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Just. Get. Writing.

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

It was October half term when I really got stuck into some research. Blogs, Youtube videos, websites, forums. I soaked up as much information as I could from others. Their journeys, their businesses, their starting points. It didn’t take long to spot the trends that other writers were following as they developed their writing dreams and I was soon immersed in the realm of SEO, keywords and brand voice.

I had saved video after video into my ‘Watch Later’ folder and screenshotted pic after pic from other Content Writers doing well on social media. Having the time to digest it all was welcome, as there was much learning to be done. While elements of writing professionally felt comfortingly natural to me and not a million miles away from skills I had developed throughout my career, I knew there was lots to learn. And I enjoyed it. Genuinely. Just like one of my top set Year 10, I enjoyed learning again. I realised that, tedious CPD aside, I have not put myself in a position to learn for a long time. And, two weeks later, after digesting all the blogs, videos and websites of those already excelling in writing professions, the one lesson that really stood out, the one that reminded me that I am capable of change was an Instagram post that said just 3 words. Just get writing.

So I did. I heeded that advice and within minutes was so glad I did. I shut down my to-do list. Website. LinkedIn. Instagram. Google Ads. Logo. Bio. Services. All gone. Just for a few days. I was confident that I had gotten my brain around the basics of what was required if I was going to become a freelance writer anytime soon. Now was the right time to close all tabs and just open up a good old fashioned Word document. No Powerpoints. No frills. No images. Just good old Arial 11.

But where to start? When I sat back to consider the last time I wrote for pleasure, the last time I wrote a paragraph that wasn’t helping a student pass their exam, recollecting the event was tricky. University. Our Short Stories portfolio. It must have been. Even then, I had to do it, it was part of the course. It did feel different though. A collection of short stories. Go. No rules, no themes. Freedom. I remember enjoying it too. 5 stories, all with a subtle link binding them. The writing, the sharing of the final drafts with peers. The feedback and the editing. I loved it. I loved letting others read my work and adding some constructive thoughts of my own to theirs. And so, understandably, 15 years later, I was a little rusty.

Write what you know. That’s what they say. As much as I wanted this new venture to lead to a future away from the classroom, it had been my life for so long. My day to day, my development, my professional focus. Once I got warmed up I found myself good to go. With a few loose titles on the post it note next to me, I got writing. I used the classic Blog title ‘5 ways to…’ and wrote a piece to share my tips as an experienced secondary school Head of Year. Words flowed. It was cathartic too, you know.

I’m a big believer in sharing good practice and believe we don’t actually do it enough. I’ve sat down with new teachers, experienced teachers and struggling teachers and endeavoured to help them using the benefit of experience. But I have never written good practice advice. And it felt good. So I went again. I focused on the day to day thoughts and quirks I experience when walking around a school campus. The stressed Geography teacher, forever chained to the photocopier. The marking. The bottom set boys. The marking. It got me used to seeing my voice on paper again. I like to think the voice that plays in my head every day is a cheeky, humorous one. Some are anecdotes to be shared. Some definitely never aired. I think these thoughts lend themselves to the page well. But I felt like a bit of reassurance would be sensible.

So I shared a few pieces with a colleague to test the response. It was positive. Reassuring. It gave me the little boost I desired to write a bit more. A few weeks later I had completed 5 pieces, all teaching related and over the 1000 word mark. I then got excited scouring websites like Pexels to find images I could add to my white pages. Links. I added hyperlinks. And then I sat back to look at my ‘Teaching’ folder in my freshly created G-Drive. Had I just written what I could now call my own blogs? I think so.

The process above was a really good one for a whole host of reasons, but primarily because it just got me writing again. The next task was to try my hand at different styles of writing. Different styles to showcase in my portfolio, that I could add to a website upon completion. I had done a little bit of work for friends and family in the past, writing sections of their websites and product descriptions for their businesses. I added to these for the practice, harnessing a slightly different style that still had that personal character, but with a hint of persuasion about it. This next step would be carefully escorted over to my next Drive folder and, before long, I had a growing portfolio that was demonstrating a range of writing styles and purposes.

I could now re-open my tabs. With my portfolio having a little bit of weight behind it, I could return my attention to my to-do list. The key difference was that just by getting writing and building some momentum doing so, I could work on my website, posts and personal content, safe in the knowledge that I was ready to get stuck into another detailed piece at any given time.

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