By Lori Snyder
It’s a fairly safe bet that no one ever woke up and thought, “Hey, I love to write! I think I’ll become a yoga teacher!” In fact, for the vast majority of teachers who start to build a yoga business, it can be a bit of a shock to realize how much writing actually has to happen these days to keep you connected to your community. Blog posts, newsletters, social media posts…it’s a bit never-ending.
If you’re someone who really, really isn’t a huge fan of writing, or who struggles to convert what you know into words—you’re not alone. Here are some tips that will help you write the things you need write with a minimum of angst and suffering.
1. Separate the writing from the editing
Most of us, when we sit down to write, try to make it perfect from the get-go.
Your writing life will instantly get remarkably better if you don’t do that.
Instead, let your first draft be awful—seriously, truly terrible. Just fling the basic idea of what you are trying to say onto the page, without worrying if it’s good at all. Try not to stop and edit or revise as you go.
See, when it comes to writing we have two brains: a writing brain and an editing brain. The writing brain is creative, wild, and free. It needs to run and play and make mistakes or it freezes up. Any hint of censorship or editing panics the writing brain and sends it into an existential crisis, at which time our inner critic starts yelling at us how bad a writer we are.
At this point, we usually give up—when all that has really happened is your editing brain scared the pants off your writing brain.
Editing brain is detail-oriented, discerning, and above all loves clarity. It wants to come in and fix everything. It can be ruthless, but it’s also very, very smart. Like writing brain, editing brain needs to work in private, without writing brain whining, “But I loved that word!”
They are both absolutely necessary to write. But they have to be separated and allowed to work the way they need to work.
Whenever you write something, set aside one time to write and a different time to edit. Take at least an hour—and preferably at least a day—between writing and editing. Don’t try to do them both at the same sitting.
This alone will likely make a huge difference in how writing feels to you.
2. Start in the Middle, Not at the Start
I can’t tell you the number of times, whether I’m writing an article or a book, that I get hung up on creating the right first sentence or paragraph or title and then spin there for a ridiculous amount of time.
Oh, wait. Yes, I can.
Every. Single. Time.
Most “perfect” beginnings of articles or books were written on the third, fourth, or tenth draft. Writers know that trying to write the beginning first is often a recipe for writer’s block. So instead, give yourself permission to skip the beginning and, instead, start somewhere in the middle.
Often, there’s no way to know what the correct beginning is until you’ve written the rest. It’s like sequencing to a peak pose. You can’t plan the warm-ups until you know what the peak pose actually is.
Write from the middle to the end. Then go back and add an opening.
3. Plan out your article/post/newsletter with a rough outline before you start to write
For most of us, it’s really hard to figure out what we want to say at the same time as figuring out the right words to use to say it. These are two different tasks.
Knowing roughly what you want to say before you make the writing process so much easier! Take at least ten minutes to sketch out a plan for what you are going to write before you start writing. It’s okay if this changes as you write, but start with a basic plan in mind.
4. Dictate what you want to say and edit from there
Sometimes, the easiest way to write is to NOT write.
Instead, dictate as though you were simply talking to a favorite student.
Make sure to use a dictation method that will type it out for you as you go—you can even do this on your phone and then email it to yourself.
Once your words are typed out, read it through once and add in anything you’ve forgotten. Then, let it sit for an hour to a few days. After that, go back and edit it to read more smoothly. Take out stumbles and “ums” and such, and add an intro or closing if you need one.
While it’s true that writing and speaking are very different mediums, dictating what you want to say will, at least, give you guidelines you can write from. At best, you’ll have a basically finished post.
You don’t have to think of yourself as a “writer” to write things that connect.
All you need are a few writerly tricks.
So next time you sit down to write a blog post, newsletter, or even a workshop description, pick one of these methods and give it a shot. If it works for you, keep going with it! If not, try another. Mix and match to what works for you.
Most of all, remember that the most important thing to be as a writer is…yourself. Writing is just another way to connect with, love, and help your community—and the more we can all do that, the better we make the world.
Lori Snyder, E-RYT, is a yoga teacher, former studio owner, writer, and editor. She is the founder of Yoga:edit, which helps yoga teachers write their books, blog posts, and teacher training manuals, and her favorite work is helping good people write good things.