Seven ways to take the stress out of writing

Seven ways to take the stress out of writing

To kick off the autumn, I’ve just sent out another email in my ‘writing for architects’ series. (If you’d like to receive these straight into your inbox, send me a message saying so here. My emails are rare enough that they should come as an out-of-the-blue bonus each time.)

Here, then, is my latest email:

I’m a great believer in taking the stress out of writing. When I used to teach creative writing, I’d remind writers that they just needed to sit down and write a few hundred words, and then, after a good few months of sitting down like this, the masterpiece might – or might not – follow. Now that I work with architects, the good thing is that those few hundred words are what it’s all about. It’s writing with a clearly defined purpose. So consider yourself lucky.

But there are other, more practical, ways to take the pressure off and get the words down on paper:

Stop thinking of writing as one scary task. It’s made up of different stages: the thinking part, the drafting part, the reshaping part, the proofreading part. Each of those stages warrants its own line (and then its own tick) on your to-do list.

Build some scaffolding in the form of headings to keep you on the right track, even if you then take them down (just like you would scaffolding).

If you’re writing an award submission or bid, turn the criteria into friendly questions that help you work out what you need to say.

If you’re responding to a tricky email, delete the name in the ‘To’ box. It’s surprising how liberating this is. It frees the brain and takes away from that fear of pressing ‘Send’ by mistake.

If you’re writing about a project, put the floorplans and photographs away. Think about what the building means to you and to the client, and let that guide your writing. The words should start to flow.

And, finally, don’t spend too long on it. There comes a point where you have to let go. Send it off into the world, just as I’m going to do with these words now.