A friend and I were talking yesterday about how to start writing something you have to write. In their case it is a thesis so it is a pretty important thing to write, something I have never written and will never need to write, god bless the internet and not needing to have qualifications. They asked my advice on how I write so much in one sitting, I write about 3,000 words on average before something shiny starts to distract me. I couldn’t really tell her much at first, but I then I got to thinking about how I go about writing articles for clients and then I realised, I do actually plan these articles out.
You see, the stuff for this blog just comes out of my brain, through my fingers and onto the page. I have no idea where it comes from, it just happens and then you lovely people torture yourself reading it. But the work I do for my clients actually needs research, it needs an intro, a middle and an end. It can be really hard to even know where to begin looking at some topics and projects as a whole so the plan below works two-fold: it helps you break the topic down into easily researchable nuggets and it also gives you loads of little starting off points.
Let me explain a little better:
When shit really isn’t flowing and you really need it to cos the deadline is looming, something I do a lot to get shit flowing on the harder things to write is to try and come up with headings (even if you don’t end up using them) for example, if the topic was on the history of pirates the headings might be:
Introduction (to the article)
pirates, the early days (info)
pirates, the middle days (info)
pirates, the older days (info)
the death of the pirates (info)
weren’t the pirates a bunch of cool bastards! (conclusion)
This is obviously a joke article which will probably feature on the blog at some point cos I love pirates, but you get the idea. Now all you have to do is treat those as little starting off points you know the answers to and the starting points you don’t know the answers to. You can then also treat each one as little nuggets to research. Start with the headings that you do know the answer to and by filling out the bits you can, that should influence the ones you can’t.
It’s best to start with the intro as this tends to be all in your head, no research needs to be done, it just needs to set up the info you need to put in later in the article. Then you could do the conclusion, this is again mostly your own words and it will allow you to make the middle follow a path to the end.
You have to make sure it all flows together like a pretty little stream afterwards, of course, but you have to do that anyway. That works for me in cases where it’s hard to find a starting point, just find a point where you can start from within the thing you want to write.
I hope this helps with your writing, if you have any tips for writers or clever people doing their thesis, leave them in the comments. Happy writing.