The idea of becoming a writer and being able to make a full time income from it is quite a romantic one. It has only become easier to entertain this possibility in light of contemporary, successful writers: J.K. Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Ariely, James Patterson, Paulo Coelho and dozens of others have accomplished this dream. Looking out into the world and seeing that other people are successful with it makes us want to do it as well.
I’ll be honest with you. As I write this post, my success with writing is not where I want it to be. I have accomplished a lot more than many self-proclaimed writers have (and have beaten some of my own goals), but I still have a long ways to go. With this post, it’s my intent to help out those who are just starting to write. This post series will naturally cover how to become a better writer, but consider this first one your “Writing 101” course.
1. Write As Often As You Possibly Can
It’s no secret – most of the best and highly prized writers of days past and present have been monolithically impressive producers of words. Edgar Allan Poe, Barbara Cartland, Stephen King, James Patterson, Charles Hamilton and Isaac Asimov are some of the top examples of writers who just never stopped writing.
Making a habit of writing and sticking with it, whether or not it seems great that day, is the key to mastering your writing muscle. Writing truly is just like any other skill – the more you practice it and spend time with it, the better you become. The more effectively you can convey your point, tell your story and connect with your reader.Writers write every day! Click To Tweet
2. Write When You’re Feeling Emotion
One of the biggest mistakes a newbie writer can make is skip writing when they’re feeling something strongly. If you’re really impassioned or inspired about something, or even angry or depressed, take the time to write about it. At the very least, jot down some notes that you can refer to later.
Emotional potency and raw thoughts are what make a written composition great. If it’s a story, there should be concise scenes of action that are laced with strong emotion. This is what makes a book sell well.
If it’s fact-based writing, the composition should be equally inspired, but keep things precise, easy to digest and readily applicable for the reader. People come to the Internet for concise, immediately useful information, and nothing else. Give the reader what they want, and they’ll keep coming back!Give the reader what they want! Click To Tweet
3. Write When You Aren’t Feeling Emotion
This is one of the most avoided, yet helpful tips in all of writing advice. In order to be successful as a writer, you must write even when you don’t feel like it. If you only write when you’re feeling energized, motivated and inspired, you will only write maybe 50 percent of the time. This may sound like a joke or overly dramatic, but it’s simply how life goes.
Look back over the past year. How many great months were peppered with less-than-enthralling events or happenings, such as illness, the loss of a friend or something else negative? There are always a few bumps in the road of life, but you can’t let this stop you from your dreams.
Keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. This is how you will fully create some of your best writing.
4. Write For Yourself
You have the freedom to write for yourself!You have the freedom to write for yourself! Click To Tweet
There’s no need to constantly feel like you’re “performing” or “delivering” for someone else. Relax a bit, and enjoy the process. After all, you wouldn’t be writing if you didn’t enjoy it for yourself! 🙂
5. Write As Much As You Can
Getting a lot of content composed is key when editing time comes. It’s better to have 100,000 words to work with than 50,000. This is not to say that short works are always bad, or longer works are always good. You simply want the largest collection of your original ideas to work with when you’re chopping everything down.
Usually, shorter does perform better. But often times you’ll pull a solid idea from the later sections of a larger work that wouldn’t have arisen had you called it a day early.
Write well in your first draft, but more importantly, write a lot. You can always chop it down later.
6. Practice Writing Sprints
A great way to get faster at writing is to develop and practice writing sprints. These are short bouts of “writing vomit” (pardon the expression) where you simply write about one topic without stopping at all. It may sound difficult at first, but once you finish a few of them, it’s easier and really beneficial.
Author Chris Fox has popularized this idea, if not invented it. He wrote the book 5,000 Words Per Hour and has made himself a small household name for this skill in writing.
7. Offer To Edit Others’ Writing
Providing your editing services to friends or peers gives you a chance to witness the other side of writing. Editing helps make you a better writer because you get a chance to see how other writers’ brains work. Naturally, you also get the chance to critique and improve their writing. Edit with the intent to make someone’s writing better and fuller, not just to criticize and make them feel bad.
8. Read A Ton Of Books
Opening your mind up to all kinds of books automatically helps make you a better writer. Every great writer I’ve known, professionally and personally, has been a huge reader as well. The two activities ultimately go hand-in-hand. It’s pretty much impossible to find a writer who doesn’t love to read, or a voracious reader who doesn’t enjoy writing every once in a while.
Read fiction, non-fiction, investment books, comic books, art collections, history books, science books, graphic novels and anything else you can get your hands on. There’s a world of ideas and benefit to derive from any kind of writing.
9. Become A Versatile Writer
A big part of becoming a better writer is deciding to become a versatile writer. Now, there are a few urban myths and misconceptions surrounding this concept, so I’ll tackle them briefly here.
Some people (particularly people on freelancing sites) seem to think that writers who write just about everything are poorly skilled writers, because they can write anything but aren’t masters of their trade. This is simply not true.
To clarify, it’s understandable why an individual seeking business work on a site like Upwork would only want people who write fact-based materials, because this is all they need. But there’s no such thing as a less talented writer just because they write all different kinds of pieces.
Variety and versatility are two of your strongest allies when it comes to writing. Being able to write poetry, non-fiction, short stories and brief reports is a sign of strength, creativity and fluidity in your craft. Naturally, you should be able to do all of these decently well if you want to gain attention for them. But if you’re just strengthening your writing muscles and becoming a better writer, there’s no reason not to appropriately push yourself out of your comfort zone.
10. Write Because It’s Fun
Lastly, but never least, write because it’s fun! You have to love writing on a deep level if you’re going to get up every single day and do it again. Writing can be one of the most enthralling, enriching and restorative experiences available.
It’s simply soul-touching. It’s how one mind communicates thoughts and experiences to another. Writing captures ideas. Writing contains words that form a structure and can be revisited time and again.
I hope you liked the first post in the “How To Become A Better Writer” series! Be on the lookout for new posts soon.
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The How To Become A Better Writer Series: