I’m one to talk. About being a lazy writer, that is.
Some weeks I publish two blog posts, an audio blog and a podcast episode. Others, zilch—crickets have more to say to one another than my fingers do to the keyboard.
But I’m getting better. That’s why I’m sharing with you three hacks I’ve discovered that have kicked my lazy writing self into a less lazy writing self. And maybe they’re not truly hacks. Maybe they’re just a return to how great writers write and how not-so-great writers can still get the job done—with gusto.
1. Write When It’s Inconvenient
In all my 41 years, I’ve read countless bits of advice to writers on creating comfortable writing environments. Undertaking the task of “morning pages,” where you write first thing in the morning before anything else. Building a nook. Having a door to close. And all these tips were supposed to make me a prolific writer.
Instead, I’ve found that writing when it’s most inconvenient is how I'm the most creative. The fact is, we can’t schedule when we feel something about something. All we can do is respond to the call when the creativity bell rings. That’s why I drop what I’m doing and get to writing. Even if I’m on a deadline. If a client call is looming. It doesn’t matter. I write.
And when I write like that, in those unscheduled and most inconvenient moments for which my Google calendar would surely smack me around should it ever discover, the result is pieces where I have a strong point of view because I’m feeling something in the moment. And those are the pieces my audience latches onto like a shark to an unlucky swimmer.
In the world of online content, there’s nothing wrong with chumming the waters with the blood and guts of the realities of life and business as we know it. Which is why I have begun to …
2. Read More of Anything But Books
Step away from the self help and business/marketing sections at your local bookstore or on Amazon. Hands where I can see them, please. And ditch the print magazines (for a moment) while you’re at it. I’m not saying they’re bunk (as I’m a lifelong bibliophile and such would be blasphemy). I’m just saying they’re not going to make you a less lazy writer—they’re going to make you more lazy.
Reading books and magazines is a passive process—they command your attention from cover to cover. But you need something shorter, more incidental to amp up your writing flow.
Twice a day, I pour through online news sites of varying ilk. I find headlines that catch my eye, click through and devour. At least once a day, I discover a point of view so moving that I myself am moved to write. Whether I agree or disagree is of no consequence. The thing is, I’m writing. And it’s there that I become un-lazy.
When you’re in the midst of running your business, life is happening all around you. If you’re tired of reading the same 12 blog posts every week from the same 20 industry poobahs, just stop. Instead, read voraciously of the daily news and plights, triumphs and quandaries of people who are unlike you. Therein, you might find that the words begin to flow.
Sometimes, however, you’ll find it’s not convenient to inconveniently write about these topics that inspire you. That’s why you should …
3. Carry a Notebook
No, not like this. I'm talking about a bound thing that fits in your bag. And no, it can’t be the Notes application on your smart device. Pen in hand, ink to paper. Because when your brain connects your thoughts with a pen and then to paper, neurons fire. Hearts swell. Ideas flow. And that, my fellow lazy writing friends, is what you crave—those words and thoughts you’re terrified to lose if left alone in the Arkham Asylum called your head.
Notebooks can be whipped out unapologetically mid-power lunch or between train stops. They can peek out during a meeting and be slipped gently back in your bag. The most important thing is that your ideas no longer have a chance to escape.
At the end of every day, I review my notebook, surprising myself more often than not with what I thought was worthy of remembering. And every now and again, there’s a gem, so I end my day by writing, inspired solely by a thought I pledged to never let escape through writing it down.
If you find yourself a writer (or needing to be one) and are hamstrung by your professed laziness, congrats! You and I can go grab a latte the next time we’re supposed to be writing (because we all know how we hate to be told what we’re supposed to be doing).
OK, not really. Instead, write when you're inspired, ready to screw up your schedule in the name of thoughts you can’t contain. Shelve the books, and get up close and personal with the digital screens of daily life. Devour opinions contrary to your own so yours become more clear. And most important, put ink to paper, and never let a brilliant idea slip into the ether again.
You just might find that your lazy writer self, by leveraging your lazy, might become more prolific—with purpose—than ever.
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