Writers, Let Your Writing Ripen
When I get an idea for an article, I usually stop what I’m doing. Immediately.
The nudge in my mind is like a lightning bolt, often interrupting my day job where I write marketing copy for clients.
My habitual process is to quickly open a new tab, start a ‘new story’ on Medium, and let the words pour from my fingertips, like a well flowing tap.
In the past, I’d write as much as possible. Then I’d quickly find an image, and then hit publish.
After all, the urgency of the inspiration hit me so much like a bolt from the blue that it felt pertinent to push it into the world with the same gusto.
Patience has never been one of my virtues — I’m the kind of person that has to write in a birthday card within hours of buying it, and the person that has to unpack the suitcase as soon as I’m in my hotel room. I find it difficult to not take action straightaway, so trying a new tactic was going to prove challenging.
For example, I never buy those ‘ripen at home’ avocados. They just annoy me. They’re rock hard, and then you wait a week to have your hipster smashed avocado on toast on a Saturday morning and guess what — they’re still hard.
My approach to pretty much everything in life was to have it now. Immediate gratification.
But in the quest to become a better writer, I decided to try another approach.
I decided to just let my writing rest for 24 hours — no more than that, because I might lose the bottle to publish it. But what I found was that by leaving the seed of the article for 24 hours, new shoots in my mind began to sprout.
Sure, my body was still electrically eager to publish immediately, but by leaving my words to rest on the page, I came back to them when I wasn’t so fired up and could think more rationally about how to improve them from a technical standpoint.
Here’s what I learned:
- The image is really important. Scan for one until it feels right with the overarching take away piece.
- If the piece needs it, look for more quotes to support what you’re saying.
- Assess your work in terms of providing value to the end reader.
- Tweak the title, and think carefully about the kinds of tags you’re using.
My followers started improving, and I got accepted into more publications. Finally, I was committing to the business of writing, not just the process.
When you get ideas that feel like a waterfall, it’s easy to just pour forth a stream of consciousness, letting your soul wax lyrical on some particular topic.
But that has to be balanced with what the audience needs. What you’re solving for them. What the search engines are going to pick up.
The delicious feeling of satiated creativity has to be carved into practical takeaways for the reader on the other side of a screen.
I still won’t buy under-ripe avocados.
But I do now see the beauty of letting more meaning unfold when the urge to write strikes.