This is the second post in a series designed to help you overcome challenges inherent in writing. While the focus of these posts is on report writing, the techniques can be adapted to writing almost anything (like event marketing reports). To that end, some of what I have put here may seem unorthodox in a professional setting, but I urge you to give it a try and see if you don’t notice a positive difference.
Earlier, I posted about the value in creating and using an editorial calendar, especially for programs with a lot of reporting.
Traditionally, the editorial calendar has been used as a strategy for controlling content. In essence, it is a pre-planned schedule that maps the focus of each report ahead of delivery. Having your topics identified ahead of writing your reports will answer the question, “What can I write about?” thereby reducing anxiety and saving valuable time.
As I alluded to in that post, there are other approaches that can help to improve your report writing. The one I’d like to focus on in this post is very straight-forward: A proven way to become a better writer is simply to write. This may seem like a no brainer, but it stuck with me because to simply write is not as easy as one might think.
It requires you to put pen to paper and let the thoughts flow, unfiltered and unedited. If you’re like me, this might push you outside of your comfort zone.
You see, when I write, I know exactly what I want to say, but sometimes I struggle to get it “just right.” As a result, I lose precious time on the first page, as I painstakingly draft the first paragraph, evaluate it, and then revise it at least twice to get it “perfect.”
I have come to realize that this approach can be counter-productive. I find myself wasting so much time getting to the final result that I lose focus on the supporting points along the way. To reduce the amount of time wasted and important but small points missed, I began forcing myself to write without editing, regardless of the report format or audience.
Start your day by jotting things down
I now start my workday by jotting down (or typing) whatever thoughts come to me as a way to de-clutter my brain. Sometimes these are things I need to focus on for the day. Sometimes they are points I want to communicate in a report or an email. Sometimes they are personal “to do’s” that pop up that I don’t want to forget, but I don’t want to waste brain power trying to retain them in my mind.
Increasing my writing and softening the volume of my internal editor has been an incredibly freeing, if not somewhat uncomfortable, exercise. I’ve been able to get my thoughts on paper more efficiently and the amount of time I spend agonizing over revisions has gradually reduced. It’s not a pretty process, but the act of creation can be overwhelming, whether you’re writing a professional report, a poem or a love letter.
As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
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