“Do you have any piece of advice for aspiring writers?”
This is a common question among people intending to become writers. It has hit my inbox more often, for a long time.
At first, I felt I had no answer to the question. But over the last few years, I came to realize that yes, I do have a piece of advice to give, and I wish had known more about these advice years ago. Though every writer`s goals and processes are different, some things apply to most of us.
A writer attempts to move ideas from his mind to the minds of his readers using words as a medium.
Proficient writing does not only transport ideas to the readers` minds but also gives visceral experience, as if the writer is penetrating inside their skulls, grabbing a handful of neurons, caressing them and maybe crushing them!
Nobody said that writing is going to be easy. If the stuff was that easy, then everybody would be a writer. Here are is a list of some of the things you should know if you intend to become a writer.
1. Every aspiring writer should learn the art of writing
You don’t need to be a journalist or hold a master’s degree in English and literature for you to be a proficient writer. You just need to be literate and interested.
Everything else revolving around writing is just training and exercising your writing muscles over and over again. Sit down to write, work hard and practice the art of writing tirelessly!
If you believe that you don’t have time, ten minutes a day is enough to get you started. Write on your last dinner experience, your commute to work and back home or even that Friday you and your friends were out partying. Write daily on anything.
Two of the best ways to make a system smarter is detecting an error and correcting it. Every writer sprouts and grows just like the mustard plant. We grow by correcting mistakes that we commit in our daily writing. Just ensure you don’t repeat the mistakes you correct each day.
2. Essential Skills
Good writing skills enable you to pass your message with clarity and ease to a larger audience than in face to face conversations. Here are some of the basic writing skills every aspiring writer should have.
a) Keep it simple
As an aspiring writer, you should have the ability to describe things simply and clearly. This means either making an explicit argument or painting a solid picture in your readers` minds. It also entails using simple and interesting words and to-the-point syntax.
For example, read this sentence…
“Worrying about her sick daughter and puzzling over the situation in Pakistan, she hurried- all the while checking time- towards the bus.”
The easiest type of sentence to understand is the “subject-verb”. The more the words you put in between or before those two parts of speech in any sentence, the harder it is for your readers to understand. Your readers want to know who is doing what and to whom.
In the example above, “who” is “she” and the “what” is “hurried towards the bus.”
I am not saying every sentence in your writing should take that form. What am all advocating for is an aspiring writer should understand how to write in simple sentences and its importance.
Challenging words and complex phrasing are all useful tools in writing. But you need to walk before you can run.
First learn how and when to use such complex phrasing and how to write without them. In fact, there is nothing wrong with the complex sentence in the example above but it is better to write using simple sentences for clarity.
b) Pay attention to active and passive voice
Using active voice makes your sentences punchy, direct and makes it clear who is doing what. I recommend the use of active voice for clarity in your communication. Writing in the passive voice means that you are constructing sentences with a “passive subject” (acted upon) rather than agents of action. This makes your sentences confusing or dull.
Sentences in the active voice have directness and energy, and this will keep the reader scrolling down your piece of writing. Active voice also makes your sentences less wordy hence making it easier for readers to understand your writing. Only use passive voice in fewer instances and when necessary.
c) Unique content
We are living in the cut, copy and paste era. Such an era is extinct for great and serious writers. If you are willing to join the amazing world of writers, forget copying content from other sites and pasting on your documents.
Practice researching and writing the findings in your words. That is the only way to grow as a writer. Consider giving your insights if you are writing in a niche you have some expertise. Remember to make valid arguments and not lies in your writing unless its fiction.
d) Write killer content
Captivating content is the only tool you can use to keep readers on your piece of writing. For you to create a compelling piece of content, you need to understand the following;
Phases of content creation
There are several phases of content creation, including idea generation, outline, research, draft, and proofreading. Each of these stages has its own section in your writing. To be on the safer side:
- Think of what you want to write about
- Come up with the outline or the skeleton of your piece of writing
- Do an extensive research on the topic you need to write on
- Draft your content
- Proofread it
Breaking your writing task this way makes it easier and time-saving. You cannot research before you identify the topic you want to write about.
Researching before writing saves you the time of switching to opening and closing tabs when researching and still typing. Also, it ensures that your ideas flow systematically.
Don’t forget the catchy title, using subtitles, simple sentences, and short paragraphs when writing. Also, experts recommend the use of bullet points and listings in your writing. All these increase the ease of reading your content.
Understand your audience
Address your audience directly. Use conversational English to penetrate their minds and hearts to encrypt your message in them. Moreover, conversational a tone builds an immediate rapport with your audience, seems more credible to most readers, and it is easier to understand.
Avoid industry jargon and use familiar terminology. Using words or phrases that your readers may not understand is a huge turn off for them.
Provide relevant information to your audience. Remember, your readers are seeking answers. If your piece of writing does not address their questions, they will flag it down and click on other sites. Be as relevant as possible
Be a copycat
Hey! Copy the hell out of your favorite and successful writers. Find out what makes their content interesting. Don’t paste what they have written. Instead, use the language they way they do to generate interesting content.
3. Write continuously and be patient
As an aspiring writer, you should comprehend the value of being patient. You cannot become a proficient writer overnight.
Write every day, read everything you write aloud and make it multiple drafts. Let this be your daily exercise and be patient. Each day, ensure you correct a new mistake and learn something new about writing.
Practice is the only way to improve. Otherwise, you will face the writers’ block for a very long time. My Quora friend Laureen writes continuously. She is an amazing writer by her own perspective, but most importantly she enjoys the art of writing. She can even write in the ice cream shop!
4. Grammar and punctuation counts
Grammar mistakes and poor punctuation are some of the huge turn offs to readers. If you are an aspiring writer, try as much as possible to write your content in flawless English.
Don’t just depend on any software to correct grammar mistakes for you. Read widely to understand the correct grammar and use of punctuation marks.
Definitely, you want to write. You need to move from being an aspiring writer to a real writer. Start now even though you suck at it. Don’t wait until you become better because you will never become a better writer unless you start. And the best way to start is by signing up for a quality writing course. You will learn faster that way.