Daphne Gray-Grant, How to Build a Happier and Healthier Writing Habit – InnovaBuzz 415
Daphne Gray-Grant, The Publication Coach
In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Daphne Gray-Grant. Daphne grew up in the newspaper business. Her parents owned a struggling weekly where she worked from the age of 16, even while completing an honours degree in political science at the University of B.C. Eventually, she left the family business to become a senior editor at a major metropolitan daily — The Vancouver Sun — where she worked for 10 years.
After the birth of her triplet children in 1994, she became a communications consultant, and writing and editing coach. She is the author of 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better, and Your Happy First Draft. She has been blogging since 2006 and hosting a YouTube channel since 2017. She strongly believes that the main reason many people can’t write and can’t write quickly is that the school system hasn’t given them the simple tools to do it. Her popular and free weekly newsletter, Power Writing, goes to thousands of readers around the world every Tuesday morning.
In our discussion, Daphne talked to me about:
- How to build a happier and healthier writing habit by starting small
- Why it’s important to separate the writing from the editing and also take a break in between these activities
- The value of asking questions
Janine Kelbach in episode 382 introduced us to Daphne.
Listen to the podcast to find out more.
Listen to the PodcastIncreasing your typing speed can help with your writing. If you can type well, you are going to be a better writer. It means that your hands can keep up with how fast your brain operates. @PubCoach on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet
Show Notes from this episode with Daphne Gray-Grant, The Publication Coach
Key points and takeaways from this episode include:
- Being constantly critical while you’re trying to write makes it very difficult to write.
- Don’t edit as you go. Just keep typing and come back to edit it later.
- Increasing your typing speed can help with your writing. If you can type well, you are going to be a better writer. It means that your hands can keep up with how fast your brain operates.
- Writing with a pen and paper works well when you are thinking, planning, or sorting things out.
- When you are thinking and planning, don’t do it at your desk. Go somewhere you can really relax and let your mind wander in any direction it wants to go.
- Mind mapping allows you to relax and connect with your creative brain so that you can get that “AHA!” moment. It’s a great way to inspire yourself to write.
- Write a question instead of a topic at the center of your mind map. A question is more specific than a topic because your brain will be desperate to answer it. Asking a question really helps set yourself in the right direction in terms of your mind map.
- Do a mind map multiple times until you get that “AHA!” moment. The act of doing more than one is intensely helpful.
- A mind map is not an outline. Just because you’ve written something on your mind map doesn’t mean you have to write about it in your final piece. At the same time, just because you haven’t put something there, doesn’t mean you can’t write about it in your final piece. A mind map is just a tool that you use to inspire yourself.
- To avoid editing as you write, reduce your type font size to 3. When it’s too small to read, you can’t edit it.
- Dictation is a great technique that many people use for writing.
- There is no such thing as writer’s block. Writer’s block is just a term invented by people who didn’t want to write.
- Procrastinators don’t do it out of laziness. The reason people procrastinate is either because they have given themselves a job that is too jaunting or they haven’t developed a happy and healthy writing process.
- Write for only a short amount of time but do it every day. Writing is like exercise. It requires conditioning. Start with 15 minutes a day.
- Talking to ourselves in the third person voice is very helpful to overcoming the negative chatter that we tell ourselves.
- Your only job is to produce quantity when writing your first draft. If you can produce that quantity, put it aside for a while to let it rest, and then go back to it to edit it, you are going to make a higher quality product.
- Write your first draft and set it aside for a while before you edit so that you can essentially unfamiliarise yourself with it.
- People who are so quick to edit either whilst they write or soon after often don’t realise that they are picking the worst time to edit because they are too familiar with it. Do something highly distracting so that the text becomes as unfamiliar to you as possible.
- Aim for an average sentence length of 14-18 words. You can have your occasional 50 words sentences but bounce it off with 5-7 words sentences.
The Buzz – Our Innovation Round
Here are Daphne’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.
- #1 thing to be more innovative – Really care about your customers.
- Best thing for new ideas – Listening and talking to customers.
- Favourite tool for innovation – Pomodoro and time blocking.
- Keep project/client on track – Figure out what their real need is and keep reminding them of it.
- Differentiate – Focus more on the psychology of writing rather than the how-to of it.
To Be a Leader
Always be prepared to allow yourself more time than you think is conceivable. Give yourself lots of time to do whatever job it is that you need to do.
You can reach out and thank Daphne through her website.
Daphne suggested we have a conversation with sports marketer turned writer and publisher, Dave Doroghy. So Dave, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Daphne Gray-Grant.
Cool Things About Daphne
- She produced a corporate newspaper in less than two days a week.
- She graduated with honours from the University of B.C.
- Her triplets are two girls and a boy.