So many drafts, so little done

A tale of a disorganized writer

So many drafts but so little getting done,

none of them inspiring my mind to hit complete,

sitting on my minds desk causing a complete mess.

Writing is supposed to be fun and involving,

a passion , a hobby, an escape from the world.

Who knew it could be so demanding,

another pressure added to the day,

it’s these thoughts the pile up,

stop the creative process in its tracks.

Those drafts will be completed some day,

have the knowledge that inspiration will strike,

tomorrow or the next day just like it always has before.

Those drafts will one day publish

clutter up the desk no more,

those words will form their own stories,

fly from mind to page.

Just need a spark of inspiration,

to feel the finish line…


Strategies to make the most of the business books you read

The power of a good business book, lies in how you put its lessons into action!

Business books. Powerful tools if used to their full potential.

They can help us level up in life. But, they need to treated as educational books.

Read not only for pleasure but also with a strategy used to get the most out of them. I learn best by reading and doing, so this set of steps is key for me.

Here are 5 steps that I have learned from senior business leaders. These make sure you get the most out of the books you read.

  1. Read the book more than once

In the same way, you would read a textbook. If you only ever read a business book once. You would miss a lot of detail. Which is where the deep lessons come from.

Me, I’ll read a book 2–3 times before I’m happy that I got the context from it.

The first read will be like any other book, I’m reading for enjoyment. I may add stick note markers in this first read.

In the second and third passes of the book, they are essentials tools for me.

Which brings us onto.

2. Note mark the book

I use the sticky thin colored marks but use whatever you have or whatever works best for you. At this stage, I’m marking out pages or lines that interest me. Those that I have more to learn from.

Those sections of the book ill go into much deeper detail later on.

Which brings us onto.

3. Take detailed notes

Each of those things I bookmarked?

As I go through my second and third passes of the book. I’ll be taking detailed notes on each of those sections and how they apply to me or my situation.

I’m looking at:

How does this lesson apply to me or my situation

What action can I take away from this

How do I take that action and take it into my day to day business

I will often fill a notebook during this process. That notebook stays with the book afterward.

Yes, most of my reading and evaluation is done while traveling. My laptop is huge so I don’t get much done in coach. I work on this instead.

4. A 90-day action plan

The actions I noted down in my notebook earlier?

Well, I have to hold myself accountable to put them in place. That means an action plan.

I give myself no more than 90 days to put them in action and review them.

For example, I give is standing meetings — this idea I was able to put in place the next day.

Others like something that affects culture or how we do business?

Well those take longer to put in place and review, so they take the 90 days.

Regardless of the timeline, because I have a plan and a set of actionable steps. I have something to hold me accountable to myself.

Action plans really do work, on so many levels.

5. I review the top 3 books in my collection often

The top 3 changes. They make the list based on how impactful they have been for me.

Those books, I revisit once a year. More if needed. Often if I have a problem I can refer to those books for some insight.

Learning by reading works for me. This is why having a strategy around my reading is key.

Final Thoughts

These books as I said can help us level up. They are also great for helping us to work problems through.

The best way to learn from the material and the insights is to have a strategy. That and actions you can be accountable for.

This is what works for me and others. I hope it is also helpful for you as well.

How to generate effective writing ideas

Tip’s and tools I use to make sure I always have writing ideas ready

Sounds simple right?

Just sit down and start writing. As any writer will tell you, if only it were that simple.

Sometimes the word’s flow and other times its a struggle. Having a stash of writing ideas ready to use is no bad thing. Especially when you are struggling to write.

The first thing I do is loosen up by writing creatively which I’ve described in this story:Taking the first steps in PoetryPoetry is another great way to flex your writing muscles. Its also one with few rule’s!

The process of writing creatively with no pressure opens up and loosens the

mind. If you can get rid of the risk of writer’s block before you start then that’s a good first step.

For me, that exercise gets me into the mindset to get my ideas on paper. Something else may work for you.

Once that’s done then I follow these steps:

  • I use a Saturday as my ideas day, which gives me a specific time and day where I focus only on idea creation. It means I have a purpose-built time to focus only on that work. It also gives me a week to think about my writing. That breathing space lets my subconscious get creative.
  • I get my list of ideas out. For this is an A4 legal pad because I like to still write with a pen and paper some of the time. An excel spreadsheet or word document may be an upgrade on this.
  • Normally I’m able to come up with at least 5 of those ideas myself. Once I get through the ideas in my head, I move to social media and look at what’s trending. If I feel I can write about a topic then it goes into the list.
  • I like to try and list out around 10 ideas at a time. If I have more then that’s great, but 10 is the minimum. These can be anything and everything. I never limit myself to the topics I could write about.
  • The next step is to run my idea’s through google. Anything that people are searching for is worth writing about. If it’s only you that’s searching the topic, then chances are it’s not going to be so interesting.

