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How One ADD Writer Focuses and Cranks Out Drafts

Carol Tice

By Jessi Stanley

I’m constantly coming up with ideas. Until recently, however, I wasn’t doing anything to develop those ideas.

Then I was inspired to try a freewriting approach that helps this ADD writer actually start writing. This post, in fact, is a result of that system.

With my system, I can grab hold of ideas as they speed through my mind and easily generate lots of copy.

My inspiration

A recent memoir writing project about the singer/songwriter Bob Dylan inspired me to develop my system – in four stages:

  1. In reading about Dylan, I discovered how prolific he’s been and how he seems to have ideas sort of floating around in his head waiting for him to write them down.
  2. Then I studied memoir style by reading an essay about the poet Sylvia Plath. I was impressed to learn she could write two to four poems per day. This got me thinking that she must have had a bunch of ideas, too.
  3. I thought about my own ideas and all my past journaling. I had easily and quickly filled notebooks by freewriting, or writing whatever came to mind.
  4. I started thinking how I could apply freewriting to my own writing needs. Maybe I, too, could be prolific if I could stop thinking so much and start writing.

My system

The system is simple.

The goal is to stop thinking and start writing. This is NOT focused final-draft writing (although it can be used to generate a first draft).

Instead, it’s like free association or brainstorming. Just write whatever comes to mind.

There are only three rules.

  1. Freewrite about possible topics.
  2. Make a separate Word document for each idea (as ideas arise).
  3. Write for about one hour, as fast as possible without stopping to edit.

The first time I did this, I ended up with three separate Word docs for three different blog posts. I jumped back and forth between the different docs as ideas for the different posts came to mind.

The second time, I ended up with four Word docs (that is, four topics).

On a few other occasions since then, I used a variation of this system to generate copy for a single topic. The process was the same in that I picked a topic and wrote whatever came to mind. I just didn’t time myself or worry about generating additional topics.

Could it help you write?

This system can help many would-be writers fight “analysis paralysis” and start writing drafts.

Now that I’ve finished my Dylan project and this blog post, I plan to start using the one-hour system at least once a week to generate copy for future writing projects.

How do you bust through distractions and get your writing done? Tell us in the comments below.

Jessi Stanley is a freelance writer and editor/ghostwriter in Greenville, NC. She’s @stanleyjessica on Twitter.