“How do I get better at writing?” is a question asked often in the comment sections of those blogs about promoting your page. This isn’t one of those blogs of course, but the subject of website growth interests me and so I occasionally write about it. As with anything, becoming a better writer takes practice and dedication (duh, tell us something we don’t know, Brian). Writing isn’t enough in itself, though. I’m no professional author, but I’ve been told over the years that I have some innate talent for it so I thought I’d share a simple list of the things I have done throughout my life that I think make me a decent writer. We all love lists, right?
Reading is at least of equal importance to writing! The simple act of reading someone else’s words will give you ideas for formatting and structure, and will also improve your vocabulary. You don’t need to sit down with a notebook and pen and analyze every book you own, just read.
Sit with your finished writing
Something I struggle with as much as anyone is publishing my posts immediately upon finishing them. My better posts and essays are the ones I let sit for several days, editing them a couple of times before considering them “done”. You may not think of the best way to say something the first or second time you read through it. Sometimes you need to let your brain rest for a day and look at it with fresh eyes. I was skeptical of this until I started writing in college. You really do find dozens of things to edit 24 hours later.
Write every day
I don’t believe in writer’s block! Maybe on a particular day, working on your latest project sounds like less fun than jabbing butter knives under your fingernails. You should still write something. If your book or blog posts aren’t inspiring you that day, write about something new. Write a simple letter to yourself, write a journal entry about your day. It doesn’t really matter what you write as long as you sit down and do it. I believe that motivation comes from doing work, not the other way around.
Stay true to your style
When you read the really popular blogs out there, you may be tempted to emulate the way those authors write. This always comes across as fake. I don’t know how people can tell, but they can. Your writing should be like a conversation between you and your reader in a sense. Don’t reach for the thesaurus in order to wow people with an 8-syllable word for pizza, just write the way you speak. I sometimes come across like a pompous dick in my writing. That’s because when I talk to people, I sound like a pompous dick!
Optimize your work space
A cluttered desk creates a cluttered mind. I’ve spent a lot of time making my office an inspiring place that I want to be in. It’s filled with plants, natural light, and photographs that inspire me (none of those corny motivational posters, please). I make sure to clean up after every session so that the next time I sit down it’s tidy and ready for work. There are virtually no distractions which actually makes writing a relaxing experience for me.
As with all things, a healthy body equals a healthy mind! If you neglect your well-being, your creative pursuits will suffer. We all have the image of the tortured artist secluded in a dark studio cranking out masterpiece after masterpiece, but this was rarely a reality. Artists mingle with other people, eat plenty of healthy fats and protein, and get out in the sunlight for a little while every day. I challenge you to find one successful artist who sits in a dark bedroom and eats potato chips all day! I used to think that I was unique in that I split my time between intellectual activities and physical activities like exercising and running. It turns out that’s what all successful people do.
Writing shouldn’t be a chore, it should bring you joy, but it does take some discipline to flourish. It’s a skill just like anything else so the more you do it, the more quickly you will improve!