Few writers stick to a single form.
We write for different audiences, different purposes, and different platforms.
We write copy for our websites, blogs, newsletters, and social media pages.
We share advice, insights, and snippets of our lives to followers we may never meet but with whom we’ve cultivated a digital connection.
We send emails, pitches, queries, and invoices to build a collaborative network from which our career can hang from.
We research, interview, criticise, and reflect so that we can craft an argument that is entirely our own. Then, we share it.
We use words to conjure worlds real and imagined; we are the tellers of stories.
Most contemporary authors (*obviously disclaimer) have a digital platform, a professional network, and a body of work that includes fiction or non-fiction publications (or both!).
We write a lot.
We are fluid and flexible.
But each of these forms of writing requires a different voice, length, and depth.
Who these works are for differs, as does our motivation behind creating them.
Contemporary writers hold all of these tasks, voices, and audiences in their head, they have to, but these tasks, voices, and audiences can easily become muddled and murky.
Below are three simple strategies any writer can use to help separate and to keep straight all of the tasks, audience, and purposes they need to write for on a daily and weekly basis.
#1 Managing Your Schedule
Create a schedule that supports the different forms of writing you have to complete in any given week.
Weigh your best working hours (morning/evening) against deadlines, priority tasks, and passion projects. You also need to consider your own personal work ethic.
Are you the type of writer who can work on a personal project (novel/course/book) before starting your work day? Or, do you need to tend to professional tasks and save personal projects for evenings and weekends?
You can also batch your tasks. Here’s some examples, you could …
Dedicate your mornings to creative work and afternoons to admin. Decide that you’ll work on your book for three hours on Tuesdays and Thursday. Chose to only reply to email between 2-3pm and let all your clients know.
By batching tasks, you’re allowing yourself to stay in one voice and to write to one audience for an extended period of time rather than toggling back and forward between different tasks.
# 2 Read and Reflect
Before you sit down to a writing task, read something that contains the voice and feeling you want to create.
If you’re writing a blog, you could read one of your previous posts.
If you’re writing a speech for a client, listen to a TED talk.
If you’re drafting an academic article, find one that has a voice or structure you admire.
Alexandra Franzen recommends answering these three questions before sitting down to write:
- Ask yourself who is this work for?
- What do I want them to think or feel?
- What do I want them to do when they’ve finished reading?
The answers to these three questions will direct the style and content of your writing.
# 3 Atmosphere
If you do all of your paid work in a home office, consider choosing a different location for our creative work.
Changing your location will signal to your brain that you are now working on a different task, you are writing for a different audience and for a different purpose.
If space is limited, experiment with changing your position. Decide that your paid work and admin will be completed at the desk, but that creative writing will be done standing up, or even facing in a different direction.
You could also change your atmosphere by dedicating particular music, scents, teas, or other tactile equipment to particular tasks. For example, you only listen to rain sounds when working on your novel; you drink peppermint tea when completing client work; you light scented candles when tending to your author platform.
Writers write to niches and wides audiences, publically and privately. We have our fingers in all different flavoured pies.
Holding all of these different styles and audiences in our mind can lead to muddled copy and confusion, but the above steps offer three simple ways to bring clarity to you and your work.
Do you struggle with this problem in your writing? How do you differentiate writing tasks?
Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.
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