Written by Marisol Dahl
Okay, so we all know the plan.
You know, the plan. The one that our third grade teachers taught us back when we were writing our first paragraphs. You find your topic, brainstorm content, outline and organize, draft and revise.
And then you sit down at your desk, open up a blank Word document, crack your knuckles, and start typing out the best piece of writing man has ever known. You’ve done all your research, you’ve outlined to perfection, the words come magically to you. Your readers are sure to be enchanted. It’s just so easy.
Oh. This doesn’t happen to you? But you’ve followed the plan! What could possibly go wrong?
This happens all too often. A surefire process ends up being a total fail. Instead of a path freeing us from complexity, all it does is keep us frozen in our seats thinking about what terrible writers we are.
Here’s the thing about writing that nobody tells you: it doesn’t have to be hard.
As Dr. Laura Brown writes in the introduction of her book How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide:
I’ve met people who hate to write and I’ve met people who think their writing is no good. But I’ve never met anyone who “can’t write.”
I don’t know about you, but that was pretty refreshing to read.
With over 30 years of experience teaching people how to write, Dr. Brown gets straight to the point about this whole I’m-a-terrible-writer-virus that’s been plaguing us: a new perspective on the writing process.
Sure, research and outlining and revising are still incredibly important steps to the process. But they don’t necessarily have to happen in that order. Instead, Dr. Brown invites us to dive into writing in the way that feels most natural to us. Writing a first draft might happen before coming to a clear understanding of who you’re writing for, or what the true purpose of your piece is. And that’s okay.
Draft before you research. Outline before you brainstorm. Draft, revise, then draft some more. It’s all good.
Dr. Brown’s How to Write Anything champions this message of freedom and flexibility. This easy-to-use reference book is your go-to guide for anything (and I mean anything) you will ever have to write.
We’re so happy to give away a copy of How to Write Anything by Laura Brown to a Life After College reader—it’s one of those books you’ll keep reaching for in years to come.
To enter to win, answer the following question in the comments by Friday, July 18. We will pick a winner and email to let you know!
Comment to be Entered to Win:What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to writing?
About Marisol Dahl
Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached at marisoldahl [at] lifeaftercollege.org and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.