get beyond that thinking than you will be successful.

  12. Great tips, thank you.I find number 3 really good for me.Giving me permission not to be perfect, make mistakes and still having passion to write

  13. Really great post!

    I’ve run into this situation countless times. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Type – lol
    “Just get 10 minutes of you time.”

  15. LOL – I meant typo… me too!

  16. My favorite way to get past a block is to go outside with a drink, a pen, and a notebook. There’s something about writing by hand that really helps me get started with whatever I need to write. Changing the scenery also helps.

    There’s so much less pressure to be “perfect” when you’re sitting outside, enjoying the warm evening air, and sipping on a glass of iced tea/juice/cold beer.

  17. We think #4 is one of the best pieces of advice for new bloggers who already doubt themselves and their writing. We encourage our clients to persevere and have confidence in their work.

  18. I’m going to add another related suggestion–write differently than you are used to. I recently stepped away from my computer, where I do the lion’s share of my writing and creative work, began writing on large easel pads and my white board. I began using my whole office, pacing back and forth, adding notes one sheet of paper over here, another over there, and then the whiteboard. I had stuff all over, but the act of moving around and writing in a different manner really opened things up for me. I became almost manic, and got a tremendous amount of great ideas down on paper in a short period of time.

  19. Under category #1, I’d add “have a conversation with a friend or colleague.” I was stuck on a project this morning, and over coffee a friend gave me a quick tip (which she didn’t think would be helpful). It was great to have a different perspective, and I was able to complete the project.

  20. Great post, Steve.
    I’ve been a writer off and on throughout my career, mostly writing clinical documentation. I’m new to sharing my expertise through writing articles, however. I’ve found that the biggest barriers to my own personal success at writing is what you posted at number 2, Look into  you head at what you are saying to yourself that makes writing harder than it needs to be. What can help is to learn how to shrink the influence of the negative self talk and open up your head to replacing those thoughts with positive self talk, or affirmations, instead.
     
    I teach clients how to manage their stress, anxiety and anger management through accepting positive self talk, and practicing it until the positive thoughts come more easily than the negative thoughts. It takes time, persistence and repetition, but that’s not surprising since that’s how the old thoughts got into our heads in the first place.

  21. This is a very zen approach to writing. I like.

  22. I’m sure you can give us more tips on this topic. The ones that you gave now are really interesting. I like it. More..more..

  23. Great suggestion. Sometimes writing for me can be a daunting task but what I do is keep myself fresh and just start writing. Usually I will catch my rhythm and be able to write something decent :)

  24. Great tips. All of us get writer block on occasions and this was a timely reminder to take a deep breath BEFORE trying to move forward stressfully.

  25. i think you did right by putting great emphasis on point 3. generally there is a mental bloc when you write too much. To get fresh perspective you need to shed all cache in your mind. I think your tips are genuinly relevant in that direction.

  26. Kecia Bailey :

    These are awesome, I especially needed reinforcement of #3…and I tend to need it often lol!! I’ve adopted the “why not me?!” slogan and hope I keep it and remember the reason behind saying it. :) Seeing it as a tip here is yet another reminder. Thanks!!

  27. Insightful post. I particularly agree with doubting ideas and style. I think it is so easy to talk yourself out of writing something just because you’re not sure on the idea, rather than writing it and then deciding. I find myself changing the style and purpose once i start typing, it’s pondering that creates a block.

  28. Brilliant brilliant post.
    The blog I am working on has been going a month now, and far from being stuck for words I have so many ideas its untrue. However, wondering if any of them are good enough for others to read has been a slight worry.
    All that was needed was some wise words such as these and now I feel more confident about my ideas. Thanks!

  29. Good advice that I will take back to my keyboard!

  30. GREAT tips! I find that if I run for a bit before writing, my mind has time to kick on, blood gets flowing and all that. Or even if it’s cleaning my pad before I sit down, that helps. As I’m moving ideas occur to me more often than if I’m just sitting waiting for inspiration.

  31. This sounds like a quick and painless way to get through writers’ block, which happens to me frequently. I haven’t touched the novel I’ve been writing for the last two years in months, and I feel so guilty about it. My excuse is that I don’t have the time. This may be just what I need to get back in that zone!

    But, why start an article about writing better with the non-word, “Wanna?”

    @Mary Cullen: Writing is all about getting the attention of your audience, and those first few words are crucial. It’s arguable whether “wanna” is a word or not (dictionary.com defines the word as “want to” or “want a”, while merriam-webster.com has no idea what I’m talking about when I try to search for “wanna”), but it serves that purpose of grabbing attention. It definitely got yours. (:

  32. Simple yet beautiful tips there, Thanks for sharing. I need to take those 10 minutes out now.

  33. I always run into writers block. I feel that I don’t write well and that way of thinking add to the problem. I think next time i will get up from the desk and take a small time out.

