We take a retrospective report, this time with the prospect of various viewpoints.
When we look back at our own history, it only makes sense now. It’s never lucid at the time. Today’s mirror emits a story that can’t tell a lie.
While the future prohibits knowledge, gathering experience increases one’s attentiveness toward ambient hints. Age is didactic — it compels us to notice and thereby prevent the patterns and vices we originally pursued.
The creative part of us gets tired of waiting. Or just gets tired.
We may have to live things twice in order to figure out what to do next. The coexistence of both hope and despair pushes us through the messy middle.
From the cave to the smartphone and onto the next magical widget, the fun is in the hunt to use the tools of today to look back and figure out what’s on the other side of the rainbow.
When you fall into writer’s block — a myth, by the way — you should move freely between devices, formats, and even different places in order to shake out of it. Here’s one recommended writing approach I encourage you to try:
First, start writing on paper to help generate ideas. Anything goes. Then type out what’s worth keeping on to your phone to finesse your text. Better yet, throw the first draft onto different apps like WordPress (read why I recommend WordPress for blogging here), Byword, Bear, or iAWriter and then process it for grammar through the Hemingway App or my favorite writing assistant, Grammarly.
Write everything out on paper
Type your notes out on your phone or computer
Copy-paste written text into an app like Grammarly for proofreading
Repeat until it starts to feel done in your head. If it’s handwritten, type it into a computing device. When you are close to done, print it out on paper. Sit somewhere else with your favorite pen and edit your work harshly. If this piece is important, let someone else edit harshly.
That’s right! Print it out and edit it in a different place altogether. Some writers think better to the hum of the coffee shop, JK Rowling included. Others need absolute silence, preferring to stare at a wall so that the only work to look at is the one being created in the mind’s eye.
Write with intent to publish
Do you do your best proofreading after your writing is out there in the wild?
Write with intent to publish. Hitting the publish button forces you to scrutinize your work more closely. If you’re lucky it’s a blog post you can go back and edit. If it’s a tweet or an email, you might be fat out of luck.
The writing process is a messy one that includes not only different formats but also different writing environments. Sometimes a great sentence starts on paper; other times it starts on your smartphone. Just be ready to review it a few times before you hit publish.
Sit and think about what you want to say. No computer. No pen and paper.
Because writing requires daily practice, doing it can get boring and predictable. It helps to have a system of hacks to drive the writing habit along the way.
Whether you’re writing a book, a blog post, or in a journal, writing is the most efficient way to purge your thoughts from the darkest and dormant corners of the brain. Writing is like talking to your therapist, a bicep curl that strengthens familiarity with your mind.
“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively. For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order.”
Hunter S. Thompson
You don’t have to be a published or aspiring author to write, nor do you have to be a student. Writing is a system for coping with the vicissitudes and celebrations of life.
As David Ogilvy once said, “People who think well, write well.” People who write well think well because it’s hard to clarify thoughts. The writer’s main challenge, therefore, is to find ways to keep on doing it.