Today’s guest post is by Ed Cyzewski (@EdCyzewski). You may remember him from a previous guest post at this site, Why Self-Publishing Is a Tragic Term. Ed’s latest e-book is available as a free download on Tuesday & Wednesday of this week—visit Amazon to download Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity.
After years of doubting that I was writer, I finally gave myself permission to write when we moved to a small town in the country. I did so begrudgingly. Since I wasn’t a lumberjack or a waiter, my only hope for a career became my writing.
There was one problem: I was rushing out unfinished ideas.
- I queried book proposals, articles, and guest posts—cranking out one failure after another.
- I faithfully wrote daily blog posts—a brain dump of sorts that few people read.
I struggled mightily. I put pressure on myself to come up with something good NOW.
While permission got me started with writing, I needed a safe space to create my posts, articles, and proposals and develop them. It was one thing to take myself seriously as a writer, but I didn’t start taking my writing itself seriously until I starting writing in a safe space before hitting publish.
Creating in a safe space takes away the pressure of criticism and failure, while also giving yourself the time you need to polish your final draft. A safe space lets you experiment, revamp, and tweak your work.
Here are some safe spaces where you can develop your next writing project.
1. Capture Ideas in a Journal
Every Sunday morning I open my journal, and I look for something very specific: writing ideas. If there’s nothing more than a half page of notes from the past week, as is the case sometimes, then I haven’t carved out enough journaling time to capture ideas where I’m free from pressure or distractions.
Whether I’m sketching a blog post idea, a new chapter idea, or a promotion for my latest book, my journal is the safest place to experiment and to let first drafts percolate.
2. Plan Blog Series Weeks in Advance
By giving myself time to plan my blog series in advance, I can let ideas develop and evaluate them with greater clarity. A blog series is a great way to keep your writing focused and to dig deeper into important ideas while also removing the daily anxiety of, “What will I write about?”
From daring posts on controversial issues to posts about personal struggles that are hard to put into words, planning a series in advance lets me push the envelope without pushing away readers.
3. Draft Blog Posts Ahead of Time
My most popular blog posts usually take a week to develop. At the very least, I always set up my blog posts a day ahead of time in order to refine them. Even if you write a rough draft the week before you write the actual post, your writing will be sharper and clearer.
4. Print Book Drafts for Editing
Maybe this is my personal quirk, but there is something incredibly intimidating about editing a book chapter on my computer. I have a hard time deleting, moving, or rewriting parts that clearly don’t work because the “delete” key feels so final.
There’s something about editing on a printed page that feels safe. I’m free to experiment, annotate, and delete without watching the words disappear into the white void of Word. If a major rewrite doesn’t click, I always have the first version to fall back on.
5. Wait a Week for Major Edits
It has taken years to teach myself the patience required for editing an article for publication or a final draft of a book chapter. The defining moment happened when I reviewed some failed articles in an old folder one day. I was horrified that my “best work” was so rejectable.
My introductions flopped, ideas were sprinkled about haphazardly with meager organization, and transitions led from one idea wreck to another. When it’s time to edit an article or book chapter, one to two weeks are critical to give myself enough space to honestly evaluate what I’ve written before shipping it to an editor.
My best ideas and best writing need space and time to develop. While you can sometimes wing it on a tight deadline and produce something incredible, I need to give myself some space offline—and extra time—to shape ideas and make edits that bump my writing to the next level.
Now it’s your turn. What strategies do you use to give your writing the space it needs to develop?
Editor’s note: Ed’s latest e-book is available as a free download on Tuesday & Wednesday of this week—visit Amazon to download Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity.