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How to stop analysis paralysis from getting in the way of your writing

James McCann-Ellerington

Zinc Communications group

PRO

The hardest part of writing is actually starting. Getting pen to paper. Or, more likely flipping the laptop (Mac of course) and pounding the keys.

There’s always a reason not to do it. An exterior motive to pause. For me, it’s a case of some rather aggressive weeds in the vegetable patch, a landslide of client work and the final games of the ICC Cricket World Cup.

This is because writing goes hand in glove with procrastination. We pine over perfection. ‘How can I start?’, ‘what should I write about?’, what if it’s all nonsense?”.

All valid points, but they serve as blockers to our imagination, ability and production of an end product. Indeed, it’s a scenario that’s afflicted this post.

I’ve been a member of ProCopywriters since February. In that time I’ve had multiple ideas for posts. I even wrote down a schedule to stay on track.

But I’d ask myself the aforementioned questions, plus a whole lot more on some days. This is precisely why it has taken until now to publish post number one. A slap on the wrist for yours truly.

But then it occurred to me. Surely, this is exactly what my first post should be about?

I can’t be alone in thinking this, or having this approach.? In fact, I know I’m not.

I fell into the age-old trap I preach to my clients to avoid — ‘paralysis by analysis’. Overthinking. If you think about anything for long enough you’ll eventually you’ll come up with reasons not to do it. 

So just write. Get some words down, play with a structure and put something in place.

Heck, we have to start somewhere and writing isn’t like getting a tattoo. If you don’t like what you have written, quickly delete and start again. But please, just get going.

What I find is that once I start, words just pour out like the contents of a shaken-up bottle of Champagne. Some goes in the glass, some on the floor. But it still tastes great and any initial spillage is quickly forgotten about as I move in for glasses two, three, four and five.

Above all else, writing should be fun. It’s a beautiful skill to evoke feelings, emotion and will purely with words. Use it, value it and make the most of it.

And like anything, the more we do something, the more we want to continue to do. It’s a virtuous circle and writing is no different. In fact, if this post compels just one of you to write (please let me know if it does) then I’ll be a happy man and it will have done its job. 

Nobody gets it right the first time. We all need to edit, change, cut, tweak and polish. And as anybody who has written anything will know, it is much easier to edit than starting from scratch. So it made logical sense to start here and at least get the ball moving. 

And that is what this is now, a moving ball.

Looks like my schedule will come in handy after all. So much so, that for my next post I’m going to blog on the lost art of letter writing.

Why? Because it’s my daughter’s birthday so I’m going to make her send thank you cards. And also because my 94-year-old great aunt recently confessed (in a letter) to crying tears of joy when she gets our correspondence.

More on that later, but if that doesn’t show the power of words, nothing will.

What do you think?

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