Now that I've been writing for some months, I've started to notice a few things that foster inspiration and facilitate the work.
But I've also spotted things that produce the total opposite effect on me. Today, I want to tell you about some of these pitfalls.
Picking a wrong way to store the idea
Have you ever had a great idea for an article but never managed to write the matching post?
That happens to me frequently. I have this great idea while I'm running, driving or working. I pick up my phone as soon as I can, and add it to my list of blog post topics so I won't forget.
Until recently, I never had a second thought about the way I name those new items. I often use what I think would be the title or a short sentence that summarises the idea.
By analysing my practice and when I tend to struggle, I found out an existing correlation between the name I gave to the idea in my list and the difficulty in writing a full article about it later.
The kind of names that engender the biggest difficulties are the ones that give the answer right away. When I skim through my list, searching for something to write about, said names already indicate the solution.
Therefore, the idea seems too easy and self-explanatory. It feels like simply tweeting the title would be enough to deliver value.
In order to prevent that from happening, I henceforth try to write my ideas as questions I will later answer in a longer post.
Outline the post too specifically
The second trap I have identified and want to share with you today is outlining. Even though it can be very tempting to write down right away the outline of a future blog post or the best sub-ideas you want to include in it, I've found that this can kill motivation later on.
I see several explanations to this phenomenon.
First, by having done the creative work when outlining the post and finding great elements to include, you have already had the rewarding feeling of finding something interesting to write.
Second, you've done all creative parts and are now left with coating. You're about to spends tens of minutes to think about the best ways to express what you thought about. Writing sentences, deleting them, writing them again and editing them. Even for someone who enjoys writing, this isn't the fun part.
Lastly, speaking for myself, it makes it tougher to find the right flow for the article. Chances are your first outline won't be perfect right away. You might want to make it evolve while writing. But having this existing template becomes a rigidity and a supplementary obstacle to the creative process.
That's the reason why I challenge myself not to write too many details about a future post. I prefer keeping specifics in my head, with the risk of forgetting some, but by doing so, I'm also giving them room to grow and change. Never underestimate the power of unconsciousness.
Something is worth mentioning though. If you're writing on a research paper or a long document, it's perfectly fine to define a structure beforehand. As a writer, it's up to you to weigh what kind of preliminary work that must be done.