Do you feel your writing is sometimes more blah than brilliant? If so, I am going to share one of my solutions to this widespread writer’s woe and I guarantee it will give you more powerful writing every time you use it.
As writers, we are either in the throes of wild inspiration or slogging through what many creatives term “downtime”. While it’s easy to write with flair when we are balanced on the peak of a creative high, it’s not as effortless when we’re writing from the valley. What’s good to know is that even if it isn’t easy, it’s still possible to write well regardless of your level of inspiration.
What’s more, it is necessary. If you have a blog, your followers can’t wait for inspiration to hit you–they are looking for consistent postings upon which they can rely. Same goes for clients for whom you write articles, web content, or other publications: “I am not feeling it today” is not a good way to get repeat writing business. Even if you are simply writing for yourself— your memoir, biography, historical fiction, romance, fantasy, or fiction is not going to happen if you have to wait for your muse to come calling. Powerful writing can happen even without inspiration!
So what’s a writer to do when there’s no flow?Why, follow my three-step program for overcoming stilted, uninspired writing, of course!
Step One: Write
Write something. Anything. Pen to paper, finger to keyboard, blood to parchment — do whatever you must to get words on a page. Don’t worry about if it sounds right or even if it makes sense. Just. Get. Them. Written.
Step Two: Rest
Now step away your writing for a few hours. Twenty-four is good; 48 is even better. If ideas come to you during this rest period, write them down for safekeeping — we don’t want to waste any spark of genius. In the meantime, move on to something else and just forget about what you’ve written.
Step Three: Hear
Now for the fun part: Go somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed. Using a voice recording app (iPhone or Android) on your phone, the recording capabilities on your computer, or a good old fashioned tape recorder , read your writing slowly and clearly out loud.
Reading out loud will help you amp up the power in your words in several ways. First, you’ll begin to notice unnecessary words that are cluttering your prose. Like the “uhs” and “uhms” we hear during a speech, words like: just, that, perhaps, very, quite, really, actually, and more often clutter up written discourse and lessen its impact. What do you think sounds like more powerful writing:
I just want you to stop talking.
I want you to stop talking.
How about the next two:
It’s a game that we play.
It’s a game we play.
See what I mean? Like disruptive blips, these words can slip unnoticed past the writer — until those words are spoken.
Plus, reading your words aloud will help you get a sense of the coherence of your work. Have you missed a salient point? Is one of your passages weak? Do you need to add some description, research, or other information to make everything make sense?
Finally, vocalizing your passage will allow you to correct unintentional grammatical errors that often slip by even the most thorough editors.
But wait, there’s more . . .
Now that you’ve read through for your recording, play it back and listen. While you are speaking your words, you’re only half-focused on the passage. Part of your brain is being used to follow the words on the page, keep your place, and form the words. When you listen to the recording you’ve made, you can give your whole attention to the passage and focus on how the writing flows. Do this once while jotting notes on corrections and improvements on a hard copy, then follow it with a listening-only session. During the listening-only session, close your eyes and concentrate on only what you hear. Powerful writing (or writing that is uninspired) is usually quite obvious when you listen to it being read!
Try it and let me know what you think! Check back next week for Part Two and learn how this technique can help you get something written twice as fast (or even quicker!).