This is a guest contribution from Lorraine Reguly.
“Damn. It’s not perfect, but it’ll have to do.”
“Shit. I wanted it to be better than that.”
Have you ever felt that way before hitting the “schedule” or “publish” button?
I bet you have, during at least one point in your blogging career.
Writing is difficult for many people, and bloggers are no exception. Creating a stellar blog post is the goal, but drafting a blog post often takes a lot of time and frustration. Many bloggers know what they want to say, but just can’t seem to follow an outline or compose a post in a logical order on their first try.
Perfectionists, especially, suffer from this. I know this to be a fact, because I am the mother of all perfectionists! Not only am I a blogger, but I’m a writer AND an editor, too.
As such, I have pretty high standards, and I tend to edit as I write. Most of the time, it drives me crazy. I can’t stand making mistakes, and I hate typos with a passion. When I’m writing with a pen, the paper ends up looking like something a six-year-old might write, full of scribbles. When I’m writing on my laptop, the “backspace” key gets hit more than any other!
To tame my perfectionistic ways and combat overuse of that key, I’ve learned to approach writing by creating drafts first, using two incredibly innovative methods.
The first method is by using stream-of-consciousness writing. The second is by blindfolding myself.
Sometimes I even use the two together!
Innovative Method #1: Stream-of-Consciousness Writing
By definition, stream-of-consciousness writing involves writing down whatever comes to mind, ignoring typos, omitting periods, and basically separating the writing from the editing process. Stream-of-consciousness writing does not have to be logical or follow an order. Instead, rules can be broken and complete freedom from writing conventions should be had.
Psst. Let me tell you a secret. I don’t usually swear online. It’s a bit unprofessional, and the vulgarity of cursing often turns people off.
But guess what?
Swearing can attract people, too. Many people curse, and if they see you doing it, they’ll know you’re a real person, too.
Are you the same person online as off?
Do you “pretend” to be a little bit better, a little bit nicer, and end up being – or feeling – just a little bit phony instead?
With stream-of-consciousness writing, the best thing you can do is to be yourself, your TRUE self. Swear as often as you want. You can delete the curse words later. After all, that is what the editing process is for!
When writing this post, I thought of a few different opening lines.
Here’s an example of how I originally wanted to begin this article:
“Here we go again. More f@!*in’ advice from a damn guest poster.”
“Shee-iiit. She’d better deliver the goods.”
That is SO NOT ME!
But you have to admit, it IS kind of interesting. It also probably would have caused you to continue reading, right?
Either that, or it would have caused you to immediately move on to another post.
As you can see, I wasn’t willing to take that risk. Alternatively, for demonstration purposes, I included it in the body of the post. I wanted to show you that you can move things around when you are finished writing. Again, that’s what the editing process is for, and why posts such as how to edit your own blog posts have been written already!
Benefits of Stream-of-Consciousness Writing
1. You will not be burdened by the constricts of grammar and punctuation.
2. You will feel freer once you get into it.
3. You will appreciate and understand the difference between the writing process, the editing and the formatting process.
4. You can drop the F-bomb… as often as you like!
5. You won’t be judged on what you initially write.
6. You will get addicted to the freedom stream-of-consciousness writing affords you, and you will become more productive as a result.
7. The quality of your blog posts will improve! (Well, hopefully, they will!)
Innovative Method #2: Writing While Blindfolded
This is a great option for you if you tend to write and edit simultaneously – like I do!
To write while blindfolded, you would obviously have to be working at a computer in order to create a draft this way. I don’t know anyone who can write with a pen on paper while blindfolded!
To achieve the blindfolded state, there are many things you could do. You could simply take a scarf or a mask of some sort and cover your eyes, or create one using this template.
Closing your eyes isn’t enough; the temptation to peek is too great! By physically covering your eyes, you will be more conscious of the fact that you have to keep them covered in order to achieve your writing goal.
There are many other ways for you to “blindfold” yourself. You could take an old pair of sunglasses and paint them with nail polish so that you cannot see through them. You could tape paper over them. You could use a cut-up tea towel or pillowcase or some other soft material. If you have access to a dental or surgeon’s mask, you could cover your eyes instead of your mouth and nose with that. Get innovative. Make this exercise fun! Blindfolds come in many shapes and sizes!
