The cursor blinks like it’s accusing you of not being a writer, not being able to communicate with the written word. Oh, if only you were in front of a group of people, you’d have no trouble chatting and getting to the topic you want to discuss. Maybe you’d feel more comfortable on stage, before a mic’d podium, with throngs of faces watching you with anticipation. Maybe you’d thrive there.
But there’s something about a blank page, about that cursor waiting with the same expectation as that sea of quiet and open faces that causes your whole system to go into deer-in-headlights mode.
As a teacher, part of my job—and when it works, it’s one of those beautiful eureka moments that I live to witness—is to help my students get their ideas out of their head. Many of my students confuse the struggle of penning their thoughts with not having ideas, or not having good ideas. One of the most common questions my composition students come to me with is: How do I draft?Continue reading
Anne Janzer is a writer, award-winning author, book and writing coach, and marketing consultant. With a background in working with over 100 tech companies, her original book, Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn, was written to help marketers manage nurture content in the world of SaaS and subscription-based services, an industry that has massively benefited from keeping customers on board rather than constantly having to seek out new ones.
Working with writers and marketers in this space for so long, she began to realize that what many of them needed was a guide to help them communicate more effectively. Hence her next best-selling book (and my summer of 2019 favorite book read), The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear, which combines her decades of writing experience with a deep dive into the cognitive science behind the writing process, with some great philosophical and mythological takes thrown in as well.
Her latest title, Writing to Be Understood: What Works and Why, focuses on the craft and science of nonfiction writing. And you know how we love the craft of content and writing around here! In addition to her informative yet super enjoyable reads on the writing process, Anne also has created a number of online courses to help writers communicate and improve their productivity, while also becoming a sought-after keynote speaker and conference fixture.Continue reading
Few of us enjoy working with someone over our head, constantly scrutinizing our every move. This is particularly true for creative endeavors, like writing. Broadly defined, a writing supervisor is a person who has a stake in the text someone else is writing, and as a result tries to direct the process.
Since writing is an inherently solitary activity—as a writer, you spend long stretches of time working alone in front of a screen, often remotely—a writing supervisor can’t physically supervise you the way one would a factory worker.
However, this also means that writing supervision can be more insidious. In other words, it’s easier to detect and defend against direct supervision; it’s far harder to do so against a subtle one.
This presents clear dangers to a writer. Put simply, you might end up losing control of your text, and nothing good ever comes out of that. But on the other hand, having a writing supervisor can also be an important asset if you know how to deal with it.Continue reading
I was a time management tutor at a university for two years. Most of the students who came to me for help described themselves as master procrastinators. These students were also highly intelligent, talented, and hardworking.
In fact, my students were often so driven that they could work on a project they enjoyed for hours without even considering the time spent. But for some reason, the half hour required to write a paragraph for a less enjoyable assignment could seem insurmountable.
When we think about our own procrastination, we often feel guilt. We criticize ourselves as disorganized, distracted, or lazy. But these descriptors aren’t accurate. If we choose to, we could just as easily point to instances in which we were organized, focused, and diligent.
This is because procrastination is not a character flaw. It’s something that is situation-specific, and we are all susceptible to it.Continue reading