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Become a More Productive Writer With These 6 Hacks

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 20/10/2015 Elena Prokopets

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Your muse has moved out and left no forwarding address. You are staring at a blank screen trying to figure out how you will meet your deadlines - three of them actually. And this is happening far too often - topics on which to write and literally nothing flowing to fill the page.
You've tried all of the tricks that everyone recommends - take a break, take a walk, phone a friend, mop your kitchen floor - nothing. The dreaded writer's block - it happens to all of us, including yours truly.
You really should be writing, but ...
Words just not form into sentences.
Sounds familiar? Well, read on! I have some 7 really practical hacks that you can use right now without even leaving your desk.

1. Don't Start With a Blank Page

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It just "feels" bad to have a blank screen, and it is certainly much harder to get started. That empty screen is just intimidating.
Instead, start a writing task the night before, just before you go to bed. If you only get a few sentences down, when you open up that screen in the morning or whenever your writing time is, your mindset will be that you are finishing something, not starting it. I've previously written amount the magic effect of Zeigarnik Effect, which helps us finish the tasks in progress.
This may sound a bit crazy, but from a psychological standpoint, you are in a much better place. And the words will flow better. Suppose you have a post to write on personal finance. Your research is done, and you have a sketch of your outline. Go ahead and write up your first point. Close it down and go to bed. You will see that, when you fire up that screen in the morning, it will actually go must faster.

2. Stop for a Break in the Middle of Something, not at the End


This may sound counter-productive. After all, if you take a break, you have to come back to it, regain your focus and re-read what you have written so you know where you left off.
Yes, that is right. It may take a few more minutes when you return and re-read what you have written.
But refocusing will actually stimulate additional thought and ideas that might not have come if you were forcing yourself to finish a piece before getting up. Plus, it is the same principle as in the hack above. Stop in the middle, come back and finish and begin the next piece before you take a break again.

3. Have Several Projects Going at Once


While there are still huge controversial going around multitasking, when it comes to writing there is no rule that says you have to move from one task to the next in sequential order.
If you have 4 articles or posts to write, start them all. If you "stall out" on one, move onto another and come back to it. The idea here is that you will always be writing. This is far more productive than "stewing" over one piece and struggling to get it completed before you start the next.

4. Switch to Reading

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You may have done a pretty good amount of research for what you are writing at the moment. If you stall, however, go back and find sources you didn't read before, either on the topic itself or something related.
Julian Wright, content provider for small business blogs and Senior Writer at Cool Essay, told a great story during a webinar recently. She had a client in the real estate business and just couldn't come up with a topic idea for her next post. "At the time, I was also in the process of re-decorating my family room," she said, "so I got on a home decorating site to do a little research. As I was looking at design plans, it hit me. I could write a post on staging a home when it is put on the market. What I learned was that reading about even remotely related businesses can generate great ideas."

5. Pretend You're Writing an Email


If you write an email to a friend, you don't have to worry about your grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Write without concern for editing, and your words flow easily.
Instead of writing an article or a post on a topic, just as if it is a story for a friend. You'll get your information, thoughts and ideas out. Literally, open up the "compose" on your email and write to a friend. Of course you won't send it, but you can copy and paste it into a Word document. Now, you just have to clean it up a bit and you've got a great story!

6. Keep Ideas Files

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If you normally write in 3-4 general niche areas, you should always have a file for each, with topic ideas that you pick up from any number of places.
The reason for this is obvious. But where do you get those ideas?
•Use Feedly to organize content from online media publishers you reed regularly and receive short summaries on posts.
•Browse Topsy and Buzzsumo for trending content
•Check Quora, Reddit and LinkedIn groups for latest discussions and commonly asked questions.
•Write spin-off posts from the most popular posts you've published up to date
•Check out Google Trends and piggyback on popular trends.

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