4 Benefits of Writing While Blindfolded
1. You might feel a bit ridiculous wearing a blindfold, but the benefits that you will reap will be worth it.
2. You will have a better focus on your content, and won’t be distracted by any typos you see.
3. You’ll train yourself to write faster. Of course, you can improve your writing skills by learning how to type faster, too. ;)
4. You’ll have a greater appreciation for the various stages of editing and formatting a blog post.
Relevant links and images can be added when the bulk of your post has been written.
You can re-order the points of your post, fix the typos, and correct your grammar and punctuation then, too. For the third time, that’s what the editing process is for!
(If you need assistance editing your blog posts, you could always ask me for help. I’ve received recognition for my editing services from BookVetter, from a few authors, and from bloggers, and am rapidly building a plethora of testimonials from others for the quality of my services.)
Innovation Is Key
Innovation when writing can help you create better blog posts.
What other things have you discovered that have helped you write better?
Let’s discuss them in the comments.
Lorraine Reguly is an English teacher-turned-blogger who offers both writing and editing services to anyone in need. She has been a guest blogger on various websites, is an author, and is currently giving away a free blogging ebook. She can also help you turn your ebook into a print book! Visit Wording Well for more details.
Opening image of typing hands courtesy of Naypong and FreeDigitalPhotos.net, although altered with text by guest post author.
I can relate a lot to Stream-of-Consciousness Writing,
funny enough, I don’t swear that much but drop a hell lot of f-bombs in my own thought process which ends-up on screen. When doing that I try to capture the essence, most of the time bullet points only which serve as outline and key points I can to write about.
the Blindfolded sounds interesting and makes a lot of sense,
one thing I like to do is to take the outlines I create early mornings to the park and have do a braindump on them in audio for later editing.
I generally make it a rule not to swear online, which makes this post a bit unique for me.
I wanted to demonstrate that you can break all the rules!!! LOL
It’s great to hear that you are writing down your key points and then working from that outline, Guilherme!
Good article. Short and sweet! I am all too often struggling with that little editor in my head and stopping along the way to edit while writing. I guess I am afraid I will forget the brilliant correction I just came up with if I don’t
get it down….now! I think I will try the blindfold! And, I see the Genesis ad and that reminds me that it’s time for me to switch. Thanks!
Diana, thanks for the compliment on the post. I wanted to provide actionable tips without being overwhelming.
Let me know how your “blindfold experiment” goes!
Good article with some actionable advice. For me, it all boils down to having an idea already before I even start drafting posts. I keep a list in Evernote of around 50 post titles that I could write a blog post about. I have categorized these post titles in different topics and the title itself should give a pretty good idea what the future post is about.
When drafting content I make sure to block out my calendar so I am only doing that, thus allowing myself no distractions. If I feel at a particular moment the current situation/mood/creativity sparks better around a different post title, I don’t sweat it and choose that one instead.
I personally think it is all about preparation but also about setting the mindset and motivation for yourself. In the end, there is nothing more demotivating and that is a white screen with a blinking cursor and no idea what to write about.
Joep, it’s great that you keep a list of ideas for your posts! That shows you’re organized, which is often half the battle!
Preparation is key, for sure.
Thanks for your comment, and sorry it took me so long to reply. There were some issues in the comment approval process. Plus, I’ve been on vacation!
Great to see you here!
I am stream of consciousness all the way. I write without stopping, which is why I have written and published one, 6,000 to 7,000 word eBook daily to Amazon over the past 6 weeks. Every day, I write one and publish it. This feat would be impossible if I stopped to edit or if I wrote in any fashion other than the stream of consciousness bit. As for writing blindfolded I sometimes write as I watch the TV or as I hold chats with other folks. Really fun way to detach from work while seeing what flows to the Word Doc.
Fun tips. Thanks for sharing!
Hey Ryan, it’s good to be here! ;)
The one thing you have to remember about stream-of-consciousness writing is that you writing is NOT filtered… and sometimes it needs to be. (Again, that’s what the editing process is for.)
Congratulations on your accomplishments! I’m proud of you, my friend. :)
Keep it up!
If I type my draft in Word or an email to my assistant, I’m able to do the stream-of-consciousness thing, or at least get my ideas out without worrying about it being perfect. But if I try to do it right in my blog, it feels too real, and I’m constantly fussing over the right word choice and other details that are better left to the editing stage, even though I know it’s not the final version.
Janet, sometimes we need that extra push of comfort in order for us to write a great draft.
It’s good that you’ve identified this issue and have found an alternative way to combat it.
I rarely write posts in my WordPress editor; I generally write my draft in Word, too!
