I’ve been making it a point in the last few months to partake in a steady dose of writing prompts, which has really helped usher solid material. Some of it I’ve shared on my personal blog. One thing that surprised me was how building creative writing skills helped in all areas of my writing.
An important concept that creative writing teaches us is to write first and edit later. For many people, myself included, there is the temptation to do both at once. This is okay if you watch for typos as you go and catch them in the first draft, but stylistic editing should come later.
Writing and editing use different parts of the brain, and trying to engage both simultaneously leads to weaker content. We can self-edit to the degree of analysis paralysis. Sometimes writer’s block can be overcome by simply giving yourself permission to write whatever comes to mind without reservation. No rules; just get it out.
Remember: you can change it later. The important thing is to get the frame work down now.
If you do this enough your intuition for good writing will improve, and you may find yourself editing less later than you’d expected. Your best work is often the unexpected stuff.
Another thing you can try if you’re drafting article content is to type it in a program like Word first and copy it into your blog later. Aside simple benefits like safety from an internet glitch losing the whole post, this psychologically primes you to be freer with your thinking. Writing it offline says “I’m just putting some thoughts down; I don’t necessarily have to share this.” The pressure is off, whereas if you’re composing it in WordPress for example you’re already committed to publishing it. I’ve found this method helpful for getting through writer’s block, and it did end up producing shareable content.
It’s important when you’re on a roll not to interrupt it. Some writers don’t stop for typos or misspellings and just focusing on getting all the ideas out as quickly as possible. This lays a solid foundation for a second pass to do some editing, and tweaking is a lot easier once the “remember everything I wanted to say” part is taken care of.
In the spirit of not interrupting a your focus, getting rid of distractions while you write can make a big difference as well. A lot of these distractions seem inane, like having Facebook or your email open in another tab. If you’re like me you’ll have a sporadic compulsion to check to see if there’s anything new, especially if the phone buzzes to say there’s new email.
This can seriously derail your train of thought. My advice is to close all these things and plan a time later to take care of them.
I’ve even found that listening to music on headphones while writing gives a sense of isolation that is very focusing. Experiment, and stick with whatever makes you more prolific.