Unlike what many people think, a writer doesn’t conjure a write up from the top of his head like a magician conjures a rabbit from a hat. Some wise man said genius is 99 percent perspiration and one percent luck. This is especially true for writing. Apart from a penchant for words, creative writing, like any other art requires nurturing and hard work. Even a diamond needs to be polished to sparkle. Here are 10 writing tips for people who feel that they have an idea, a story or an argument worth expressing.
- Don’t write a lot. Write often.
You need to work through your resistance and cultivate the discipline for writing. If you want to get better at writing, you have to shun excuses and get down to write every day. Writing regularly even if for only half an hour will ease your way into writing over spending 6 hours over the weekend. Just show up every day no matter what, no questions asked, no exceptions made.
- Develop your style
While it’s largely impossible to not get influenced by your favorite writers style, do be wary of emulating them blindly. Ernest Hemingway was known for his straightforward, unadorned writing style while James Joyce is known for sentences that just don’t end. Allow your voice and style to emerge.
- Create your own writing space
You can write on a bus ride, metro or cafes whenever you feel an urge to write. However, having a fixed place and time to write can work as a stimulus to write. E.g. as I open my laptop and settle down on my office desk every morning, I feel mentally prepared to write.
- Carry a small pocket notebook or install writing apps on your smartphone
Ideas catch us unawares at unlikely moments. Make sure when they strike, have a notebook or better have writing apps like ProWritingAd, Scribus, Evernote, etc. installed on your phone to jot them down on your phone. More often than not, you are likely to forget them after the moment passes. Even if you remember them the intensity and rawness of the expression get diluted when written in retrospect.
- Remember there are four more senses other than sight
Simply describing what one sees makes the narrative jarring. Move beyond stereotypical descriptions like ‘blue skies’, ‘green trees’ and ‘white sheets’. Invoke other senses like touch, sound, taste, smell to add freshness your writing.
- Read a lot
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the tools to write. Its as simple as that”- Stephen King. Reading develops your palate for words, and allows you to distinguish between good and bad writing. It exposes us to styles and voices different and better than ours and helps us improve. You can read articles and books on ‘tips to write well’ but only through reading can you discover how those tips are being put to practice.
- Write with an intent
Knowing what you want to write about makes the process faster. Having a clear intent lends clarity and confidence to your writing. It saves you from digressing and makes your writing taut and effective.
- Editing is real writing
Allow your thoughts to pour unhindered in the first draft without caring about the accuracy and flow. Once you allow your thoughts to flow, set aside your piece to gain objectivity. Return to the text – rewrite, delete, shorten, re-arrange to make your writing elegant and let it flow seamlessly.
- Stop worrying about being a good writer, write for the joy of it
Ask yourself: Why do you want to write? If the answer is to get published or to become famous, then you may be putting yourself under tremendous pressure. Take up writing primarily for the joy of writing. It is worth more than any other reward. Write to work through your feelings, to make sense of the world and to relish the creative process. All writers write with an intent to be read, but chasing a lofty ambition might prevent you from being yourself.
- Make humble beginnings
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single first step. While it’s alright to aim to write a book, it might be too lofty an ambition for a new writer. Start by writing small paragraphs, articles or short pieces to find your feet before aiming for the book.