Want to improve your writing FAST? Today?
You can do it, when you build prewriting into your writing processes.
Listen up: here’s how to improve your writing, instantly
Writing is not typing. It’s thinking… BUT (and this is a big, big but) — if you spend your time thinking, you’ll block. Therefore, you need to do your thinking on your computer screen, or on a page.
Prewriting is thinking, on the page. It’s a warmup. It gets you into your “writing” groove.
Prewriting works. Prove it to yourself. For the next couple of days, each time you sit down to write, prewrite first. Not only will you write more easily, and avoid procrastination, your writing will improve.
Prewriting needn’t take long — just a few minutes.
It’s especially valuable on the days you feel frazzled, and as if you just have too much to do, to bother with prewriting. Over the years, I’ve learned that on days I’m frazzled, I’m unlikely to write well. I’m completely in touch with my inner editor, who convinces me that every word I write is rubbish.
Bless your inner editor… He might be right. Your writing may well be total rubbish, but unless you write that rubbish, you can’t get to the good stuff. Learn to welcome the: “this is JUNK” feeling. The good stuff isn’t far away, and prewriting helps you to get there.
Here are some prewriting tips.
1. Cluster: jot down words, any words
Clustering is fun. Don’t think about it too much.
Write a topic word in the center of your page.
Then write down any words which come to mind (especially if they seem totally irrelevant), and circle them.
Keep going, until your cluster makes sense — until you get an idea which is relevant to your topic. Write a few sentences about your idea…
Then start your “real” writing. You can include the idea from your cluster diagram, or not — the cluster’s purpose is to warm you up.
2. Create a word list (again, any words)
Unlike cluster diagrams, word lists don’t need a topic. You’re just free associating. You can write words, like Ray Bradbury, who wrote lists of nouns. You can write nouns, or adjectives. It doesn’t matter.
Keep writing, until you get the impulse to stop. Then go on with your writing for the day.
3. Journal. Journaling is a wonderful aid to all your writing
Journaling’s a waste of time. I journal a lot, and at least once a day, I get this unhelpful message from my inner editor. I’ve learned to tell him to get lost. Here’s why — on the days when I journal, I avoid procrastinating, and am simply more productive than I am on the days I don’t journal.
So I journal. I don’t necessarily like it, but I do it, because it’s a perfect way to prewrite, and to get more and better ideas.
4. Write yourself an email message
I enjoy this prewriting exercise. It’s a variation of bestselling author David Morrell’s “write yourself a letter” process. It works really well with fiction.
Before you start writing, open your email program. Be strong, don’t read your emails. They can wait. Start a new email message, and address it to yourself. (I write these emails on my phone. This ensures that these emails are short.)
Start with: Dear (your name).
Then write about your writing project.
Phrases to draw out your creativity include:
- Here’s what you don’t know…
- Something to be aware of…
- Here’s how to fix the problem…
5. Describe an image (draw your own, if you like)
Your creative self (right brain) is non-verbal. It “thinks” in images.
Grab an image, preferably an image that’s new to you. You can find images online at Pinterest, or on any art gallery website.
Describe the image.
That’s it. You’re done.
Start writing your project.
I’ve got a special secret (non-public) Pinterest board to which I pin any images I find which I find evocative. Having a selection of images from which to choose saves time when you use this prewriting process.
Bonus tip: get the junk out of your head, and onto the page — it leads to the good stuff
Your head, my head, everyone’s head… is filled with junk. You’ll find meditators talking about “monkey mind”.
That junk tends to pop up and destroy your focus when you’re writing. Prewriting is brilliant for getting the junk out of your mind.
On days when you have complete resistance to writing, explore the junk cluttering your brain.
Grab a sheet of paper, or start a new computer file. Start writing, with the phrase: Here’s what’s bothering me, and stopping me from writing…
Please use these prewriting tips. They work, and they’ll improve your writing today, painlessly.
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