I’ve done quite a bit of writing over the past few years and people often ask me how I manage to come up with ideas and material so I am going to share with you a tip you can apply to your day to day work.

Fortunately for me I can write material fairly quickly. As you can see from the number of articles on my website I’ve had a fair bit of practice now which has also allowed me to build up a collection of material that can be adapted or at least used to stimulate ideas.

If you are starting to write anything from scratch, you need something to work with in the form of a story, an idea, problem or a message you want to get across. A common practice, certainly in Business Continuity land is to take an incident, there’s plenty of these in the news each week, and use it as a starting point to highlight a particular principle or practice. I’ve done this quite a bit and it can work well because not only does it appear timely and relevant by using an up to date, real life example but the approach demonstrates how Business Continuity practices can be applied to situations people have seen and can relate to.

But what about everyday stuff? Let’s take a common situation. Your boss has asked for a report on the XYZ issue by the end of the week. You don’t know where to begin and every time you read back the first paragraph you’ve written you get that sinking feeling because it doesn’t really ‘hit the mark’ so you delete it and stare at a blank screen knowing that the clock is ticking………………pressure, stress, tick, tock, tick, tock.

So here’s the tip.

If your boss phoned you up right now and asked about the XYZ issue you would just tell them. You would explain it and answer their questions wouldn’t you?  There’s no time to hide or delay so your response would be spontaneous and you would answer most, if not all, points. At worst you will come away with some questions that need investigating and answering.

What does this tell us?

Firstly it should reassure you that you know the answers, you know what to say, you can do this. Let’s get back to your blank screen. Imagine the phone call has come in – what are you saying? Capture this and write it down. It doesn’t matter that it’s not neat and tidy – just write.

I guarantee that after five minutes you will have a series of points to build on. Try it.

As an extension to this don’t fall into the trap of writing everything from beginning to end. There’s no rule that says the introduction has to be written before the conclusion and if you think about it how can you possibly write an introduction for something that doesn’t yet exist? Write the bits you have most material for or like first. You will then find you have material to build on for the subsequent elements.

Give it a go.

By coincidence, my next task today is to write a report so I’ll be ‘on the phone’ for a while now……….

October 9, 2013 at 9:56 am
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