10 More Writing Tips
Writing can be a hobby, a creative outlet, a side income, an outlet for stress, a therapeutic tool, a full-time income, or for some writers an all-consuming obsession. There are a thousand reasons and ways to write and none of them are wrong. For the most part, it’s a matter of personal preference. One thing that most writers will agree on, though, is that writing is a skill that is never quite mastered. There is always something else you can learn as a writer if you are open to continually trying new things.
We’ve given you some writing guidelines and tricks in other articles, but it’s truly a never-ending list, so here are 10 more categories of writing tips you can use to improve your writing:
1. Challenge Yourself
- NaNoWriMo: Join people across the country who challenge themselves to write an entire novel during the month of November.
- Contests: There are thousands of writing contests out there. Some are just for fun and others that include cash and prizes for the winners.
- Word Count: Challenge yourself to write a specific number of words in an hour, in a day, week, etc.
- Page or Chapter Goals: Push yourself to write a set number of pages or chapters per day, week, or month.
2. Write with Intent
It the end it doesn’t matter why you write. What will help you to write with clarity is to write with intent. Before you get started, know your purpose. Are you writing:
- Just for fun or practice
- For Warm-up
- To Educate
- To Inspire
- For Comic Relief
- To Inform
- To Persuade
- To Record or Share Memories
The list of reasons to write is as unending as the list of writing tips. If you clarify your reasons for writing before you get started, it keeps you motivated and helps you quickly make decisions about things like word choice, pacing, and even character development.
3. Know Your Reader
Another recommended writing tips is to make sure you know your reader or audience. If you take time to understand who will be reading your short story, blog post, novel, or even website, you will be able to make decisions as you write. Knowing your reader before you get started can help you to do the following:
- Write on Their Level
- Give value
- Answer Questions
4. Uncage Your Creativity
You may have heard the phrase “every story has already been told” or “there is no such thing as an original story.” This is true in a way. When you strip a story of all the details about character and setting, every story falls into one of about seven plots. Plots recycled by writers for hundreds of years.
One of the most important writing tips is to uncage your creativity because that is how you, as a writer, can take one of those seven plots and turn it into an original story. It is your ability to tap into your creativity, to mix character traits, setting, and plot twists in new and different ways make your story like no other story written. Here are some ways to tap into your creativity:
Word Games such as Scrabble, crossword puzzles, and logic puzzles, can help you boost your vocabulary but also help you to unleash your creativity so you can tell more engaging stories, think of new ideas, twists, make interesting connections, etc. in your writing.
Freewriting: Set a timer for ten minutes and write by hand (not keyboard). Freewriting can help bust writer’s block, can help you find new solutions to a problem, connect to your subconscious, and much more. The important writing tip about freewriting is to keep your pen moving the entire time even if what you’re writing is repetitive or seems ridiculous, keep your pen moving. No editing allowed in freewriting.
Writing Prompts are a super way to avoid blank page syndrome, kick-start your imagination, unleash your creativity, and get the attention of your muse. Writing prompts are especially effective when used in combination with freewriting techniques. Set a timer, pick a prompt, and write till the timer goes off!
Journaling: is a great way to practice writing and unleash your creativity, especially when you use creative writing prompts.
Collaborative Doodles: doodling connects to a different area of your brain and helps to unleash your creativity. Doodling collaboratively with someone else or a group helps you to see connections you might not have made on your own.
Imagination stretches such as describing the taste of a cloud or the sound the number six makes when he’s angry, can all help to unleash your creativity.
5. Delay Editing During the Draft
Writing and editing engage different sides of the brain. Writing well requires grabbing and holding the attention of your muse, or inner voice. When you try to edit as you are writing, your brain switches between two modes and is much more easily distracted. When you stop editing and return to writing, it takes a few minutes to get back in the flow of writing, and you run the risk that your muse got bored and wandered off while you were busy editing. For this reason, a writing tip most experts will recommend is to write to completion first, then go back and edit.
6. Use Tools
- Thesaurus: right click on a word to get a list of suggested replacements
- Dictionary: right click and choose Smart Lookup
- Apps to block social media and eliminate distractions
- Timers are great to help you free write or push yourself to reach writing goals.
- Grammarly is a computer app that catches and corrects your grammar. It also identifies passive voice, split infinitives, and other ways to improve your writing. You can also read our article on other writing software.
7. Get Writing Tips from the Legends
There are thousands of books on writing, some good, some not so good. You can learn something even by reading a bad book on writing. As a writer, you can save yourself some time and heartache by learning from the writing legends. Below are just a few of the books on writing that are must haves for any writer’s reference library:
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style
- Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones
- William Zinsser’s On Writing Well
- Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
- Stephen King’s On Writing
8. Master the Basics
- Word Usage (homophones, homographs, homonyms) & Grammar
- Short Stories to Novels
- Use of Possessives
9. Write Just Enough
One of the writing tips I’ve learned from my experience as a writer is to write just enough. When you are writing, you will reach a natural stopping point for your article, scene, dialogue, poem, short story, blog post, or even a journal entry. Writing just enough is different than running out of ideas or getting stuck and digging deeper to make sure you’ve covered all the angles. I find that when I try to stretch an article, blog post, or even a short story to meet an arbitrary word count, writing becomes a struggle and a chore.
10. Finalize with Fresh Eyes
Regardless of what you are writing, a page, chapter, essay, or blog post, set the draft aside for several hours or even overnight before you finalize it. When you edit, read with fresh eyes. Read it out loud or even in reverse order from the final sentence to the first sentence. Reading out of order helps you to catch typos because your brain isn’t as easily able to “fill in what is supposed to be there.” Finally, as recommended in Copy Logic by Michael Masterson and Mike Palmer, ask someone you trust to edit your writing by letting you know which parts are confusing, unbelievable, or boring (CUB).
Each of the writing tips above is designed to help you write more often and to write better than ever before. Use the ones that work well for you and shelve the others for another time. We all know we can never completely master everything these is to learn about writing, but we can get on the right path if we make a conscious effort to keep learning more every day.