When you have writer’s block, you can stare at a blank Google Doc or talk out loud.
But those options aren’t ideal sometimes.
- Talking out loud: We talk fast. So we say a lot. It’s unfiltered and seems to make sense at the time. But your tone of voice, speed, and pauses are verbal — they don’t translate into a written medium. A full page of transcribed audio can be completely unusable.
- Staring at a blank page: You think you have a lot to say… until you sit in front of your computer. The blank page. The blinking cursor. It’s hard to know where to begin.
Luckily, there’s a third approach: It’s what I call the Texting Method.
The Texting Method is what it sounds like: type your ideas to a friend in a series of texts.
Why the Texting Method works
It works for a few reasons:
Prioritization is built in: Texting with your thumbs takes more effort than talking or typing with a keyboard. “Is this worth the effort to type out?” This helps you focus and make every word count.
Physicality: Texting is usually done with friends, so the physical action of texting puts you in a positive state of mind. It’s casual and informal. It’s much easier to press send on a message to your friend than it is to hit publish.
Real audience: You have a natural instinct for self-preservation. This was originally for making sure you didn’t get eaten by lions, but now it’s to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself. With the Texting Method, you’ll try harder than if you were just typing to yourself.
The Texting Method rules
The Texting Method should be useful for the texter, and easy for the recipient.
- Ask if your friend is up for doing the Texting Method
- Don’t expect the recipient to read, respond, or ask questions
- Be open to reciprocating if your friend wants to try it too
- Allow the texter to text you
- You don’t have to read the texter’s messages in real-time or at all
- You can offer to ask questions or give encouraging replies (“Hmm interesting”) but it’s completely optional
Why the recipient should simply listen
In the Texting Method, the recipient simply…does nothing.
First, it’s more practical if your friend doesn’t have to ask questions.
You want to make it easy for your friends to participate. You don’t want to do this in two weeks. You want to hash it out now.
Second, the key is to explore your own ideas.
If your friend asks questions, the questions themselves will lead you down different paths. The idea behind the Texting Method is to help you uncover what was hidden in you all along so you don’t necessarily want external input.
Third, it taps into your natural desire not to embarrass yourself.
The Texting Method works regardless of whether your friends read what you say or not. You still get the benefit of typing to a real audience. Given your natural instinct of self-preservation, you will try a bit harder to impress them and say something that makes sense.
Once you have your baseline texts, you can always move to a different platform. For example, I like copying and pasting my iMessages into a Google Doc. Then I’ll flesh out the article from there.
The important thing is to get writing and then iterate from there.
Note: You can use the Texting Method to draw out content from others too. This is particularly useful for getting content out of a client, so you can write in their voice. You can drive the texting conversation forward with follow-up questions.