I’m not a writer. I don’t think of myself as a writer. I don’t enjoy writing lengthy anythings. And I loathe re-reading what I’ve written later on. When I was a kid, I tried to keep journals, diaries, and logbooks. You name it–I tried it. I’d always go back and tear out pages that weren’t “just right” or that were “too personal.” I didn’t like the idea of someone finding and reading it or me reading it years later and cringing and my own inner thoughts. I’m an adult now, and while I avoid writing things that are too personal, I do find ways to inject some writing into my projects. Here are 3 things I’ve found and used over the years to get me going.
Keep your tools simple.
The Hemingway App is a web based app that’s free and easy to use. Working in it helps me focus on keeping my writing simple and to the point. You just type up whatever you’re working on and toggle between writing and editing modes. The editing mode highlights complex or dense sentences, words that could be simpler, and a few other things. However, me being the second-guessing writer that I am, I write in editing mode so I can rewrite as I go. It’s been a tremendous help over the years and simple enough that I don’t get bogged down in formatting, sharing, or saving work.
Keep track of all of your ideas. All of them.
I use Google Keep to write down and bookmark ideas for new posts, links I think are interesting, or fragments of thoughts. Whenever I’m in need of some fire starters, I’ll browse my notes and see if anything jumps out at me. Sometimes following one of my old links will take me somewhere else, and I’ll have a new idea for a great post. For example, the one you’re currently reading. I didn’t sit down intending to write about writing, but I was staring at my bookmarks and realized how difficult it is for me to get started. So I decided to write about the things I use and do to trick myself into getting started.
Write about what you do, not what you know.
Something people usually tell you when want to get started writing is to “write what you know.” I’ve always thought that was cheesy and terrible advice. I’m also one of those people who feels like they don’t really know much about anything, so I let that keep me from writing much. Instead, my advice is to write about what you do. I browse the internet looking for great resources and interesting stories, so I generally write round-up posts. They’re super fulfilling for me, and I feel like I’m contributing in some small way. Sarah ponders about the design of every day objects, so that’s what she writes about. Focusing on writing about something that interests me feels less like I’m trying to be an authority and more like I’m just sharing my interests. Sure, maybe it’s just semantics, but it’s helped me get over myself and write!
Bonus Tool! EasyWrite is another web based writing app that limits you to the 1,000 most common words in the English language so you don’t end up using big, flashy words.
What do you do to get yourself started on writing projects?