I don’t claim to be the greatest writer in the world.
But I’m definitely better than I used to be. And ultimately, that’s all that really matters.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years…
1. Don’t plan; just write.
2. Write something every single day.
3. Share your writing with others. Blog it. Do it anonymously if you have to. Let the world be your editor.
4. Study writing basics in books like On Writing by Stephen King.
5. Writers are readers. How many books did you read in February?
6. Vary sentence length.
7. Don’t be afraid to use ALL CAPS, bold, underline and the like. It catches people’s attention, breaks up the page and evokes emotion. Read a Tom Peters book, you’ll see what I mean.
8. Typing is a little easier than writing by hand because the speed of thought is nearly matched by the speed of typing. Plus writing by hand is a big pain in the, um…hand.
9. Whatever you’re writing, go back and make it shorter. People just don’t have time anymore. They won’t read it.
10. It takes time to discover your voice. But when you do, it’s the greatest accomplishment any writer could achieve.
11. Lists are your friends. They’re easy to write. They’re even easier to read. And they organize information that has no apparent pattern. Kinda like this blog post!
12. Write everything down. Everything.
13. Make sticky notes for your office with the following statements written on them:
a. Writing is the basis of all wealth.
b. Is everything you know written down somewhere?
c. What did you write today?
14. If you make lists, don’t be afraid to occasionally throw in a point that has absolutely no relevance whatsoever. It’s fun.
15. Become a better writer by studying creativity. How many creativity exercises did you do this week?
16. Get over all that, ‘But I’m not a writer’ stuff. Thoughts like that block positive thought and hinder creativity. Everyone is a writer. Everyone.
17. Every morning when you wake up, dump everything that’s on your mind into about three pages. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s about freeing your mind of all the crap so you can clear the way for the good stuff. Think of it like going to the driving range before a round of 18 holes to get all those shanks out of your system. If you want to write better quality stuff, the REAL stuff that’s deep inside of you just dying to get out, you’ve got to pave the way. Thank you, Artist’s Way.
18. Break the rules of writing. Every day. Nothing too horrendous. But don’t be afraid to start sentences with words like ‘and’ and ‘because.’ Don’t be afraid to throw in a fragment here and there. Nobody’s going to be mad. If it proves your point and looks and sounds good, leave it in there. Be a rebel on paper.
19. Read your stuff out loud. Make sure it flows.
20. You can read books, take classes and study the greats. But the BEST way to become a better writer is to write. Every. Single. Day.
21. Hey, remember #9? That thing I said about keeping it short? I was serious. Odd are, half the people who started reading this very article are no longer with us. (Dang it!)
22. Read The War of Art. Best book on art/creativity/writing ever. EVER.
23. When you write something really brilliant, or at least pretty good, take a break. Or stop. Don’t be a greedy writer.