Don’t write it, teach it


Sometimes, we get stuck trying to collect our thoughts and cogently express them. If you ever suffer from that affliction, you might try something I learned from another attorney who does a lot of writing.

He suggests making an outline of key points, as you might for a slide presentation, and narrating those points as if you were teaching them.

Record and transcribe your “talk” and you’ll have the skeleton of your article, if not the entire article—at least the first draft.

I’ve tried it and like it.

It’s liberating because there’s no pressure to “write”. You just talk. Your thoughts might not yet be completely fleshed out, your words might need “fixing,” but what you say (write) should flow smoothly out of you and onto the page.

This is easier to do when you know your subject well but even if you don’t, you can quickly present the basic ideas and come back for another pass to fill in the blanks and tidy things up.

The first time I heard this, I thought it was a bit simplistic, but then I realized that the best writing, mine included, is conversational, which is no doubt what is meant when we are told to write like we talk.

Give this a try. In fact, I challenge you to do it right now with a brief blog post, article or email.

Pick a topic and a working title or email subject.

Jot down 3-5 bullet points to cover and if you have examples or stories that illustrate your points, note these too.

Grab your phone or recording device and talk your way through your points for just 5 minutes.

If you’re like me, the first time you try this, you’ll be amazed at how many words you get, and how (nearly) ready they to publish they are.

More writing ideas here


A simple way to write faster and better 


“Don’t edit while you write” we are told. Get the words out of your head and down on paper without concern for clarity, grammar, usage, or spelling. Get your critical mind out of the way and write. Edit later.

It’s good advice and no doubt you follow it to some extent. It improves the quality and speed of your writing, especially if you feel stuck and don’t know what to say.

Someone once summarized this advice by saying, “Write drunk, edit sober.” I offer no comment on whether this advice should be followed literally but research confirms the value of doing something similar:

Write while groggy.

Apparently, we are more creative when we are sleepy. I assume that’s because our critical mind is less engaged, allowing us to write a first draft (or solve problems, as was done in the research) more quickly and easily.

So, if you’re usually slower in the morning, that’s when you might want to get some words on paper. Especially before you have that first cup of coffee. If you tire in the afternoon, you might try writing later in your day.

Are there other ways to “turn off” our critical mind without being sleepy or drunk or using willpower?

I think so.

I often put on headphones and listen to to help me focus. Sometimes, I listen to regular music (new age or classical, thank you.) Sometimes, I listen to talk radio while writing, letting the voices blend into the background. This morning, I had a news video playing while writing this. Writing in a coffee shop does the same thing for many people.

I also get first drafts done by dictating into my phone on my walk or when I’m in the car.

What do you do to turn off your critical mind?

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