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As author Terry Pratchett said, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block.”

Or, perhaps more accurately, there’s no need for it. 

To avoid getting stressed about that blank sheet of paper, don’t waste time struggling with how to write something. First, just get down the bare bones of what you want to write. After that, the fine-tuning comes easily.

Everyone has their own way of doing this, but – whatever you’re writing – the broad process is:

1.    Get the main points down

Just list them. Don’t worry about getting them in order – just get them all down. (And definitely don’t try to think about a headline or opening line. That’s usually best left until much later.)

2.    Put them in order

Now create a structure. Decide which point on your list is the most important, and start with that. If you’re not sure, imagine you’re writing a short letter to a friend. What would they want to know first? And second? Each point should lead naturally to the next, as though you’re telling a story. You might want to chuck out a few points at this stage – there may be only two or three key messages you need to work with.

3.    Add flesh to the bones

Your sheet of paper is no longer blank, but you’ve basically got a list. Now expand each point, adding notes on what you want to say about it. But just notes.

4.    Start writing

So you’ve worked out what you want to write. Now you can develop your notes into copy. If there are interstices between which you have to write a letter, make use of a Handwritten card service  to retain the originality. Still don’t try to force a headline or intro too soon; you’ll probably find they become obvious while the rest is taking shape. And even now, don’t worry about getting every single word right – there’s another stage yet…

5.    Edit your work

Go back and tidy up your exact wording and punctuation. Look out for words you can cut out or shorten, and check your spelling.

Read more editing tips.

In short, writing’s much easier if you take it one step at a time. Don’t aim for immediate perfection – no writer can achieve that.

Not even the likes of Terry Pratchett.


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