Here are the rules I made for myself today to be a productive worker and a better writer.
1. Turn off your web browser. It’s not enough to minimize it. To really stop getting distracted by email and web surfing, you need to close your email program and web browser. If need be, disconnect your modem. My most productive morning in August happened when our cable was cut off. No phone + no email = pure productivity.
2. Refresh your writing with inspiration from other writers. I enjoyed reading 73 Ways to Become a Better Writer. These are the compiled suggestions of lots of different people. I already do a lot of the suggestions on this list, but I’m inspired to try some new things.
3. Don’t only READ your writing – LOOK at it too. Despite years of art classes (thanks mom!), I have spent my adult life telling myself I’m a writer, not a visual person. When I applied for a technical writing job a couple years ago, I said emphatically in the interview “I don’t do graphics and I don’t think visually.” Lucky for me, the man just laughed, hired me, and taught me to use Adobe Illustrator. I later learned that he was a graphic designer turned technical writer, so he knew not to worry too much about what I said I couldn’t do.
Today I’m working on a training DVD script. As I select the visual images that will accompany the voice-over, I finally realized I work visually all the time. Every time I choose the placement of a paragraph break. Each bulleted list. Every picture uploaded into a PowerPoint presentation. Most of us will never become graphic designers or professional artists, but we can still look at our work with fresh eyes – the eyes of the reader, the user, or the learner.