March 18, 2013 | Alyson Stanfield

Finish Your Writing Project Using These Secrets

Want help finishing your newsletter, catalog, blog post, book, or even your artist statement? Listen up.

My friend and writing coach, Cynthia Morris, shared a secret with me.

Print It Out

Really? That's it? “Print it out” is all you have for me?
Yep, it's that simple. Or at least it's a good first step.

Organizing Your Writing
How I organized on my office floor one of the lessons for the No-Excuse Art Biz Bootcamp.

You see (and the rest of this is me talking, not Cynthia), we get so caught up filling the screen that we lose the heart of what we're doing. We forget the value of seeing the text in a different format.

Touching the words on paper gives us a fresh perspective.

Here's what I do:

  1. Write as much as I can on the computer before stuck-ness sets in.
  2. Print out the text.
  3. Use scissors to cut sections that seem misplaced.
  4. Lay the various sections on the floor and organize them until they make sense.
  5. Number the pieces in order so that I can rearrange them in the computer document.

Bonus Writing Secret

Here's another secret: Read your writing out loud.

Aha! Yet another sense. We've now added sound to sight and touch.

Before my book went to press, I read the entire thing out loud, including the credit pages.

In a similar vein, I love recording my class lessons because the process forces me to read the text out loud. I always find necessary changes during this process.

That's it: Type it, print it, rearrange it, and speak it.

Oh, and one more thing . . . Finish it!

12 comments add a comment
  • Sasha

    I also read things from the end to the beginning…it helps to do it this way because you can see if things make sense within each paragraph. Again, it just gives a new perspective on the piece…

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Sasha: I’ve heard of this trick. Never done it because i can’t imagine it. Do you do one word at a time or one sentence at a time?

  • Miranda Gerber

    Thank you for the sound advice! Reading a piece out loud also helps to find “favorite” words and phrases, or words we use over and over without realizing it. Since English is my second language, reading out load really helps me a lot!

    • Alyson Stanfield

      YES! It also helps get rid of “just” and “really” and “very,” which are way overused.

  • Ellene Breedlove Davis

    Writing without editing I use too many the’s and and’s, etc. It’s easy to catch this when I read aloud.

    • Alyson Stanfield

      I didn’t even mention how important it is to write without editing first. It’s valuable to have that flow.

  • Travis Apel

    I cannot emphasize enough how much these tips are helpful! Perhaps I can add another layer. Have someone else read your writing back to you. Or, read it out loud and record it as MP3 audio file.
    A counselor had me record my positive reinforcing thoughts into a recorder. I listened to them daily. The results were helpful in building my self-confidence. Hearing your own voice gives you an interesting point of view. For me, it was strange at first.
    An additional tip that may help….use different words for similar rhetoric. I read my writings and found that using the same words lacked originality. Being mindful of curbing repeated vocabulary can make a difference for written pieces sounding more unique.

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Travis: It’s obvious you are constantly improving. Good work!
      I took voice lessons when I started recording a podcast. SO helpful. Now I can stand to listen to my voice. Still don’t love it, but it doesn’t grate an longer.

  • Barbara Muir

    Great idea. Printer ink has been on my list for weeks. The idea of actually cutting out parts you’re editing with scissors goes back to the origins of the words cut and paste, and is how it was done. Plus reading aloud is a wonderful idea. Thanks for this.
    XO Barbara

  • Phil Kendall

    I’m a great fan of MS OneNote sort of type away…then spell correct….put lots of spaces in…cut & paste until perfect…use different pages for different parts of the subject… etc.
    Using paper is not environmentally friendly

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Phil: I always print drafts on the back side of used paper. I know it still uses ink, but sometimes you just have to print it out.

  • […] what you have learned will make it more real. There is great value in seeing on paper or on the screen what you have […]

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Designing a 5-Star Customer Experience
Designing a 5-Star Customer Experience
Designing a 5-Star Customer Experience