Friday, 9 March 2012

Article Writing: are you a sprinter or a marathon runner?

I’m not a runner; in fact my PE teacher, and yes I know how old that makes me sound, told me I seemed allergic to exercise.  If I'd had more courage I'd have told her I was only allergic to the kind she promoted, like running on the spot.

But I do like watching athletics and guessing at the psychology that draws people to different events.  I particularly like long distance events because of the need for strategy and planning over a period.

In any kind of running, mental attitude is as important as physical ability.  Particularly in distance running like marathons. It’s you against the road.

You might ask what has that to do with writing?

I link it not only to the actual writing but the activity that drives the writing. Article writing is now one of the strategies that we have to use if we run any kind of business.

And just as in running when a marathon has to be divided into sections, so you’re not overwhelmed by the distance, so your writing has to be broken down into the things you have to write. Marathon runners often talk about ‘hitting the wall’ at a certain point of the race. That might be the equivalent of a lean spell with your writing when it seems like you have to force yourself to write anything.

All writers face dry spells; certainly I do and having recently gone through one maybe it will help if I offer you the solutions I found. To a large extent it’s back to the psychology of writing. If you’re running a marathon  there will be times another single step might seem impossible. But runners keep going because they’ve executed the routine of running a marathon so many times that stopping becomes unthinkable. In writing sometimes you feel ‘written out’ when it’s tiring to type and think of the words you need.

Just as there are strategies in running, so there are equivalents in your writing.

  • Take on plenty of fluid and energy drinks
Take this literally and make sure that it’s not your body’s tiredness that is causing your mind to refuse to work for you. Physical tiredness causes mental exhaustion so make sure you have a balance of activities and you’re not slumped over your computer for too long. Get up, stretch and go outside for fresh air or if that’s impossible open a window. Drink plenty of water. Mental and physical tiredness can also result from physical dehydration.

  • Limber up for your writing
Depending what you’re writing, you need to carry out research. Not doing this basic work before you      start writing means you’re not prepared. Running a marathon without regular and sustained training          sessions would be at the least foolhardy and at worst possibly fatal if you’re not fit.

Speed and fluency in writing comes from being in tune with your subject and knowing what you want to say. Research underpins your writing and gives you the confidence to allow the words to flow.

  • Avoid the boredom
Boredom kills creativity. Stone dead. If the passion has gone out of your thoughts about your business, product or service then you’ll find it difficult to write effectively.

Being in business is tough. We can admit it and know it’s certainly not all good. There are many down times too. Accepting this natural cycle means that you will be better prepared for them.

I came across a great strategy in the work of David Bach some years ago. If you really feel that you can’t achieve anything productive, then have a clear out or tidying session.  Creating space, even if it’s only on your desk, shifts the energy around you and allows a shift in your mental attitude. I don’t know why it works but it does. Maybe it’s because you see a clear desk and then you see your way clear to do something. However small, it’s a break out of that trough you’ve sunk in and then you’re away again.

Being passionate about what you do is the strongest strategy in writing. Keeping that energy level high is vital to keep your writing positive and optimistic.

No comments:

Post a Comment