“I just don’t know how to begin,” some moan. “I hate staring at that empty screen and that #%#^$% blinking cursor,” snap others. “I know exactly what I want to say, but I can’t get started,” complain a few. Fortunately, there’s a simple workaround.

No matter what kind of organization you work for and no matter what your role may be, it’s likely your job involves some writing. If you’ve faced times when the right words wouldn’t come, you know how frustrating that can be.

Instead of starting at the beginning of what you’re writing, why not start somewhere in the middle?

Whether you’re writing formal reports, emails, performance reviews, blog posts, or any of the writing projects that have fallen into your lap, starting in the middle can help you get past that writer’s “block” you feel.

It’s true that written materials tend to be arranged in a linear fashion, with a beginning, middle, and an ending. Most of us were taught to write in just that order. Remember those lessons about outlines and paragraph structure? Open your paragraph with a compelling sentence, use the next two or three sentences to provide support, and then conclude with some kind of summary. Done.

While that structure is an excellent objective, there are no rules demanding you develop it in that order — except for the self-imposed rules in your head.

When I recommend you start writing in the middle, what I’m suggesting is you begin with the main point (or points) that you want to convey. Don’t bother making them fancy or even grammatical — just get them on screen (or on paper).

Early in my career, I wrote on typewriters, which made starting in the middle pretty tricky. Word and its cousins simplify it. Say you’re writing an article about income taxes, and you want to stress the importance of planning, keeping good records, and filing tax forms in a timely fashion. So you type these three sentences, with plenty of blank space between them: “Planning is a critical component of any tax strategy,” “Keeping and organizing the right records will save time and trouble,” and “Create a calendar listing upcoming deadlines.”

By spelling out the key points, you’ve started writing your article. Now go to each and jot down rough statements that either add detail or explain why that point is important. Again, don’t worry about being fancy or grammatical. You’re just organizing your thoughts. For the “records” sentence, you might type random lines like “Look at last year’s taxes to see which categories you’ll need,” “Set up a basic filing system to organize receipts and documents,” and “Check what you’ve gathered to identify any gaps.”

Once you’ve listed out those thoughts, combine them into sentences and paragraphs. You’ll be surprised at how easily they’ll grow into cohesive paragraphs, and how the transitions and other surrounding words will begin to flow. It’s not magic; it’s just doing exactly what your brain does naturally: capturing and rearranging random bits of information.

When the middle of your article is finished (or well on its way), it’s easier to craft a compelling introduction and a logical conclusion. Then read through them to smooth out any jagged edges or rough spots.

The example I used here was for an article, but the same technique will work as well in a proposal, an email, a report, a blog post, or any kind of written communication. The key is letting your thoughts and knowledge find their way to the screen or paper before you start organizing and trying to make them sound fancy. Use this approach and you’ll probably discover you’re a better writer than you realized. You may even stop thinking of writing as torture.

Scott Flood creates effective copy for companies and other organizations. His guide to evaluating freelance creative talent, The Smarter Strategy for Selecting Suppliers, can be downloaded at http://sfwriting.com.

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