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Don’t Overthink It

April 21, 2010
The writer, the written and the writing tool

Image by Ravages via Flickr

It’s 2 p.m., and your [boss/client] just told you the piece you thought was due next week, is really due by 4 p.m. Luckily, you’ve already done the research and interviews, and you’re ready to go. Or are you?

The Pressure

How well do you work under pressure? If you’re like a lot of writers, that’s when you thrive. But what if you’re not? What’s the secret to producing awe-inspiring pieces in deadline-tight timeframes?

Don’t overthink it.

  1. First, think about the intent of the article or piece you’re writing. What’s the overall objective? What are you trying to communicate? Got it? Good.
  2. Now, summarize the article or piece – outloud. If your neighbors will think you’ve gone loopy, you can always pull one of them aside and explain that you just want to get this piece straight in your own mind and want to say it outloud. Otherwise, it’s okay to have them think you’re a bit loopy. The spice of life and all that.
  3. At this point, you should feel like a big weight has been lifted off of you. You’ve now summarized the content in one sentence. Adding to it, is the easy part. After all, you’re a writer, right? We all like to go on and on and on. But I digress…
  4. Next, type (or write if you’re old school) what you’ve just said outloud into your blank document. Now that you have your overall objective and a succinct one-line summary, you’re good to go. Simply determine how to flesh it out and organize it. And then write!

Let me know how it goes. If you’re like me, sometimes the hardest part is step 2. After saying it outloud in simple terms, it’s much easier to figure out your particular angle and go from there. Good luck! And, don’t overthink it.

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