If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, you may feel that the job is a lot of work. Perhaps it is more than you’ve bargained for, especially when you have to consider grammar, fact-checking, tone, and a myriad of other factors that separate your work from the amateurs. What can you do? Simple. You need some writing tips for beginners.
Let’s cut to the chase and lay out some basic writing tips for beginners that you might have overlooked.
Writing Tips for Beginners
We’ll start with this piece of advice: there’s no one tried-and-true approach to writing. It may seem paradoxical to dismiss advice from an article entitled “Writing Tips for Beginners,” but the truth is that no steadfast approach works 100% of the time. The best approach is to be fluid in your thinking; jettison what doesn’t work, and form your own opinions.
For instance, the popular adage, “write about what you know,” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! Yet, when new writers are looking for writing tips for beginners, this phrase seems like “common sense”—until it isn’t.
What Does ‘Good’ Mean for You?
Nowadays, there’s almost an infinite amount of ways to make money as a writer and audiences to write for. However, what matters most is if you enjoy the work or not. Even if you’re stuck writing something that you don’t necessarily enjoy, it can still be good for you in the long-run.
While you may not enjoy cranking out SEO for cantankerous clients, it could help you to market your own work in the future. It can help you to setup a blog, to promote an author site or even to promote your freelancing website. These hidden benefits don’t apply to all jobs, of course. Just ask yourself whether an easy job can offer you anything in the long run, and that includes considerable financial gain. And if not, maybe you’d be better off searching for another job.
Who Are You Writing For?
It’s important to understand who will be reading your work. Remember that the reader should be kept in mind for nearly every creative decision. Ask yourself whether what you’re writing would be confusing to a reader who is unfamiliar with your work. Are you being clear or needlessly clever?
Bear in mind, it isn’t about being too obvious or “dumbed-down”. Instead, it’s about not exhausting the patience of the reader.
Redefining What “Finished” Looks Like
“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”
– General George S. Patton, Jr.
Of all the writing tips for beginners we’re discussing, this one may immediately change how you view the profession. Simply put, there comes a point when “enough is enough.” If you’re sending out articles after you’ve successfully queried a publication, remember that editors will change your work to fit their mold. That paragraph that you labored over may be excised, or those careful word-choices may be changed with little discretion to how much hair you tore out! Heck, you may even be asked to rewrite the piece (some editors do this by default to ensure you revise your work).
Be Familiar with Your Tools
Inspiration is fickle and ideas are like smoke. Know the shortcuts of your word processing programs to write quicker. This includes apps on your smartphone, as well. Being able to take a quick note or jot down an idea at an inconvenient time can be a huge time-saver when you finally have time to work on the project.
It helps to have a streamlined workflow. For instance, keeping all of your notes together, making sure you save all of your files in a centralized location (with backups), and laying your work out in a deliberate manner. There’s nothing worse than sifting through an ever-increasing pile of notes and unlabeled text files when you could be finalizing that article.
Your Health is Your Career
While the other writing tips for beginners may have addressed creative and metal challenges, don’t forget about your health. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other related maladies can not only end your writing career, it can also make your life painful. Take time periodically to assess if you’re feeling any twinges of pain or a general malaise about your day.
This includes taking proper breaks, both mental and physical. Writing is a mentally-strenuous career path, just as staring at a computer screen strains your eyesight. Taking time away makes your work more efficient in the long-run.
Embrace the Rejection Mindset
Rejection and failure are part of the process of becoming a full-fledged freelancer. There’s no way to make it painless; instead, you should change your mental paradigm. Instead of avoiding pain and reasonable risk, embrace the “rejection mindset”.
Whether negotiating a raise in your rates to clients or querying editors, expect resistance. Learn the freelancing landscape in a visceral way, which can supplement your abstract knowledge. You could read all the writing tips for beginners on the Internet and still only have a partial grasp of what it means to be a writer.
As for dealing with the pain of rejection, try to take an objective view of your work. In other words, don’t take it personally no matter what you do. You should be looking for definitive feedback—What went wrong? What went right? From this assessment, you can make adjustments or praise your current business model. Even if you lost significant time or money (i.e. got ripped off by subcontractors), you can look on the bright side and chalk it up to a learning experience. If you repeated a mistake, well… try not to do it again!
Try to Sum Everything Up at the End
As the last of all the writing tips for beginners we’ve discussed in this article, remember that most of your work should have a solid conclusion at the end. It should be cohesive rather than disjointed. Amateur writers tend to hate these, especially in a digital age where our eyes skim for relevant information and ignore the “fat”. A well-written conclusion—like the very function of THIS paragraph—shows that you can sum up the work.
And a good conclusion shows how talented the writer is, right? By taking these writer tips for beginners to heart, you can get a head-start on your career making money as a bonafide writer!