Top Foolproof Writing Tip

by Jan Geronimo on March 16, 2009

Tools Writers UseImage by Kelly Sims via Flickr

This post is inspired by a compilation of the best writing tips by John Roach of . I’ve read all 17 of them but what resonated most with me is @raimalarter ’s tip: My writing tip: seat time. As in “Put your seat in the chair and stay there!”

Raima is so spot on that if there’s only one advice I can share with you to transform yourself into a creative writer it is that common task. Very startling in its stark simplicity it’s a wonder it escapes our attention.

That’s all there is it to it. No magic bullet. No strange sounding mantra to set you in the mood. Just this: sit down and write.

Twitter after and not before (you may never extricate yourself). Certainly not during your writing time because you may never finish what you started. And close your browser tabs. All of them – email, IM, Facebook, Friendster, Friendfeed, LinkedIn. Better yet close down your internet connection.

After you’ve done you’re pre-writing rituals and unplugged yourself from the hive then you’re ready to -

* Sit down and search your notes (you keep a notebook of blogpost ideas, don’t you?) and pick one to write.
* Sit down even if you decide your cache of ideas is worthless.
* Sit down even if you have no idea what to write about. You’ll have better luck next time.
* Sit down because you’re rewiring your brain every time you keep your appointed time to write.
* Sit down until you have the guts to plunk your heart on the table and smudge your post with it.

Over time you’d be comfortable with the idea of your alone time. Every day that you keep to your schedule you’re becoming more attuned to the promptings of your inner voice. Listen to it. Acknowledge it. Capture what it has to say.

You have great friends in real life. You’re a power user in social media with a large following. But are you friends with your creative voice? Can you honestly say every time you sit down to write this untapped creative spirit has got your back covered?

Yes, consider it a date. Keep to your schedule every day. Until your ass muscles will have developed what athletes call muscle memory and drag you to your desk to write. Give in to its prompting. Your indecisive brain may falter but muscle memory will save your day.

Your ass knows best, after all.

This is just one idea. I know you’ve a useful tip or two to make blogging or creative writing less of a brain bleed. Over to you, dear readers. And out with it. :)

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  • Good advice, but I would find it hard to follow personally.
  • Jan
    @Gem: When the post I'm writing is light I don't unplug the internet connection. But when I'm writing a very tough piece I simply have to put my blinders on. I can always put the links when I'm done, or look for additional notes to perk up the post later anyway. Well, we have our unique way of getting things done. As long as it works to our favor. :)
  • Gem
    These tips apply too whenever I need to accomplish freelance work or need to compose a new blog post. I could not turn off the internet, because I always had to research online.
  • Jan
    @ice_hot: thanks for sharing. okay, will check this out. :)
  • ice_hot
    hi! you have a great blog here! i love the cool ideas... Pinoy Money Talk also has some ideas on how to improve your blogging experience.
  • Jan
    @yatot: Of course, you can delete the sleepy post anytime, or edit it.:)
  • yatot
    @jan: hahahaha... i never saw that coming!
  • Jan
    @Raima: Thanks, Raima. I've been thinking about this tip for a long time. When I saw your tip at John W. Roach's blog I felt relieved. It's not a bad idea, after all. Somebody (and that's you) found it useful enough to share it on Twitter. There's safety in numbers. hahaha.

    Next time, I'd be more courageous. :) And let an idea rise or fall on its own merit. Thank you, you've been of great help.
  • Raima
    Hey, thanks a bunch for the big shout-out! And I'm so glad this tip resonated with you and your readers.

    To help me achieve this goal of regular "seat time", I have also, at times, made notations on my calendar about how many minutes or hours I've actually spent in the chair. It's a good way to keep from fooling yourself! The data never lie.

    Keep up the good work!
  • Jan
    @elmot: We are just passing through, elmot. Maybe if we have eternity on our hands, I can afford to be unkind. And generally do as I please. The people I meet today tomorrow I may not meet again. That's my take on this. Of course it helps when people are kind, too. The drama! Urian goes to Elmot. hahaha.

