There are a lot of ways to communicate your point, but sometimes the simplest vocabulary and the shortest sentences offer the the biggest benefit. While every writer knows and understands that, what’s not so simple is our process for making decisions.
Enter the K.I.S.S. system, which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. (The acronym can also be used to describe Keep It Short and Simple, too.)
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the challenge for a lot of writers is this little thing called “the brain.” This spongy mass tends to get in the way of great writing because it’s easy to “over-think” your projects and what you’re working on. Having a strategy to write is one thing, but thinking about your writing so much that you end up either a) not writing or b) writing something you’re not happy about. Our writing ends up suffering because we feel obligated to write something rather than focus on something we want to write.
If you feel you’re over-rationalizing your projects, then read on because I’ve got good news for you. You can use the K.I.S.S. system to simplify your woes and get back to writing what you want to write. All you have to do is ask yourself these simple questions and limit your responses to one, two or three word answers.
I’d like to help you by using an example. Let’s say you are tasked with writing an e-book about how to use WordPress. Here’s how the K.I.S.S. system can help you:
- 1. What am I writing? – e-book
2. Who am I writing it for? – first-time users
3. What is the format of my project? – how-to, non-fiction
4. What is the primary focus? – explain main features
5. Do I need to do any research for this project? – no
6. Do I need to use any additional skills? – yes, screen shots
7. Is the project paid or unpaid? – paid
8. What do I achieve by working on this project? – money, publication credit
9. Do I own the rights to the content? – no
10. Is there a contract? – yes, work-for-hire
11. Are edits including in the contract? – no
12. Is this a project I want to write or have to write? – have to, money
13. Am I getting paid fairly? – no
14. Is the publisher reputable? – yes
15. How much time will this take? – 10 to 15 hours
Here you can see that fifteen questions, broken down into simple answers, offer a wealth of information. In this example, the writer can see at-a-glance what the project will entail from the legal side of things to the production side. Based on these fifteen questions and responses, is this a project you would take on in your schedule?
If you’re interested in a related topic, I offered a little bit of information on this when I designed some writing exercises to learn word conservation. The K.I.S.S. system can also be applied to the way in which you write as well. A writer’s style is often something that develops naturally over time. Using simple, clear phrases can help improve your writing in some cases, but may not work for every project that you’re writing for.
What kinds of questions would you ask yourself when working on a project? Can you limit your answers like I did?