I have been writing on this blog for almost two years now, and as I have mentioned in a previous article, writing is not easy. From writing just a couple of articles a month in the beginning of 2010 to writing around 15 articles every month now, it has taken a lot of patience and hard work. There have been frustrations at not being able to finish a simple article over many days, and the pain of not liking what you have just finished writing. It still happens, and not all the articles or poems I come up are ready to post that instant. Sometimes I edit an article multiple times, and over several weeks before posting it.
Today I am going to share some of my learnings from these last 20 months of writing, and what steps you can take if you aspire to write regularly, and become better at that. Even if you are not not writing now, these tips will help you get started and going. Since there are a lot of lessons I have learnt and I keep getting new insights everyday as I write more and more, I am going to write it down in multiple articles, but starting with 10 points which I feel the most important in this article. So here we go…
1. Just Do It
You will become a better writer by writing more, not by planning to write more. So, irrespective of the fact that whether you are tired or busy, whether it is sunny or cloudy outside, just put your butt down, and write. Let me say it again for more impact. Don’t Dream about writing, just WRITE.
2. Feel It. Express it
Write about something you feel and care about. Choose a topic or subject that gets your heart beating, whether it is music, sports, yoga, business or fiction. Writing is not about the language, it is about the subjects that bring out different emotions in you. And once you start writing on something close to your heart, you will be amazed to see how words flow out.
3. Keep a Notebook
Ideas don’t work on an on-call basis. You can’t call out for new ideas, topics or phrases when you want them. They can sprout up in your mind anytime, sometimes even in the middle of the night. So always keep notes, either offline or online, and note your thoughts and ideas, about a new topic or some interesting sentence or quote you might have just thought. When you actually sit down to write, refer to these notes to structure your article. An idea lost is an idea lost, and you can’t recall it again at will, so better note it down the first time.
4. Keep Patience
You will not like everything you like. Sometimes even after sitting for an hour, you won’t be able to write much. But don’t loose patience. This is expected, and a part of the game. If you want to write good stuff, you have to empty your mind of all the rubbish. And when you write something which you don’t like, it is only this rubbish coming out. Now you must not loose hope and persevere because only after all the rubbish is gone, the good stuff will start coming out.
5. Take Feedback
Most often we are blinded to flaws in our writings, whether grammatical or structural, and it is always helpful to take feedback from a few people before publishing. What is more important is to take critical feedback and not just reject it, but work on it to make your article better. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those to whom I go for review whenever I finish writing something new.
6. No Fear
Let go of any fear you might have. Fear only results in you ‘not‘ writing. So be without fear, which I know, is impossible. But recognize your fears, and get over them rather than letting them overwhelm you. Let these fears drive your writing. Write badly if you must, but do write. Because if you write, you won and the fear lost.
7. Keep Editing for Later
When you start writing, very often you will feel that what you just wrote can be improved. But don’t be tempted and work on finishing the first draft of your article first, and keep all editing for later. Nobody is asking you to be perfect, so have the courage to write badly, but don’t stop writing unless you finish the first draft.
8. Review and Edit Multiple Times
One practice which has worked very well for me is to review my own writings multiple times, often separated by time intervals of atleast a day. After I finish writing the first draft of any article, I don’t review it immediately, but instead review it once for the next few days, and then post it. This helps me view the same article with a fresh mind every day and hence the changes (if any) I do make it better, instead of if I were to edit it just after I finished writing it.
9. Maintain Discipline
One of the most important practice you can bring to the table is being disciplined at writing. I write around 4 days a week now, and want to increase it to 6 days soon. But it is very important to keep writing regularly, even if you are writing only rubbish. Even if you are not in the mood. Even if you are tired, or exhausted, or whatever. Don’t let your reasons for not writing become greater than your discipline.
10. Read a lot
One sure shot way to improve your writing, and get new ideas to write about, is to read a lot. Read books, newspapers, and articles online. Most often I get the idea of a new blog topic after reading an article online or while reading a book. At this point, I just make a note of the topic and any bullet points which I might have, and come back to it later to write the full article. Due to reading, and keeping notes (see point 3 above) I always have a list of articles to write with some notes already in place.