A Few Odd, Possibly Advanced, Yet Simple Tips for Writers

A few random tips for those who write long things (namely, books), gathered or reinforced from my own experience in writing What’s Best Next: 

1. Starting is often the hardest thing

The best way to start is to just start. That is, don’t wait for a special burst of energy or insight — though, when those things do come, seize them to their max.

2. You have to jump start yourself in the moment of performance

That’s a quote a read somewhere a few years ago. It’s a helpful reminder. When you just start (point 1) and don’t have the burst of energy or creativity, you don’t simply go into your writing cold. You jump start yourself, like starting a car in a freezing Minnesota winter.

To jump start yourself, there are many things you can do. Pray, read some of the Scriptures, do jumping jacks (to get your physical energy up), read a few pages in an author you find inspiring like Seth Godin, review your notes, or do a number of other things. To “just start” doesn’t mean you don’t warm up.

3. Don’t bury the lead

Lead with your most important points rather than starting with something less relevant or irrelevant in an attempt to build up to your most important point. Burying the lead is one of the greatest temptations in writing.

The one exception: John Piper does a great job in many of his books of creating a problem and then resolving it. That’s helpful and interesting and memorable. In those cases, the most important point is the resolution that comes after the problem has developed, which is typically half way through the chapter or so. But even in these cases, you need to start with something super relevant and helpful; the lead in this case should often be the interesting problem you are raising.

More could be said, but these are the top ones that come to mind right now.

(By the way, I call these “advanced” because, although you can easily know these things right from the start, you don’t truly get them until you’ve been through it!)