Setting up your writing practice

The hardest part of writing is beginning.  Staring at a blank page is just not motivating!

So before you begin, just push back your chair a moment and think about why you’re writing this piece. What’s your connection to the topic? Do you feel called to write it, or is it an assignment, or a client piece? Is your desired outcome to inform and inspire people? Or to go beyond that and activate them to change the world – or at least a small part of it?

Remember that writing is about honoring your voice (or your client’s voice). It’s about clarifying and communicating in the most direct, thoughtful, and persuasive way. Your job is to convey meaning and share a fresh perspective.

When I’m getting started on a new piece, I find it helpful to read before I write. If I’m writing an article, I’ll research the topic to get my mind in gear. I look for key phrases that resonate – language that is especially vivid or agile. I write down these phrases as I continue my research. Well-chosen words energize me.

Another trick to getting started is to write better emails. If you choose your words with care and precision, you’re on your way. Writing begets writing, no matter what its’ purpose.

Of course, having a comfortable and conducive place to write is very important. If I’m beginning a new piece, I need quiet. So I’ll go to a library and sit by other writers. There are also excellent writers’ rooms in most cities. DC Writers Space is a small, collegial, shared workspace with individual desks and soundproof panels. Everyone is tapping away, so writing there is contagious.

I do my best writing in the Writers Lounge at Hera Hub DC, a collaborative coworking space where authors and entrepreneurs come in and get a lot done. For me, the difference between writing at home or the library, and writing at Hera Hub is significant. There is something about being around other professionals on their laptops that is very motivating and cheering.

You’ll know what works best for you by your productivity. If writing in your kitchen or at your desk works for you, great. Keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re like most writers, you need a consistent environment that has minimal distractions and just enough stimulation to keep you alert and engaged.

Lastly, be sure to set up a schedule for writing that is reasonable and achievable. Are you most alert in the morning, after a run, or late at night when all is quiet? Keep to a consistent schedule and commit to your writing practice.

You will become a more prolific writer. And your voice will be stronger and clearer on the page.