The Right Way to Write

Senior Account Executive, Kat Ricketts shares tips to help you find your rhythm.

By: Kat Ricketts 

Very early on in my career with Slide Nine, I was asked to give a presentation on the writing process from my perspective as an English major. You know the one — the classic plan → prewrite → first draft → revise → final draft. It’s something many of us were taught in school and instinctively rely on when it’s time to crank out some copy. 

Though helpful in the sense that it provides a standard, easy-to-follow formula for developing content, the traditional textbook writing process often complicates an activity that should occur organically. An over-engineered process, more times than not, results in an underwhelming product. The word “process” implies that writing is simply a law we abide by, rather than an adventure we embark on. It’s not, nor should it be, a linear process — you can’t confine creativity.

More often than not, in my experience, writing happens forwards, backwards, sideways and sometimes even in circles. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you get from Point A to Point B, as long as you get your point across. (See what I did there?) That is to say: when you allow yourself to take that liberty is when you’re really going to do your best work. 

It’s okay if you have to revise something three times. It’s okay if you finish writing an entire byline just to scrap it and start over from scratch. And it’s okay if you can’t figure out where to start at all. Now you may be thinking “Sure, Kat. That’s great, but when I’m working against a deadline, I’m not always thinking about giving myself grace.” I get it, and that’s totally valid. So how do we train ourselves to think differently about our writing? The best thing to remember is that there is no “right way to write” and that you have to do whatever works best for you. Here are a few tips you can practice that may help you find your rhythm:

  • Take a Walk: We all need a break some days. Oftentimes, the best remedy for a bad case of brain fog is to take some time away and come back with a clear head.
  • Be Theatrical: Read out loud. Hearing your writing can help you catch mistakes or adjust wording for better flow.
  • Phone a Friend: Sometimes we get too close to our own writing and lose all sense of direction. When you’re feeling a little lost, try asking a peer, particularly one unfamiliar with the subject matter, to be a second set of eyes.
  • Never Stop Reading: Reading is the best way to become a better writer — it exposes you to new vocabulary and expands your mind to new ideas.
  • Stream Your Consciousness: Let loose. Empty your mind onto the page and don’t stop until every last disorganized sliver of an idea is on paper. Then comb back through the chaos and mine for the real gems.

And last but not least, the most important advice of all: trust yourself. As communicators, we are often natural perfectionists and it’s easy to agonize over every detail. But remember that we’re in this industry because we’re kickass at what we do, and sometimes the cure for writer’s block is just having confidence in yourself and the rest will come easy.