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Top 7 Ways to Conquer a Blank Screen
By Gerry McRae
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You must compose a simple memo, a sensitive letter, or an article for publication. You stare at a blank screen not knowing how to start. This is OK. Most creative writers often face the same challenge. Except, you are a business manager with no training as a writer. Here are seven of the top ways writers match mood and energy level to differing writing assignments. Select some or all of the following initiatives for each composition task you face.
- Copy relevant parts of a previous or similar document.
Start with inserting key words or phrases, you can form sentences and paragraphs later. Hopefully, the juices, fingers and ideas will start flowing. Persevere with whatever energy you have.
- Make an outline.
Leave spaces for inserting ideas as they pop into your head. Begin at any point of the outline. Jump around to fill in spaces until all are filled. Later, edit for continuity. It is quite common to find the introduction is the last to be written.
- Write any paragraph.
It could belong anywhere in your document. The most common error is thinking you have to start writing at the beginning. Start with phrases or a series of keywords from your research. You may have one or more thoughts which you know must be in your composition – start with that. Blend these into proper sentences later. Jump from one thought or paragraph to another once the ideas begin to flow. At least, immediately write another paragraph which may or may not follow from the first.
- Write anything,
relative to your topic or not, for a specified period of time. Teachers will have students write anything on paper for ten minutes. The only stipulation is all tips of pens must continue to vibrate for the entire exercise. Students could vent their feelings about the exercise, write any gibberish that comes to mind, copy or rewrite material from the previous class or any developing thought. Surprising outcomes often result from these sessions. Why not emulate this in the privacy of your cubicle.
- Exploit the advantages of the electronic Copy/Paste era.
Release yourself from those ancient practices of dictating organized thoughts to a machine or a typist. Gone are the sheets of paper with confusing hieroglyphics, crossouts and insertions.
- Tell someone what you plan to write.
It seems expressing an idea in a conversation stimulates the writing action. As you speak the ideas begin to be formulated and flow together. As with most of our casual conversations, they may be disjointed at first, so if you are not near your writing station be sure to jot some notes to use as starting points for when you return to a more appropriate composing place.
- Maintain a set of templates
for recurring assignments. Think of journalists who follow the same formula for all news stories. You will probably rely on templates more if you are required to compose frequently or you tend to pull a blank just before a deadline. Create templates with creative expressions from your better compositions. Include templates of opening and closing paragraphs. And do not forget the standard who-what-where-when-why-how questionnaire.
Gerry McRae has combined the management theories he taught at colleges and universities with practical applications he developed while running several small businesses. His fictional Uncle Max dispenses this wisdom for small business entrepreneurs and managers.
Article Submitted On: December 02, 2008