Writing Journal 63: How to Be a Better Writer

Writing Journal 63: How to be a Better Writer

My writing journal for Tuesday, October 14, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another busy day today ahead. Lots to do, including a couple of meetings this afternoon. AND I need to work on my new website. To add to the mayhem, I received a “help!” message from a regular client. He needs some copywriting done in a hurry.

As always, I start the day writing fiction. I managed to complete a couple of scenes on the mystery novel, for 2,800 words. Lots of “junk” in there — working things out on the page.

Let’s talk about thinking on the page for a moment.

Think on the page: it helps you to become a better writer

I’m always telling my writing students: “you’re a BETTER writer than you think you are; and — you’re over-thinking this.” Then I advise them to think on the page, because not only will they get started writing and keep going, they’ll also get fresh inspiration.

Big tip: inspiration happens while you’re writing.

So, in ALL my writing, whether I’m writing an advertising spiel, a blog post, or a novel, I think on the page. This means that I end up with lots of what I call “junk”. It’s the equivalent of paper notes which you ball up and toss over your shoulder when you’re done.

I include the junk in the first draft — before anyone else sees the material — because I’ve found that thoughts lead to inspirations. Many times I’ve been stymied on a project, and the answer turns out to be in the thinking on the page I did earlier in the draft.

Try thinking on the page as you write. It works.

I’ve scheduled a writing session on the nonfiction books for tonight — that’s left a little room in my schedule.

On to email. I fix Honey’s breakfast, then my own, while getting through our email as quickly as possible.

Next, my walk. We had some storms yesterday, and more are promised for later today. It poured down last night; lots of lightning and thunder. After all the rain, it’s a fine morning, a little chilly. Walking through the park, I noticed that the rain sank right into the ground. It’s been a dry month.

Work on my new website/ blog

Back again, to work on my new website and blog. I doubt that I’ll be able to launch it this week. I’ve lots left to do, and write. Not to worry. It’s done when it’s done.

Then it’s time for my meetings. I’ll have lunch while I’m out.

Back again. It’s later than I hoped it would be, but that can’t be helped. Meetings always seem to run longer than you expect.

I need to get on with my rush copywriting job.

A rush sales page and email messages for my client who’s in crisis

Luckily, it’s straightforward. The client wants a sale page, as well as a couple of emails to send out to his list.

By the time I’ve completed a draft of all the material for his review, it’s very late. I send it off with a sigh of relief.

Before I forget, I need to add my meetings’ notes to Evernote, and schedule some tasks which eventuated. Both meetings were about holiday sales. Everyone will be busy from now, until after the sales wind down in the middle of January.

Great. :-) I loved being busy.

So, time for my daily review. I’ll be working on the nonfiction books tonight.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

5 Ways to Become a Better Writer

5 Ways to Become a Better Writer

Everyone wants to become a better writer today. No, not “a writer”. A better writer, because no matter who you are, these days, your life involves writing. You may not like it. You may struggle against it, but today business is 24-hour, non-stop, and global. You need to communicate often, and do it well. Preferably, without slamming your head against your desk, and wishing you were dead.

Let’s look at five ways you can become a better writer.

1. Keep it Short

Keep writing short

 

Steve Jobs was a genius. He knew good writing, and how to write. He kept it short.

You don’t need to confine yourself to one-word answers in your email messages, as Steve did in in the message here, but it couldn’t hurt.

Here are two words which will improve your writing TODAY: say it. Just say what you have to say. Don’t circle around the topic. Don’t waffle. Don’t try to “write.” Say what you mean to say, straight out, no messing.

 

2. Do It More

write more

I love “10 steps to becoming a better writer,” by Brian Clark.

Writing takes practice. That’s why professional writers write every day: they know that writing is a muscle. They know that when they take time off from writing, they lose their facility with words. The more you do anything, the better you get at it.

To repeat: the more you do anything, the better you get at it. Your writing is always the best you can do, at the time. Your writing will be better tomorrow, and even better next year. Write.

 

3. Get Interested: Passion Shows in Your Words

You can feel energy, or the lack of it, in words. So, to write well, you need to become interested in your topic. “Interest” is active, rather than passive. I’ve written well about concrete rebar, mulching, and pathology tests. (By “well” I mean that the words did what they were supposed to do – they sold products.)

Whenever you’re tempted to say: “this is boring”: learn more. The more you know about something, the more interesting it becomes… and you’ll become a better writer.

You can write about anything with passion. Find out more about your topic, and you’ll become passionate about it.

4. Be True to Your Values and Beliefs

You need to be able to think: “so what?” when someone criticizes what you write. Not in any passive-aggressive, or defensive fashion, but because you know you can do it again, and do it better, if you need to.

You may not need to, because part of your acceptance of criticism is knowing your values and beliefs, and being true to them. You calmly consider the source of the criticism, and take that into account.

If you’re an author, take note of reviews, but never, ever respond. Remember: “so what?” If you’re not capable of insouciance: don’t read reviews. Lose the attitude that you’re always right. You may not be, but it doesn’t make you a lesser writer, or indeed a lesser person.

5. Read, read, read. Write, write, write.

Good writers are readers. They read books. You become a better writer by reading good writing, and bad writing too.

Stephen King:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

So there you have it. Five ways to become a better writer. As Woody Allen famously said:

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Show up. Write.

And if you’re ready to SHINE, start today. Get coaching. Or, join our final Team Up session for the year; it ends soon.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.