Ease in Writing
Writing Tips from Full Circle Communications
August 2009
My WaPo EssaWaPo logoy
Please check out my essay on composting, which appeared in the July 26 Washington Post. I've heard from quite a few Post readers (not just people I know) with helpful composting advice.

In fact, I was already more laid back by the time the piece was published. It was still a kick to see it in print, although I'll admit to wishing that the byline on the online version is my name and not "Scene and Heard."
About Full Circle

numeralsWriting, editing, and project management for print and online publications

Training and consulting on writing and other communication topics

Have a question about how to tackle an upcoming project?

Visit our website, call 703.212.0349, or send an e-mail.
Join Our Mailing List!
Past Issues
Scan previous issues on such topics as design tips for writers and speechwriting.
Forward to a Friend

Ease in Writing?

"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Foot step chartNote he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just like dance lessons can help get you around the floor with your partner more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two each month so you can improve how your organization communicates in writing.
Daydream to Improve Your Writing
CloudsTurns out the "stop daydreaming!" admonishment you heard as a kid was bad advice.

According to Amy Fries, author of Daydreams at Work, if anything, we should be daydreaming more, not less. That's because daydreaming allows us to tap into parts of our brain that normally close off when we are very focused or are on deadline. Daydreaming allows us to envision and problem-solve. And she calls it the "brain's own critic-free R&D time."

I asked Fries how daydreaming can improve two main types of writing often encountered on the job--a fairly routine project like writing a report and a more creative project like coming up with a tag line for a campaign. She also had suggestions about how to use daydreams productively. Her main points are below. (Read our interview here, or, better yet, read her book!)

For a cut-and-dry assignment, she says, use daydreams to--
  • Plan and organize your piece. Envision all the parts you need to remember to include.
  • Find a way to make it fresh (sometimes a routine piece is the biggest challenge to make fresh, yet that's what we have to do to connect with readers).
  • Give yourself a break. Escapist daydreams relieve stress and give us energy to return to the task at hand.
For a more creative writing assignment, daydreaming helps you to--
  • Germinate ideas. "A vision," she said, "is just an upscale word for 'daydream.'"
  • Connect with your audience as you imagine their reaction. Great for anticipating what to ask in interviews, as well as in the writing process.
  • Problem solve. Again, by accessing more diverse regions of the brain, we make new associations when we least expect them.
So, how can we tap into these great daydreams to become more creative? Fries suggested--
  • Notice them. "Become aware of how ideas and solutions come to  you on and off the job," she said. "Notice your patterns and styles."
  • Make the time and space for daydreaming, especially when you recognize your creative time (walking, driving, right before bed, etc.)
  • Ask "what if" questions to start thinking in more speculative ways.
  • Try something new. We need to fuel our daydreams. Read a new book, listen to new music, even little things to get out of a rut.
  • Record your daydream ideas in a way that works for you. Even if you don't get a chance, however, don't worry. The good ideas that pop up in daydreams tend to pop up again.
DaydreamsDaydreams at Work
Daydream book coverAmy Fries' book, Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers, reveals the role daydreams play in our lives and work. As she describes, some companies, including Google, Gore-Tex, and 3M, expect that part of their employees' work week will be spent daydreaming new ideas.

The book also includes a questionnaire to help you determine your own daydreaming style and shows how daydreaming fosters creativity in science, business, the arts, and other fields.