You are encouraged to write badly—VERY badly

November 11, 2009 | Writing

Performance anxiety. Men get it in bed. Women get it on modeling runways. Writers are often befallen by this scourge when staring at a blank computer screen or sheet of paper.

It’s the No. 1 cause of dreaded writer’s block, according to some of the craft’s top instructors.

When suffering from performance anxiety our minds jump ahead and think about the end product, addling us with fear that our writing won’t measure up. It might even embarrass us. That’s especially horrifying since writing basically lasts forever, particularly in the internet age.

But there’s a technique promoted by leading writing coaches like Julia Cameron – author of The Right to Write – that can free us from this mind trap. Cameron and her ilk invite us to write badly. In fact, start your new writing project committed to writing as badly as you can.

I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, even ridiculous. But I’ve tried it and can tell you that it works amazingly well.

Try it yourself. What you’ll find is that you don’t really produce horrendous copy, you simply produce … copy. Because you’ve set your expectations so low the anxiety goes into remission and the resulting output is not nearly as poor as you expected. After all, it’s just the first draft.

You might even start drumming your fingernails on the desktop and find yourself thinking, This isn’t so bad. Not great but I can work with it. I can shape it into something respectable, maybe even pretty damn good.

Anne Lamott is another famous writing coach who advocates writing lousy first drafts. In her terrific book Bird by Bird, she assures aspiring writers that even the best novelists write terrible first drafts. That’s just the writing process.

So sit down, start typing and stop worrying. Concentrate on the process, not the final product. Commit to writing badly and you’ll be surprised how freely and well you write.

Tips for carbon-based networking

November 09, 2009 | Verbal communication

If you’re spending so much time networking online that you’re offline networking skills have rusted, you’ve done yourself a big disservice. Then again, many people never did acquire good interpersonal networking skills. With this blog post you’ll learn the single secret to effective networking. As a bonus, how about two fistfuls of examples you can put to immediate use? Just click the above headline and let’s get going…

Seven reasons your company should podcast

November 04, 2009 | Podcasting

If you’re still not sure what a podcast is don’t feel bad. You are one of millions of intelligent, informed people who are missing this piece of the New Media puzzle. Having excused you, now permit me to chastise you. All businesspeople should know what a podcast is, especially considering there are tens of thousands of them and their legions of listeners are growing. Podcasting can also be very beneficial to your company or you as a business professional. Here’s why…

The writing secrets of Ayn Rand

October 28, 2009 |

Ayn Rand – the legendary philosopher and author of the classic tomes The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged – produced huge amounts of cherished writing because she understood the techniques involved in producing clear and compelling prose. Her writing process consisted of five steps. In this blog post we examine the writing secrets of Ayn Rand…

The end of advertising as we know it

October 26, 2009 | Marketing

The next five years will bring more changes to the advertising business than the previous 50 years. That’s the conclusion of an IBM study of consumers and advertising experts. Especially exciting is that user-generated advertising is expected to become as prevalent as spots created by professional advertising agencies. Read about the four major trends the research project sees emerging…

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