When you’re overthinking your writing
My husband and I just ate the worst lo mein we have ever ordered from any restaurant.
There’s a local Chinese restaurant that’s closing due to the owner retiring and my husband really wanted to support them one last time. So we ordered a few items, including pork lo mein. Pretty standard.
We sat down for dinner and my mouth was watering. I piled the rice and general tso’s chicken onto my plate and finished it off with a generous helping of lo mein. We were ready to feast!
I took one bite of the lo mein and knew something was wrong. It looked fine—there were noodles, pork, and cabbage…the normal ingredients. But there was absolutely no flavor. No sauce, no seasoning, nothing. No taste.
My husband pushed the noodles off of his plate and back into the takeout container.
“This is gross. I think it just really needs some soy sauce, onions, and garlic. That’s it,” I said. It had everything else, but needed a little simple love.
Two days later, we did just that. I chopped some onions and garlic. My husband whipped out the wok and he went to work doctoring up the lo mein. He stirred everything in and added some soy sauce.
Within minutes, we had a delicious, transformed, rejuvenated lo mein. Just by adding three simple ingredients.
So, what does this lo mein have anything to do with our writing? Bear with me.
Sometimes, we tend to overthink our work. We may write a whole draft and feel like we have the gist of our message there, but something doesn’t feel right.
Some ways you’ll know if you have the main content of a piece of work are (and I’m mostly thinking of long-form content, but this could apply to some short-form content as well):
- If your main message is communicated
- If your piece serves an overall purpose
- If you have enough supporting details to back up your claims or main message
Sometimes, it’s as simple as making some minor tweaks to your work to make it more complete. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You may just need to:
- Add a story element to your work
- Enhance the voice or tone
- Improve headlines
- Improve the title
By adding these simple elements to your work, it could be exactly what you need to create your final, completed product.
Think about what you have as the foundation of your work. Do you have the basics of what you need? Is the meat of your message there?
When something’s missing, think about what simple components could spice things up. It could be easier than you think.
And if you’re overthinking what should be included in your portfolio, I have you covered! Check out my free guide that will help you build or boost a portfolio you can be proud of: