Posts Tagged ‘Webrain’

Flexible Focus #60: Writing Tips and Tools

by William Reed on July 7, 2011

Put Your Passion on a Platform

If we don’t stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”~Peter Marshall, Chaplain (1947)

Although we often associate the word platform with politics, in fact it has a far more profound relevance in how we live our lives and pursue our passions. As most of us are not running for election, we do not need to use our platform to debate an opponent or win over voters. A platform is a point of view, a perspective, a place to stand. Without a platform we simply drift.

One of the best ways to develop a platform is to write. Whether it is a diary meant for your eyes only, or a published platform for the world to see, the very act of putting your thoughts in writing gives your thoughts wings, and sets your mind in motion. Writing not only gives shape to your thoughts, but the process of writing makes you a proactive producer, rather than a passive consumer. Writing puts things in perspective by requiring you to take a point of view, while at the same time considering the points of view of your readers, an excellent recipe for flexible focus.

Although we all learn to write in school, few people continue to write, and many resist the process as a tiresome task. Even people who want to write often experience writer’s block, a state of mental congestion in which words jam and fail to communicate what is inside wanting to come out.

Oddly, chances are that you are never more fluent when it comes to talking about your passions. But when you try to write about them, you often find that your thoughts have clipped wings.

One of the reasons for this is the feeling cultivated in school that writing is something that you will be graded on. Poor spelling and awkward phrases may brand you as uneducated or incoherent. It may seem safer to stick to speech, rather than committing yourself in print.

And yet putting your thoughts on paper is one of the best ways to put your passion on a platform, because it is lasting, and reaches much further than your voice. Your writing can be the core element of your personal brand.

Facilitating the Process

The fastest way to fluency in writing is to form the habit of logging your thoughts in a notebook, capturing your ideas in key words, images, and visual metaphors. Your brain takes to a notebook like a duck to water. it is your space, your playground, your mental mirror. No need to worry about grades or grammar, just enjoy the power of the pen.

I have explored this process in depth in my Creative Career Path column in such articles as, Idea Marathon, Making Your Mark, and Doodle for Your Noodle. Without a vibrantly flowing river of thought running through your life, any efforts you make at formal writing will sound stilted and forced. Imagine if a company of actors put on a play without any rehearsals or practice. The results would not be pretty, and yet that is the approach that many people take when they sit down to write without the habit of daily practice.

Once you have become comfortable putting pen to paper and generating ideas, the next step is to engage in writing to an audience. Whether through a blog or an article, or more formally through a book, you are better served if you make use of writing tools which can enhance your ability to say what you mean in a memorable way.

Words gain more power when addressed with alliteration. Taking care to select the right words can help you craft your style in a way that is both conversational and concise. Because your passive vocabulary is much larger than your active vocabulary, it is important to reach into the full range of words which you already know, but may not be accustomed to using. The best way to do this is to make use of tools like Thesaurus.com. You will be surprised to see how many ways there are to say the same thing with a different nuance.

To enhance your writing experience, Scrivener is an excellent tool, available for Mac OSX, and with a beta version for Windows. Scrivener is a complete writing studio, with all you could possibly want to organize your research, format your documents, keep visual notes, manage text statistics, search your documents, or edit and add comments. It is a writer’s dream.

The Mandala Chart itself is an excellent way to organize ideas around a subject, or create an editorial calendar, allowing you to see the big picture, the fine detail, and the integration of your material with flexible focus. Another excellent tool for organizing your ideas is PersonalBrain. You can create your own 3D idea maps on your computer, or publish them in the form of a Webbrain, such as I have done for this column with the Flexible Focus Webrain.

If you want to write or present yourself professionally in print, then there is no better resource than Roger C. Parker’s PublishedandProfitable.com, a step by step resource guide to planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a book or any other form of writing. Here you will find templates, white papers, expert interviews, articles, worksheets, and a wealth of resources for writers. Roger has also lent his wisdom on Writing for Business through his Author’s Journey series on Active Garage.

Published writing increases the size and quality of your interface with the world. It has never been easier to create and cultivate that interface through software tools and leverage your work through social media. Give wings to your thoughts, and see just how far it can take you personally and professionally.