Hey Lorraine, I love the fact that you in a round about way and telling people to show their true authenticity. And I personally think thats really great. Most of us to cus every now and then, but would feel reluctant to include it in our online writing. The type skills need. That’s certainly one thing they don’t teach these days. Good old touch typing classes, suppose the blind fold could help with that. Thanks for a great article. Cheers Kim
Kim, I’m glad you enjoyed my “nudge” to others to “keep it real.” I’m all about authenticity, and laying it out there. (Coincidentally, that’s the title of my author blog: Laying It Out There.)
It’s important to be yourself. People like realism and truth.
And if you heard me swear when I get mad… well, let’s say it doesn’t get any more real than that! LOL
It’s great to hear you liked the idea of a blindfold, too. :)
I do Stream-of-Consciousness Writing for almost all writing I do. I find that for me it’s quicker and more effective, especially when I have a goal of writing two or three blog posts in a night.
Shawn, that’s awesome!!!
I know it sure helps when you have a lot on your plate.
Great article Lorraine.
And it’s well written and very informative.
Thank you so much, Tracy! :)
It is difficult to write a blog post within less time. Blog post take time to insert keywords, images and also unique and effective content needs for make a blog post attractive. I am a part time blogger word press. Thanks for sharing awesome content.
Buesi, blogging takes time, and writing a blog post is only a fraction of the work!
I’m glad you can see that. :)
Great post. I really did not think much about my writing habits until reading this. And actually I kinda write blindfolded and go back to read just for keep together the content. I leave all the editing stuff for the next level – editing the post.
I guess I got this habit at work as I have to write and send several emails each day and I use different languages. And if I stop to edit I take a huge risk to switch the language. It happend to me several times to start writing in French for a French client and after an editing break to go on in English. And of course I had to re-write the English part. So I learned that I have to write all the email/post and edit&correct after.
Thank you for sharing!
Marcela, I only know English, so I don’t have the problem of having to “think in French” (or any other language, for that matter). I can see the issue you’ve had, though, and appreciate your comment.
Writing and editing are two separate events, and it’s great to see that you know this, too.
It makes us more productive when we know the difference!
Great post. I don’t tend edit as I write – which is a bit of a blessing – but I really like the idea of blindfolding myself and just going for it. I might just cover the screen though rather than myself (I’d probably scare the dog!).
Stream of conscious writing is pretty much how I write – and then I heavily edit it afterwards too.
I know so many people who struggle with the writing process because of the strong urge to constantly edit – definitely sharing this :-)
Thanks for the tips!
Heather, that’s a great idea, covering the screen!
It probably will make you feel a little less awkward, too. I love it!
And we definitely don’t want to scare the dog. ;)
I also do a lot of blog writing and editing at the same time and it is really counter-productive doing both together. So here’s a tip that I use to write “blind-folded.” I simply turn off the computer screen and then I can type to my heart’s content without the temptation of editing. When I turn on the screen again there is my blog post live and well and I can edit it as much as I like.
Though I must add that when I want to be really creative, the best way for me is to write with a pen and paper. Somehow the thoughts flow directly from my brain to the paper without that bossy editor looking over my shoulder.
Sandra, I often write using a pen and paper. At least, I used to. I don’t so much anymore. However, turning off the screen (or covering it, like Heather, above, mentioned), is a great idea, too!
Stream of consciousness is a great way to write. I always start blog posts by throwing down anything that comes to mind. Many times during the day thoughts will come and I put those down too. Its a collecting process. After that I put all these scribbles into a (hopefully) coherent post. Its definitely accessing two important parts of the brain.
Laurie, I keep a notebook specifically for my blog ideas. Then, when I am ready to write, I make an outline of the important points, fill in the gaps, edit and then format it.
Generally speaking, working in stages like that is best in order to produce a “winning” post!
It’s great to see that you follow the same steps to success!
Great to see you here! What great tips. I haven’t done the stream of consciousness but it seems awesome. Much more freeing than editing yourself as you type.
I’ll have to try that out for the future. As for blindfolding myself…eh…not sure about that!
I think if you’re as honest as you can when you write a blog post it should be well received. People can tell if it’s phony or not real.
Elna, sorry for the late reply.
I agree; others can tell if you are being “fake.”
I’d not blindfold yourself if I were you; your twins might wake up and see you and be scared! LOL
Sorry, too, for having to cancel our coffee date at Starbucks; I missed talking to you!
