Getting Writing Done

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I’ve been doing GTD for about 6 years. And when I talk to people about GTD I find myself returning to about the most amazing aspect of GTD to me: that I can write so much more easily. If you suffer writer’s block, this post is for you.

Because I used to SUFFER from writer’s block. Gabrielle Lusser Rico’s book WRITING THE NATURAL WAY initially helped. But, it was not until I’d been doing GTD for about a year that my mind was cleared to the point where I could really write freely.

The key for me has been one idea, one piece of paper. Put the idea on paper, then put the paper on a conference table. Then put the rest of the ideas on the table. Then re-arrange the ideas so they clump together.



Rough organizing saves me having to write the first three drafts.  In the old days of writing long hand, I did not have ideas on paper until writing. But when the ideas are all strung together, they are hard to reorganize. Today, I put the nub of an idea on a card. Then another, then another. Until my mind sweep about what I’m writing is complete (30 minutes for a big project).

Then I do the card clumping into themes. Once I have card clumps, only then do I open a word processor … or, PowerPoint. Geoffrey Moore once told me that he writes his books in PowerPoint. And I did not get it then. But I do now. Writing powerfully is about marshalling ideas. That accumulate over time, and which breed in re-telling an important story.

Writing is research. Writing is reflecting and searching and re-searching. Writing is refactoring. The more modular and encapsulated the ideas are (think 3×5 cards) the easier is the gradual iterative discovery of the message. Writing is about discovery, not performance.

And, PowerPoint is a mid-point between cards and long strings of text. Where it is easy to drop in screen snaps and arrange them any way you like on the page.

Having ideas all have homes (cards, someday maybe lists) outside my head, has freed my mind to rough organize my way to good-enough writing results quickly. And more and more, fast writing is essential.

Bill Meade