Time on Your Hands? Sharpen Your Writing Skills
Putting pen to paper can be therapeutic and productive during difficult times.
Stressful external events like the current pandemic can foment exhausting internal dialogue, but times like these also present us with the opportunity to greatly improve our communication skills, so that when the storm passes — and they always do — you are better prepared for what comes next. In fact, clear communication is one of the most important business skills we can master in our lifetimes, whether we manage people, market to them, write reports, give presentations, teach others or simply deal with a lot of emails.
But here's a challenge that will help you benefit from this time on every level: Every morning until this (hopefully) subsides, write precisely 300 words about the crisis as you are going through it. Your writing will be fresher and stronger in real time, whether you're writing about getting divorced, fluctuations in your career or anything else. Write about your feelings, your thoughts — the tangible things happening around you, how it is affecting you, your family, your business, your career, your health or other related topics. Pretend you're Hemingway, a news reporter or a political insider; imagine you're writing this as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books, would have. Craft your prose as if you are writing excerpts for the history books.
Write using the most apt, colorful, engaging, evocative words you know. Maybe tap into a thesaurus app on your phone. Describe your emotions or the events in such exquisite detail that your prose really shines. Make this your best writing ever by taking time to carefully edit, improve and hone your words. Write in such a way that any reader today (or 200 years from now) would be able to fully understand what you feel and think about the events happening around you.
Also, edit sharply. Do not write one word more or less than 300. This may mean you have to engage in some serious critical thinking, swapping out or paring down your words to fit this parameter. Boldly cut words that are superfluous, distracting or inexact. Slice off meanderings, and ruthlessly chop out useless asides.
Next, date the page, print it and put it in a notebook or a folder. You will be channelling your fears and concerns in a healthy way, greatly improving your writing skills and creating a powerful chronicle of this time in world history.
Wendy Keller is a literary agent specializing in nonfiction books intended for adults, especially business, science and self-help. She is the author of 31 published books, most recently, The Ultimate Guide to Platform Building (Entrepreneur Press). Wendy teaches nonfiction authors how to sell their books to the best publishers at www.BookProposalWorkshop.com.
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