A Word to Writers

There are a few things about writing that I have learned since my earlier days of writing for my high school newspaper. Most have been learned the hard way, through hurting people's feelings or just reading my own writing years later and cringing. So, whether you enjoy writing books or blog posts, here are a few hints from what I've discovered.

Set a deadline.
The only way to get an article or book going is to just make yourself write. I don't work well without a deadline. For some reason, the ideas don't seem to flow until they need to. Deadlines help to get your butt into gear, but the length will differ with each person. My current goal is one article per week. Even though it may not be your job to write, treating it like one will help the words to actually get on paper.

Write with dignity.
This one is extremely important. I'm sad to say that I have written articles that have hurt people's feelings, if only because I never thought those people would read them. Always consider that each article is likely to be read by the person you are alluding to. Never say something about someone in an article that you wouldn't say in front of their face. This is something I like to call "writing with dignity." Articles and books aren't worth hurting people's feelings over. While you may often be saying some things that make people uncomfortable or upset, don't let it be because you said something publicly about them that you'd shouldn't have.

Don't preach at people. 
Use the word "we" a whole lot more than "you" in your writing. People need to know that you can relate to them, rather than just point out their many defects while being blinded to your own. Or maybe I should say, "our own."

Expand your vocabulary.
I'm afraid we have gotten into a bad habit over here in the good ol' US of A. Rather than using a variety of words, we've let adverbs, or intensifiers, take over our language. In particular, the words "very" and "really" have gotten far too much lime light in our speaking and writing. For example, we say, "I really hated the movie." How about using a word that can better describe how you felt, such as, "I despised the movie." Look at some of your past writing and see how many times those intensifiers have stolen the show of what could have been a really good, rather, brilliant thought picture.

Write like you talk.
The only way I can put thoughts down at all is because I imagine I am actually talking to a friend. While I do think we should expand our vocabulary, there is still a balance of not sounding like you are a robot reading an piece of Shakespeare. When you have "voice" in your writing it will warm your readers to you, and entice them to think they just might be able to get into what you are saying.

Be informed.
There is a lot to be said for knowing what you are talking about. If you are just a box of opinions, rather than facts, it might be best to sit this one out. There have been many articles I have written and spent hours agonizing over, only to throw them away because I didn't know what I was talking about. You've got to know when you don't have anything real to say, and be willing to press "delete" rather than say the wrong thing.

Wait for a good idea.
And, most importantly, despite everything I've said previously, only write if you have something worth saying. Although I have my goal set to write an article a week, I absolutely refuse to write if I have nothing to say. I've done that before, and I can always tell that my readers know I'm just writing for a quota. Don't waste your readers time. Unless your interested in what you are writing, just don't. But, there is preparation with this one. I am usually thinking all week of things that I could write about, and am developing those ideas. That way, by the time I'm ready to write, the words generally just flow, and the writing process actually happens quickly. Maybe you're surprised, but there's homework involved with writing, even a simple little blog! Let the ideas stew and simmer inside for a while. They will let you know when they are ready to come out.


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