Those are the steps that work well for me. I have been using this system for the last 6 months. It’s given me the tools I need to write consistently and without the pressure to generate ideas out of thin air.

Like anything else writing is a process. Starting with step 1, if there is a consistent process and approach to idea generation. Your chances of success will increase.

The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard

Maybe, Maybe not, but it is at least fancier…

Maybe I’m old fashioned but I love a fountain pen. There is something so functional about their design.

Then there is the way they feel when your writing on the page.

But they are a bit like listening to music on vinyl.

If you’re into it, then its the purest way of indulging yourself and your hobby.

The main issue is it’s a pain to set them up and get going. Then there is the cleaning and the maintenance.

A keyboard is just much easier and quicker. Which is a shame because you don’t get the same feeling.

I used to try to write my first drafts with my beloved pen. It took ages, then I had to type it all out. By the time I had done that it was an hour or so wasted.

Plus I would be editing as I went which was a nightmare. I quickly changed to using the keyboard and haven’t looked back.

I still use my pen for notes and for day to day business. But it’s no longer a writing tool which is a shame.

I’m interested to know if you’re taking the time to read this what your opinion is?

Do you prefer a pen or keyboard?

Please leave a comment I would be interested in your opinion.

Taking the first steps in Poetry

Poetry is another great way to flex your writing muscles. Its also one with few rule’s!

Poetry, the ultimate in short storytelling.

If you have been thinking of flexing your creative writing muscles. It’s a great place to start.

There are very few rules in poetry at least when you’re starting out. It’s more about free thinking and expression.

You need some structure to the verses but that’s really about it. What you do within those is up to you.

As a way to start writing short stories and fiction, poetry is pretty hard to beat.

Got writer’s block or need an exercise that gets you into the zone?

Poetry again is great for that, you don’t need to share it and it doesn’t need to make sense. What it will do is open up your mind, get you writing, and provide some inspiration.

Since there is no word count and minimal editing required, the pressure to produce the goods is not there.

If you have ever thought about trying it, I’d say give it a go.

Poetry as an art form for a writer is seriously underrated. It’s a very useful tool to get your mind ready for a day’s writing. It will also take you to places as a writer that you never thought you would go.

Poetry has taken me into the world of short storytelling and longer fiction pieces. Something I never thought possible.

Switching to poetry on my writing days when I start to struggle also keeps me in the zone for longer.

What are you waiting for? Give it a go today!

I tried Grammarly, here is why you should too

It’s a great tool to learn how to improve your writing

Let’s get this out of the way first. I’m not being paid by nor am I in anyway connected to Grammarly. I simply tried the free version and saw a huge improvement in my writing. Because of that I wanted to share.

Writing tools, they are everywhere. So is the advice on what to use. It can be confusing, there is so much information online.

As someone who started writing online recently. I resisted that advice for a long time.

Why would I want to write in a program where a computer tells you how good your writing is?

It’s a valid question.

There are people who will insist that it’s pointless and won’t help you in the long run. They believe that the computer will take over writing for you.

For the rest of us though, these free to use tools can be invaluable. Many of us who decide to write don’t have a formal education in it. Writing is hard enough without having to worry about structure and grammar all the time.

While we should edit our work without mercy. There is nothing worse than our internal editor showing up to ruin the writing process.

That’s where free writing tools come into their own. You can write in them without distraction. Knowing that when you are finished the software has run through your work. There is a list of tips there that you can action to start the editing process.

This approach works for me, for two reasons:

1. I love a long sentence. These programs train me to keep it short and structured.
2. I struggle with Grammar, if I don’t have help then my writing is hit and miss.

For structure I use another program called Hemmingway which I wrote about here:Trying HemmingwayA game changer for writers?

Once I’m done writing the story and reviewing it in Hemmingway. I move onto Grammarly.

Once that review is done, I move onto Medium and format it there. The last step is that I then read out loud, make any changes, and publish.

How Grammarly helps me in this process is:

– It gives me suggestions to clean up my spelling, grammar, and punctuation
-It gives direction to the clarity of my writing. The direction, the engagement, and the clarity of what’s on the page come from the suggestions provided by the software.

As a free resource (there is a premium option) it’s fantastic. I don’t know of any other resource, that helps me as much in my writing.

Over time, my writing has improved. My understanding of grammar and punctuation has also increased and it’s helped me find my voice.

As a result, I spend less time using these programs to edit, which leaves me more time for writing. The engagement in my writing has increased and as a result, I find myself motivated to write even more.

If you have read the advice about these tools and thought it was all just hype. I would say take another look and spend 5 minutes exploring them.

I think you would be pleasantly surprised at what they have to offer and the lessons we can learn from using them.

Getting Creative — The Brave Writing Choices

Experimentation comes with risks, but its the only way to improve

The first brave choice any writer makes is publishing.

