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Speech? Blog? Book? Here's How I Just Start

Writing a speech, writing a book, writing a blog post… I realized recently that they all start similarly (at least for me). They differ in revisions and rehearsing, if any. Starting off, I take a moment to think about the subject. I either start with an outline or just start writing (or dictating).

I get a lot of questions about how to start a blog, what to write about, or in the case most recently, perfecting a speech. The hardest part is starting out and putting together the first draft.

To that end, if you’ve got an upcoming talk or want to start blogging, here’s my method on how to start.
1.     Think about the subject, and go through a creative learning process with some research – online and/ or in-person.
2.     Are there requirements or limitations? Delivery style, can you use images, max length, etc. Consider these to narrow the scope.
3.     I want my material to be as authentic and casual as possible, so I typically do not go through a huge brainstorming conquest. Instead, I jot down a few ideas in a loose outline. This helps me think about the flow of the material conceptually.
4.     Go. That is, I either write everything in my head according to the flow I’ve created, or I simply dictate (record myself speaking). This gives me the benefit of allowing my thoughts to flow, naturally.
5.     After completing the first round, I don’t make any edits. Instead, I sleep on whatever I’ve written for a couple days. This allows my ideas to crystallize further while allowing me to come back to version 1.0 with fresh eyes.

It’s simple to start. Let the ideas flow. It’s important to realize that starting out really isn’t as hard as you make it out to be if you approach this more casually and naturally.

From there, it’s about seeking feedback on how to make the draft better, if needed. For my blog posts, for better or worse (you tell me!), I go through two rounds of editing/ read-through. For Postmortem of a Failed Startup: Lessons for Success, I went through four “official” rounds of editing with a number of editors. For my F-Up Night talk in January, I made perhaps three material iterations. I did several practice runs, however.

For any share, it’s important to draw a line in the sand and decide when what you have is ready — refer to Des Traynor’s recommendation on launching a product. You can spend weeks or months (or years) trying to make something perfect. But rarely is it the content that makes your share perfect. Instead, it’s the delivery.

Just start.


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