Let me tell you about a time when planning saved my life.
I’d used various planning tools to help me in my communications and marketing roles, but it wasn’t until I was training to be an English teacher for speakers of Other Languages that the power of planning really came home to me.
We were thrown in the deep end on Day 3 of the class to teach a group of 20 real students for 20 minutes – under observation. This put me well outside of my comfort zone of speaking in front of a group of three people.
I knew what to expect. The tell-tale signs of absolute terror: the wet underarms, shaky voice and – worst of all – the quivering top lip.
But teaching was something I knew I wanted to do, so I put on my big girl pants and decided that the only way that I could ever hope to manage my anxiety around public speaking would be to plan everything I said. Luckily, the lesson planning required for the teaching practice suddenly gave me the freedom to do this without feeling like a complete freak.
And then a funny thing started to happen. I began to see planning as more than a necessary evil. I loved planning. Planning was my lifesaver.
If writing is outside your comfort zone, planning will be your best friend in helping you to conquer whatever anxiety you may have around putting your thoughts down on paper.
Here are three useful tips and insights I gained from my teaching experience:
- Use a simple tool to get your thoughts and ideas down on paper. What I found useful is a tool that I used with my students to help them plan their writing: a spider diagram or mindmap. You may have already used this before, but I find it a quick way to get my ideas out of my head without having to think about how to structure what I’m going to say. Some people also like to use post-it notes to structure what they want to say. Find a way that works for you.
- Do your research. When I was teaching we had to research the particular point of grammar or language and think about the possible struggles learners from different backgrounds might have with it. Research your topic. Look at articles, statistics, quotes from leading experts in your field. Also, ask yourself about your potential clients’ issues or challenges and what they might want to know.
- Do an outline. The lesson planning in teaching covered the different stages of the learning process and activities that I would do at each stage. It kept me from straying into the dangerous waters of freestyling, which, for an introvert like myself, is sudden death.For you, sudden death may be the blinking cursor on your screen. Having an outline developed from your mindmap or post-it exercise will help you manage the overwhelm of the writing process.
Using these simple planning tools and methods can go a long way to helping you build your confidence to keep writing. If you’re struggling with maintaining a blog to build your authority and brand awareness, get in touch to find out how I can help you.