When you’ve got a presentation, a report or an article to write there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration.
Even writing this, I’m guilty of doing what I always advise people NOT to do – starting at the top of the page and trying to fill it!
The best place to start is away from the computer.
1. Take a blank piece of paper, a pen and think about why you are writing. In the middle of the piece of paper, write down your objective. What is the purpose of your document? What will people know, think or do when they have finished reading it?
2. Think of the topics you might include, and write these around your objective (making sure they relate to it). Are there any required inclusions such as terms and conditions, timings, background information.
3. Do you need any images, illustrations or diagrams? Will these go within the document or in an appendix at the back?
4. Plan out a structure and decide what information will go where.
5. This is the point you can start putting the words together. If it helps, tackle it in sections. Taking time out and doing something else in between can give you a fresh perspective.
Top tip: Gather together some words and phrases that you can use. Have a look at websites such as dictionary.com to help you. Find alternative ways of expressing information, especially if you find yourself using the same words repeatedly.
Always read through the entire document once it is finished, preferably the next day or after taking a break. With the cut and paste function, it’s easy to leave in duplicate sections of text or half-sentences.
PS This technique is also great for planning homework!