Monday, April 30, 2018

The Beginners Guide to Writing

How to Get Started Writing

At some point in time, everybody writes, even if its an assignment for school or a letter.  For many people it can seem like a thankless task, a chore or an exercise that's too time consuming.  Not many people stop to think about what it is they're writing about, and how to do it more effectively.  There are simple steps that can be done to make writing easier and more enjoyable, especially if you want to turn your hobby into a business.

Finding a good place to start is always a problem.  By following some simple first steps - planning out a manuscript, starting a draft or thinking of a good concept - these may feel like a real chore and not very enjoyable at times.  Here are some hassle free tips to get you started.


Take notes and start constructing the bare bones of the document your planning to write.  Carrying a notebook with you throughout the day, can really help you get your creative juices flowing.  Alternatively you could use the notepad on your PC, Laptop or device and anything that pops into your head, write it down.

What are you writing about? Is the piece long? What are the requirements for your writing? Making notes before you write is a perfectly good way to get started.  Especially if your thoughts aren't in order, it will also help you to stay focused.

Write About What You're Interested In

Unless you're doing an essay for school or college or a specific piece form for work make sure you're interested in what you're writing about.  Otherwise it will show if you're not that interested. You need to find something within your particular chosen subject that really gets you curious and interested and work on bringing that out.

Make an Outline

If you're writing a five page essay for school, this can seem like a never ending task.  You need structure and decide how long each point will be.  Having a general outline also works for creative writing.

The Draft

Writing a draft from scratch is the hardest part, not having a foundation to work from can make things really difficult.  That's why you need silence, no tablet or mobile phone to break your concentration when you're writing it out.

You need quiet time during the day or evening to sit down, without interruptions, just you and your thoughts and ideas.

Don't Aim for Perfection

Setting high standards can unfortunately result in writer's block.  Don't aim for perfection, write as much as you can.  You'll discover your flow and won't be able to stop until you've finished.

Remember you're going to come back to it later and edit and proofread what you've written.  Your draft is your groundwork, it'll always be a bit messy.

Take a Break

Before you revise your document, take a time out for a real break.  You'll discover more mistakes with fresh eyes when you need to start making those revisions.  You can stare at a screen for hours looking over the same things, and not see any mistakes.  Take your time, there's no rush.  You'll end up with a better quality document at the end.

How to Write Like a Writer Everyday, if You Feel Like It or Not 

It's true that in order to be a writer you need to write frequently, everyday if possible.  Most people have pretty full lives with other obligations including day jobs and family that can get in the way of doing it on a daily basis.

As a writer I've learnt it's not essential to write everyday, instead its necessary to think like a writer everyday and open your eyes to the world around you and drink it all in.

Below are a few tips with prompts to help you to write everyday. even when time isn't on your side:

Look Around You

These days our time is easily taken up with tablets and mobile phones instead of seeing the daily drama around us.  Try putting your devices to one side and open your eyes.  Take a look around you instead.

PROMPT: Use the time you spend people watching.  Take mental notes and start fleshing out a character for a story. 

These days we're accustomed to shutting out the world.  Unfortunately we miss out on all of the interesting parts of life and real stuff that's going on. Try honing a new skill and start listening to what's going on around you and use it to launch a new writing project.

It's so easy for self-doubt to start creeping into your life when you're writing.  Often all it takes is a little imagination and seeing the finish line ahead of you.  See it and make it happen.

Embrace the Chaos of Life

As a writer you feel like you can take on the world sometimes, in doing so you add more pressure where it's not needed.  Writing starts to feel more like a burden than a joy to do. Part and parcel of being a writer is accepting that we can't do everything.  Instead of running away from the chaos life throws at you try embracing it.  Through all of the turmoil you may find your best writing.

5 Ways to Keep Writing When Life Gets in the Way

Life can change almost daily, things happen, such as illness or family problems and distractions suddenly appear.  Leaving less time for you to think or write.

It's difficult when you're a freelance writer because you don't have the luxury of someone covering for you.  Keeping focused when you life is throwing bullets can be really tricky.

You need to find a workaround in order to cope with life's interruptions to get some real writing done.  Being prepared for all eventualities can be really tough.  Here are some tips to keep you writing when things get rough:

1. Focus on the Important Stuff

When writing is your business it becomes apparent which parts will yield the most money.  This includes writing blog posts, building a social media following, etc.

When times are hard it's easy to lose focus on the important things in your business and get wrapped up in the small stuff.  Marking off the smaller things makes us feel like we've achieved something. Unfortunately we're left with more pressure and less time to do the bigger things that are impending.

I work on my social media once during the day then leave the rest of the time writing articles and researching my next blog post.

When things are tough concentrate on the important part of your business, your writing, and reorganise the rest.

2. Be More Productive

When you're having trouble writing you need to start reading as much as you can to find your inspiration to write.  Go through some of your favourite bloggers and start taking notes.

On the other hand if you travel a lot during the day consider listening to a podcast or audio book.

Being productive isn't just about putting pen to paper and writing.  It's about letting things permeate.  It's also a great distraction when times are hard, to just listen to an audio book and escape into another world.

3. Just Manage

If you're having a bad year and going through one crisis after another.  Trying to double your earnings is probably not the best plan.

You need to take stock of your life and conserve your energy for your personal life.  Do work that's easier and at your fingertips.

You're better off staying within your limits in your personal life and keeping things steady in your working life.

4. Outsource

If you're working with deadlines from clients or editors hire a pair of extra hands to share the load.

Use your contacts and pass your work onto other trusted writer's you know that can help you.  Offer them an 80% fee or an amount close to it.  If you have a virtual assistant give them some extra hours to take the load off  you.

5. Don't Get Swamped

If you're overloaded with work it's easy to jump in recklessly. Try putting a limit on how much you can do with the time you have.  Set yourself achievable goals, such as 500 words in an hour.  Don't worry if you can't manage it, that's okay to.

Rules of Writing on the Internet

When I started writing on the internet in 2010 I knew I had the drive and passion to write articles of interest, being able to string a sentence together also helped.

I discovered along the way that you need structure and balance to write and there are certain rules you should abide by.

Here are some of those rules, please feel free to use them as you see fit:

1. First Impressions Count

Grab your reader in the first paragraph.  Make it interesting and a bit humorous.

If your first paragraph is long winded you could lose your reader, so keep them intrigued with your words and phrasing.

2. Write Clearly to be Understood

Are you writing to show off or are you writing to make a point?

Keep it simple use the words that come into your mind first.  You don't need to look up words in a dictionary use the words you already know.  Read more and you'll gain a better understanding of language which will in turn increase your vocabulary.

3. Keep to the Point

Write short clear sentences and paragraphs, let them flow in a logical order for your reader to understand.

4.  Keep Punctuation and Grammar in Control

Run your eyes over all full stops, commas, dashes and apostrophes.  Then move on to your next sentence.  Don't just rely on a spell checker for spelling mistakes, use your own eyes and make it consistent throughout.

5. Rules of Formatting

One Comma

You can often rework a sentence with multiple commas.  Keep it to the point and be concise.

Bold Highlighting

I use bold highlighting in all of my blog posts to identify key points it helps readers to understand the blog post I've written and makes it more coherent.

Sub Headers

These headers make your article easier to read and more digestible.

6. Avoid Unnecessary Words

If you're not sure about something leave it out.  Keep it short and to the point, don't waste words or get attached to your sentences.  If it makes no sense, kill it!

7. Scrutinise the Serious Stuff

If you're quoting someone or have allegations about someone, make sure your text isn't in breach of copyright or defamatory.

If you're satisfied it's your highest standard still read it over one more time just to make sure.

8. The Conclusion - Final Read

Be your own worst critic and scrutinise everything with a fine tooth comb.  Read it out loud to yourself.

Most of all embrace your imperfections and learn to have fun with your writing.