How to Start Writing

Nina Mehta
Aug 11, 2017 · 3 min read

Ditch your laundry list of topics you want to write about. Ignore all the outlines you started months, nay, years ago. They’ll be useful later. Maybe.

My biggest writing secret is getting down what I have on my mind the moment the idea strikes. Usually it’s in the morning when the internet is quiet and my mind has time to wander.

Start scribbling

Don’t worry about an introduction, conclusion, the flow, grammar, any of it yet. Edit later. Just get your raw message down. Ignore finding the perfect tool. Choose an editor that’s familiar (email draft, notes app on your phone, a slack message). Start with what feels comfortable and known. That might help you discover you are already a writer!

Post privately

Quietly publish your post. Don’t tweet your post, share it, or add it to a publication. Do nothing. I don’t recommend Medium because it automatically promotes articles. Publish somewhere less smart like a Wordpress or Tumblr. Start by just practicing clicking the big button. Consider this a practice round Practice going live. Something magically happens in our minds when our works shifts from draft to live.

Do that again and again until you feel brave enough to share it with one or two friends. They will likely be kind and engage with your work to help build your writing confidence. You can share it with me!

Edit immediately

Sometimes I edit from my phone on the train ride into work if it’s a short post. Be sure anything live and in public is true, reflects your beliefs, and is error free. For beginners, publish within 1–3 hours of your first draft. If you have more to say or it doesn’t capture exactly what you meant, edit the post, delete what’s unclear, or write a follow up post later.

My writing desk at home

Building Readership

If you want people to read your post, write something short. Choose a clear headline. Don’t overthink it or worry about link baiting.

Have a lot to say? Like a lot, a lot? Publish part 1 of a series. A A series can help you also build momentum and encouragement to keep going.

What to write about

Write about whatever is on your mind, something you’re trying to sort out, or a summary of an experience you had. As you write more often, you’ll figure out what you enjoy writing about. Do whatever that is, more.

A nice shortcut for business writing is transforming a thoughtful email into a public post. This works well if you have any “how-to” emails, like How to start a book club.

“But Ninaaaaaaaaaa, writing is still hard!”

Of course it is hard. It’s a real skill. People spend their entire lives workshopping their writing and perfecting their skill. So yeah, it’s hard sometimes.

But I have good news for you. Like everyone else, you’ll get better at it by simply doing it more. Here’s some depressing but also helpful advice a professor once gave me: There’s so much content out there, that unless you’re internet famous, very few people have the time or interest to read or hear everything you have to say. Start by just publishing for yourself and let that be enough.

The Ligature

for design leaders and their team

Nina Mehta

Written by

designer, writer, artist /

The Ligature

for design leaders and their team

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