We will have to make it up soon!
Thank you your “Methods” came at a good time, I will definitely try them.
Lynn, I hope you have had a chance to try them by now.
Did they help? Let me know!
I love the idea of stream of consciousness writing. Whenever i get frustrated writing i just start banging out words to get the damn article done.
Nicholas, stream-of-consciousness writing is great when you’re feeling feeling frustrated!
My preferred method is to have a short of vodka for every sentence. As a consequence my articles begin with esteemed decorum, yet gradually trail off into outright vitriol and insanity. Haha!
Jareth, the one thing you need to remember, however, is to edit your work!
(I’m not sure what a “short” of vodka is, but I’m pretty sure you meant to say a “shot.”)
Hi, I just wanted to let you know that my comments are not showing up. I’ve replied to everyone here, and am leaving this one as a test to see if IT shows up.
Perhaps they will all be visible once they are approved?
I loved the article,it was very much informative and a hint of humor made it a fun reading overall.
I’m an aspiring blogger,so I found the techniques to be really helpful.Stream of consciousness looks like a method with much more freedom,I will surely try it out.
I would love to read more from you.
P.S: If I need your help sometime,how do I approach you?
Pranav, thanks for the compliment. Find me at Wording Well, anytime. :)
Along the lines of writing while blindfolded, dictation is also great way to stop the self editing process. If you have a writing partner who can type fast, this is really easy. :) If you work solo, then the dictation built into Mac OSX is a good way to get started. Then if you really like it, you can graduate to something like Dragon Dictate.
Great ideas, Blake! Thanks!
I’ve actually made recordings in the past and sent them to Angela Shirley to transcribe for me. (She runs Whatever Needs to Be Done, Inc. and she is AWESOME to work with.)
I’ve never heard of Dragon Dictate, so thank you for sharing that resource. I’ll have to check it out!
Hi Lorraine; well i had a great comment written but put it in the wrong place. suffice to say that you are an amazing editor and shared some great pointers here. I have never typed blindfolded because I always have my computer’s screen reader on. But you do have me wondering if my writing would change if I turned the speech off. I’ll have to try that and let you know what happens. and since you edited my book you are well aware that I do stream of consciousness pretty well. :) my sentence structure is to complex based on most people’s advice about writing for the web. but its who I am how I write and most people don’t have a problem with it thank goodness. but i do struggle with censoring myself both in writing and in person. Someone has to know me real well before they will hear me drop an f bomb. so we can all improve. You advised to write with your true voice. that is wonderful advice and it applies to being yourself as much as it does to writing the way you usually speak. thanks so much for sharing. glad to say I knew you before you were a famous guest blogger. xoxo max
Hi Max. You know, I didn’t think about how this post would apply to you. Hmm. Since you’re blind already, there’s no need to blindfold yourself literally, but turning your screen reader off is a great way for you to “blindfold” yourself.
Try it and let me know how it goes, and if it helps.
By the way, most people who know you and know you’re blind are more forgiving of errors they can see. But your eloquent way of expressing yourself is also indicative of your amazing ability to communicate in a conversational manner. People appreciate that, Max. I want you to know that.
Thanks, too, for stopping by to check out my post here. I am sorry for the delay in my response. As you know, I’ve been on vacation, and also there were some issues with the comment approval process, which (hopefully) will be ironed out the next time I have a guest post here! ;)
hey lorraine; thanks for the complement about my writing style. I’ve been told I should use shorter less complicated sentences online, but its who I am and how I write. don’t think i could change it now if I wanted to. so thanks for letting me know i don’t have to. :) and I’m sure this won’t be the last time you are seen on this site. You are a real star whether it be writing editing formatting helping with websites and social media or just being your amazing self. take care my friend. xoxo max
Thanks, Max. :)
Hi Lorraine, back when I started with this “internet marketing” thing I too suffered from the same crutch. I would edit incessantly while writing and that reduced the speed with which I could complete a post.
Back then I chanced on a post by Daniel Succo who said that writing and editing are two separate processes and since then I tend to do only one thing at a time. I do have a problem that I tend to leave mistakes as such in the editing phase due to oversight. So I sometimes highlight some portions while I am writing so that I don’t miss anything.
Joseph, Daniel is a smart guy, and knows what he’s talking about.
It’s great to hear that you’ve identified the difference between writing and editing, too.
As both a writer and an editor, I used to struggle with my writing process. I still do, on occasion, but I’m much better at separating the two now! ;)