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© Ugur Akinci
Finishing an article, a book or a presentation is as important as starting to write it.
The enemies of half-finished writing projects are many. So are your “friends”. Here are five time-tested ideas to finish all your writing projects on time and in good shape.
1) Outline your work.
This is a must.
Start with THE POINT. What’s the point to the whole exercise? This is your TITLE.
If you cannot express your point or title within 25 words, don’t start writing anything because the chances are you have no idea what you are writing and you’ll get lost along the way. It’ll be yet another half-finished writing project sitting on your computer’s hard-drive.
2) Divide your writing into three parts.
Beginning. Middle. And the End.
Before putting a single word on paper, clearly see in your mind how you’ll start the project, how it will develop and how it’ll end. Roughly. You do not need to have a precise formula yet. Just make sure you have a general 3-part outline in your mind before you start tickling your keyboard.
3) Start from anywhere you like.
Sometimes trying to follow the linear beginning-middle-end path will freeze you in your tracks because your mind will jump to the end, for example, rather than starting from the beginning. If that is the case, by all means, go ahead and write the end first.
Don’t insist on linear writing if your mind suggests you tackle the project by jumping from one part to another. What’s important is to maintain the forward flow and momentum of your writing.
As long as you keep in mind the very general “landscape” of the finished project (Beginning-Middle-End) you can meander and stop by at any feature of that landscape you like. What’s important is you keep “walking”, that is, writing.
4) Create a Writing Calendar.
But not just “Start in May – Finish in July” type of calendar.
Much more detailed than that. An hour-by-hour and page-by-page or word-count-by-word-count type of calendar.
Say you will write a 1,000 word article. Write the first 100 words between 10 a.m. and 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Write the next 200 words the same evening between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
When you are done, put a big check mark right next to the calendar item.
That kind of calendar. And then stick to it. When you divide the task into such easy to chew and digest pieces, your productivity will soar.
5) Support your writing with multimedia and extra-media, if you must.
Perhaps listening to music is what you like while writing. If so, listen to music by all means.
If you write better at a coffee shop, grab yourself a latte and find a good corner to write at your favorite caffeine supply store.
I sometimes write really well with the TV on. The other day I wrote a great blog post while keeping an eye on Anthony Bourdain’s food show on CNN. You never know when the inspiration will hit you. Such music and “multimedia” act as “white noise” and paradoxically may help you concentrate better on your writing.
However there are many times when I must have absolute silence as well. Just go with the flow and do whatever the moment needs.
Balzac used to keep a rotting apple in the drawer of his writing desk. That’s what I mean by “extra-media”. If a fragrance, a texture, or an object stokes the fires of your imagination and productivity, hang on to it. Writing is a contact sport. Do whatever it takes to keep the doors of creativity wide open. Keep such “extra-media” nearby to help you finish what you’ve started.
(Free photo courtesy of unsplash-dot-com)