What started for me as a series of listicles or even worse dumping thoughts on a page, has taken a turn.

I’ve realized that to improve I need to experiment.

If I stick to what I know and I’m comfortable with I’ll never improve.

This is not about money or followers or stat’s, I enjoy writing and want to be the best writer I can be.

That means being brave which in my case means trying to be creative.

You see my first love is non-fiction.

As much as I enjoy fiction, I’m a binary kind of person.

I can thank being an engineer for that.

To get out of my comfort zone I need to embrace other forms of writing.

Today that experiment was poetry, which I must say I enjoyed.

Something I would never have imagined myself writing.

The opportunity to experiment was there and I’m glad that I took it.

What’s next?

That’s a good question and I’m not too sure.

Getting out beyond my comfort zone is a must if I want to improve.

Writing in different styles and genres. Improving my editing skills. These are all areas I need to delve into and its scary.

Until I started writing I had no idea how intimidating it could be.

The brave the choice to publish, how steep the learning curve is and how big the world is for a writer.

If your willing to be brave and experiment there are a whole world of possibilities.

Conventional wisdom says we should find a niche and stick to it to be successful.

That might be true but the world is full of brave choices.

They almost always lead to something amazing and unexpected.

The first brave choice as a writer is always hitting the publish button, the second?

Well that’s up to you.

Trying Hemmingway

A game changer for writers?

Whether you are a reader or a writer on medium.

Its hard to escape the hint that we should be using the editing application Hemmingway.

Articles referencing this free tool are everywhere.

The knowledge implied is that you can write whatever you want, and you may have some success.

But to be good at writing, like everything else in life, we need to understand that the devil is in the detail.

Editing is the key to being successful.

Its also the key to improving the final draft that gets published for others to read.

To start with I was focused on the writing and hitting the publish button, so I would have at most 2 drafts.

That was it good, bad or indifferent it was getting published.

As a writer starting off that was neesecary to get me over the fear and to make sure I published.

As time has gone on I have focused more and more on the editing, which I hope shows in my writing.

But as much as I read about it, I stayed away from the Hemmingway app.

I did that because I wanted to focus on building my own editing skills.

Today was the day I took the plunge and tried Hemmingway for the first time.

I ‘am so glad that I did.

The app simplifies sentence structure, cuts out adjectives and removes use of passive voice.

As a copy and paste interface its fantastic and even better online its free.

Going forward ill be using this as my go too editing tool for two reasons:

  • Its going to help me improve my editing skills and for that reason alone I should have used it much sooner
  • Its a free and easy to use interface and that’s something I love

There are paid for versions but for me the free option will work.

If you too have been reading all about Hemmingway and wondering what the fuss was all about give it a go.

Im sure you will be happy you did.

*I have no affiliation with the app at all, I’m just so impressed by it that I had to write about it*

Beginners Guide to Writing

If you ever wanted to try, there is no time like the present

Image by George Walker

If you have always wanted to write and didn’t know where to start, or if writing is a more recent dream, I have great news for you, its never been easier to get started, to learn from others on the same journey as you, and if you wish its never been easier to publish.

Writing can be a strange and frustrating pursuit if you let the process take control of you but it really doesn’t have to be that way.

There are so many ideas about what writing is and is not, and when you can really call yourself a writer.

None of them actually matter, the truth is writing is such a personal thing that, the only correct answer is the one that fulfills your passion and yuor expectations.

The important thing is to start at a pace that works for you, you may be shy, you may not know where to start and like most of us who want to write, you may be overthinking the whole thing.

The great thing to remember is that their really is no right or wrong, a word on the page or the screen, leads to a sentence, which leads to a paragraph which can lead to something magical.

It doesn’t matter if it takes five minutes, days, months or longer as long as its comfortable for you.

You could start journaling for yourself with pen and paper, a lot of people starting out enjoy the challenge, it lets us play around with words and structures and also has the really wonderful benefit of getting thoughts and feeling out of your mind onto a page, reducing stress and anxiety and also clearing your mind.

You could set up a blog, all you really need is a fantastic resource like medium or a website such as a free WordPress site and a smartphone and your all set to share your writing with the world.

You can draft and edit and play about with your writing as much as you like, and if you want to publish your writing and share it with others your one simple click of the mouse or touch of the screen away from becoming a published author.

As your confidence builds and if you want to pursue writing as something more than a hobby you could even apply to join the medium partner program and be paid for your work.

Again what you do with your writing, if and how you share it and if you want to make it more than a hobby are all up to you. No one is right and no one is wrong, what works for you is best.

One thing I can guarantee you though from someone who spent a long time, overthinking it and terrified to share anything in public, is that your far from alone, there is a whole community who stood in those same shoes and made the first step. In turn that means there is huge amount of help, resources and support out there to get you started and writing with confidence.

So what’s stopping you?