Writing is both an art and a science. While the art of writing attracts your reader's attention, the science of it can help you turn it into a business.
Here's how to get started:
1. Read A Lot
Reading is probably the single most important activity that leads to better writing.
What to read? Many good writers have read several books from all sorts of genres, and I'm guessing that most started to do so at a young age. While it is probably difficult trying to do the same, say starting at age thirty and up, never let anyone tell you that it's too late to read and write.
Start reading what you're comfortable with and interested in. It could be chick flicks. It could be men's fitness magazines. However, if you wish to write professionally, consider which books you would be proud to tell clients you've read.
2. Take Notes when Good Ideas Come
When you have a great idea, write it down and not just in your head.
No great ideas? Start by listing a problem e.g. Most People are not Realising their Full Earning Potential by Working Full-time for Others, followed by possible solutions, such as 8 Ways to Make Extra Money on the Side.
Keep a log or journal of your writer's notes rather than trying to churn up an article right after getting an idea because it may turn out not to be so great. So, let the ideas settle before writing.
In the words of Robert Bruce, VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media and Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter, sitting at your desk, “grinding it out” is so last century.
Get some sleep already. Genius might hit at 3am in the morning.
3. Research on that Great Idea
This is the most important step of all. If you're writing for work or employment, you'll be forced to research and then write.
Writer's block is probably the single biggest outcome of a lack of research.
If you have more than one idea, it's a good idea to have a log or table with the following:
- Draft title
- Notes or Ideas
- Research / Gathering information
Research is the meat of writing. It's also wise to keep track of sources or references that went into your writing, especially if writing professionally so that if you are ever questioned, you may defend yourself.
**Warning: Research is hard work. However, it is well worth the effort because it adds credibility to the writer.
4. Find your "Writing Voice"
Imagine having a chat with a good friend. Do you use bombastic words or flowery language?
A lot of times, trying to write in a "standard" of English hinders our voice. Do you envision writing as very formal sounding? Try using words from your everyday language. What you will get is Voice.
Voice is very important in writing successfully. Nobody wants to read a list of regurgitated facts without any flavour in them.
Write like you talk. Read your writing out loud. Does this sound like me? Sounding 'correct' can come later.
- Let the words churn out onto your document
- Sort of write as if you were drunk
- Place the dictionary out of reach
- No censoring (yet)
5. Tell a Story about What You Know
Sally glanced at her nails for the umpteenth time. She was dying to get them done but technically, if she died, there'd be no need to do nails. Sally sighed. Why hadn't Ben called yet? He promised the day before that...
How do you weave a story that captivates your audience? Back to Sally above, what was the most important point of the story? Was it her nails, the phone call from Ben (whoever Ben is anyway), or their relationship?
The truth is, it really doesn't matter. Telling a story doesn't have to be all that dramatic. You just have to make it interesting for the reader. The trick is to write about a topic as if it's the closest thing to your heart, not just something that sounds smart and popular.
6. Edit Before You Hit that 'Publish' Button
Last but not least, the editing process.There are expensive books out there in the market, solely about copy editing. It's a professional business. Just to show you what I mean:
What copy editing entails is checking for the following:
- Punctuation errors
Basically, it is making your writing say what it means and mean what it says.
Copy editing is important to ensure that your writing flows smoothly, adheres to the conventions of grammar, wording is proper, there are no typos and punctuation is appropriately and correctly placed - in other words, that it looks professional.
*Note: copy editing and proofreading do not mean the same thing. A proof reader does not re-write.
What you will need for copy editing:
- A dictionary
- Grammar and usage books
- Internet access (for online searching)
- A sharp eye
'The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment' by Susan Thurman is an approachable and informative book that lists commonly mispelt words and suggests substitutes for wordy phrases such as 'along the lines of', 'despite the fact that' and 'in the very near future'.or
matting, style, spelling, consistency, grammar, or punctuation errors.
Amazon Price: $9.95 $5.69 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 13, 2014)
Whoever said writing was easy? It is hard work, and research is sweaty business. However, good research adds credibility to a writer. Don't hit that 'Publish' button until you feel like bookmarking your own article for reference or buying your own product links. Remember, the secret to publishing that sells is valuing the most precious commodity of all: the reader's time.
Last but not least, a bad writer's start is better than not doing anything at all. Here's to your writer's success! Because you can write, you know.