Under Pressure? Deadline Looming? What to Do When Writer’s Panic Sets In
American Management Association,
October 25, 2006
…Here, several journalists, PR professionals and writing coaches share secrets to getting the words on the page when deadline panic starts to set in.
- The computer is your friend. When stuck staring at a blank computer screen, Wendy Beckman, public information officer at the University of Cincinnati, suggests pretending your computer is a friend who has asked ‘What do you have to write about?’ and then typing the answer onto the screen. This approach may lessen the pressure-induced panic that keeps writers from moving forward. ‘Just put it down exactly as you would say it to someone in person,’ says Beckman, author of the book Communication Tools Made Easy. ‘At least it gives you something on the screen,’ she says. ‘You can edit it later.’
- Clustering. If your mind seems pulled in a thousand directions, organization may be your problem, and clustering is one approach that may help, according to Beckman. After writing your topic in the center of a blank page, circle it and record every related thought that enters your mind as branches or bubbles off the main thought. Do not worry about using complete sentences, stresses Beckman. Once finished, use these thought bubbles to outline and thus organize your paragraphs. ‘Clustering works whether you know nothing about the subject or whether you know too much and need to organize it,’ says Beckman. “It shows you the gaps in your knowledge and what you need to do next to fill in those gaps. It helps you prioritize and organize the flow of your writing. It can be circular and help you touch back on something you mentioned at the beginning.'”