  34. As a copywriter I have to confess, I struggle with getting it done faster and better. I have to say that Steve hit the nail on the head with this one. I liked what he said and will certainly put the principles he taught into action! Thanks.

  35. Great article for boosting confidence.

    Also, Lorraine put it across beautifully in her comments. Clients generally do not want “rock-my-world innovation.” As long as they feel positive about the copy achieving desired outcomes they are OK with what you present. Clients usually know what they want even if they cannot put it across in words.

  36. ” If you doubt that your idea is good enough, put yourself into the position that your idea is plenty good enough – and then find genuine reasons to support that.”

    Thanks so much, I needed that affirmation. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and concerned with what other people will think.

    Keep rockin’. Bob @onehalfamazing

  37. When you wrote, “1. Step away from the keyboard. Take a walk, put on some music, even do the dishes, whatever. Just get 10 minutes of you time,” are you saying to be thinking of anything BUT your writing project?

  38. I love this post. Giving yourself permission to write the way you do is a very important step. Not easy to implement, but I’m trying.

  39. Good advice, especially the first tip. I do my best writing while walking.

  40. I do find that listening to music helps a lot. Sometimes when I don’t know what to write or where to start, doing something else often bring in some inspiration.

  41. I do a similar thing. I write my posts in tranches…the introduction and then a few bullet points about what I want to say and then add to them each day until they fill out. Taking the dog for a walk in the meantine definately provides me with the good karma that I need also.

  42. @Heidi: Getting past that thinking is the key to it – trust the process!

    @Mary: Thanks, and I’ll use “wanna” if I wanna :P

    @Shane: Wise words.

    @Lorraine: You know, reading through the comments I think I’ve been a little misunderstood. These aren’t intended to be stand-alone tips, but a 4 step process that will make you’re writing better by getting you out of your own way. There’s value in each step by itself, but the value of following the 4 step process is much more.

    @Mary Anne: You’re welcome :D

    @Desiree: Permission is so important.

    @Holland: Don’t work too hard, these are intended to be simple!

    @a_usman: Exactly.

    @Daniel: Glad you found it useful.

    @Greg: Spot on, step past the fear of screwing up and you’ll do some great work.

    @Patricia: Nobody’s perfect, join the club.

    @Josh: Thanks fella!

    @jayh: No typo, that’s what I meant.

    @Michelle: That sounds lovely – I just might join you outside :D

    @iGoMogul: Grand, but again, my intention was that this is a 4 step process, not 4 separate tips.

    @Art: Love that – movement is a great way to get the body and brain working together. Thank you.

    @Susannah: Such a simple idea, thanks.

    @Dave: Yep, finding more effective things to replace all that negative stuff is the way to go.

    @Bamboo: Not sure I’d call it zen, but glad you like it :)

    @Dumb: Okay, I’ll do some more.

    @Sam: Getting into that rhythm is a great feeling isn’t it?

    @Andee: Agreed, the trick is to stop yourself before it happens.

    @Personal Dev: Thanks. Good to hear I’m relevant!

    @Kecia: You’re welcome.

    @Jenny: Absolutely, get out of your own way and you’ll be able to write some great stuff.

    @Danusia: You’re very welcome, good to hear you’re bursting with ideas.

    @GirlieGeek: Get to it!

    @Lilian: It’s clearing some space that seems to work, and sometimes the quickest way to do that is by changing things physically.

    @Elizabeth: Yeah, I’ve seriously neglected my novel too. I hold my hands up to that one. Thanks for watching my back on the ‘wanna’ thing!

    @Fas: Did you get your 10 minutes?!

    @Debt: Sounds like a great idea to me.

    @Steve: You’re welcome.

    @Vishal: Yeah – stop focusing on ‘perfect’. You’ll never get there.

    @Bob: Forget what other people might think, just do what you’re best at.

    @Steve: Exactly. Step away and step back so you can breathe and think clearly.

    @Nathan: Just be sure to notice when you’re getting in your own way, and make it okay to just write, even if it’s rubbish!

    @Chris: A lot of people here finding physical activity useful. walking is great thinking time and really useful for connecting ideas together.

  43. Thanks Steve for this blog entry, I like your tips.
    In my opinion, one writes more “good” blog entries when hes relaxed and not in stress.

  44. I’m just trying to get into writing more – both with a book and a blog, but I struggle with each thing you mention above. Thanks for the insight, I’m working on implementing your ideas.

  45. Wonderful tips, Steve.

    I use / have used variations of all of them and they really do work. #3 is particularly effective.

  46. Wonderful tips Steve, i am going to start putting this to practice.

  47. The best thing you can do (in my opinion) is to write headlines or bullet points everyday in a notepad, ie. Economy is in double dip recession, 20% of people don’t go to the dentist, schools don’t teach enough Math, etc.

    After a week (and obviously based on your niche) you should have enough headlines to be able to write 4 or 5 really good articles with headline grabbing content.