    @Dee: Is it Father Bernas? I love Jesuits, preferably from a safe distance. hahaha. Dee, that's a priceless anecdote. Thank you. :)

    @Yatot: You bring up fond memories of my days with typewriters. The furious pounding, the way you slam the carriage return as if to stress a point. hahaha. You have a demanding day job. It's understandable you fall asleep while blogging in bed. That's funny, Yatot. What if you're in the middle of your unfinished and unedited post and then while asleep you hit accidentally the publish button? hahaha.

    @lemuel: Well, as Yatot advised way back, with blogging comes improvement in one's writing. I bet if you compare what you write now with your first tentative posts you may be tempted to exclaim, "What a work of genius!" Or something along that line. :)
  • lemuel
    writing was never one of my strong points. sometimes i'm not even sure of my grammar. when i was in elementary we were trained to write a full page getting ideas from a provided title. training was gone when i was in high school because i attended a science high school that focused on math and science subjects. college was different too, got to involved in sports, extra curricular and friends. i just had an opportunity to revive my skills from my job 2 years ago when i was tasked to write proposals for a funding agency to approve projects for education and the environment
  • yatot
    sometimes i like it when I scribble down notes... sometimes... i like the typing sound of the keyboard... whichever I prefer to do... i sit to it of course that i sit down on a comfortable chair.. because when I write while on the bed... i tend to go to sleep! wahehhehehe
  • Dee
    I'm reminded of my previous Jesuit law professor who told us that studying the law requires only one thing: ass power (excuse the first word, but that's really the word he used). And he said it's because to succeed in our endeavor, we need to have a strong behind because what we need to do all day is just sit and read.

    So I agree with you with the sit and write tip. That's the best thing to do, I believe. :D
  • elmot
    you really never fail to give kind words jan, hahaha
  • Jan
    @bingkee: I have been reading your writing for quite sometime now. What strikes me most is that your writing seems so instinctive for you.Is reflexive the right word for it? Like breathing. I bet you can write while sleepwalking. hahaha.

    Unlike the rest of us lesser mortals. Well, we just have to bear with what we have, I suppose.

    I'm grounded with Communication Arts, too. How about that! But I majored in film appreciation. Remember those movie houses in Recto Avenue? :) And my minor was - well never mind, I don't want to influence our youthful bloggers here with my tales of dissipation. hahaha.

    @elmot: Well, bro, you're tops in that department from what I've seen so far. A blogger with an attitude. :) The right ones, of course.
  • elmot
    have lots to do jan with my blog after reading this good post, knowing that it is in the blogosphere for a year now... have forgotten it actually, and it is only that i have resurrected it from the depths of blogosphere.

    i think, what is the most important part here is "attitude". being steadfast, consistent, persevering. needs these bro
  • bingkee
    As a former advertising/p.r. copywriter, I was paid to write---to churn out articles and copies every time they wanted me to. Even if I was not in the mood or suffering from a headache, I had to sit down and write. I had a deadline to beat and I had a boss who constantly nagged me to death.

    I felt I was like a vending machine that whenever a material was thrown onto my desk, I had to deliver what they wanted.

    But even in college, we were "trained" to beat deadlines which motivated us to write even we didn't feel like writing. I took Communication Arts major in Broadcasting , minor in Advertising and Public Relations.

    That writer was right---you have to sit down to write even if you're not in the mood. You've got to find the "mood"---but it only rings true when I was working and being paid as a writer. Now I am writing when I only want to , when I'm only inspired and when I'm in the "mood."

    But if you tackle blogging like "being paid to write", then you really have to sit down and write.
  • Jan
    @Salwa: Hi, there. Thanks for visiting. I've got to admit I've yet to visit relevant forums yet. So much to do! But I'm setting aside some to do it finally. Thanks for this reminder. :)
  • Salwa
    Thanks for the tips. Also interaction with readers and search for forums has really help me on finding idea for my blog topics.
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