I’ve written two articles recently that totally sucked.
Luckily I have amazing (and honest) editors that tell me when something needs a little—or a lot of—work.
At first I thought it was because I had written both articles on a very short timeline. While I honestly write nearly all of my articles quickly, these two were written in an especially tight time frame. Anyway, I realized something after pondering this second lacking piece, and what I realized was crucial.
Let’s dig right in—six tips for writing your best:
1. Be interested in the subject.
As a journalist, this isn’t always the case, trust me. You get assigned something and it doesn’t speak to you—at all. Still, if you don’t put your best efforts into research and writing something clear—and with a clear intention—then you’re doing everyone a disservice, especially your readers.
And if you’re blogging, which is my focus of choice right now, then you have zero excuses. Don’t blog about it if you don’t want to think and then write about it and, more, get in touch with why you want to share it in the first place. Which brings me to…
2. Don’t hide.
The piece of critical information that came to me after I submitted yet another less than stellar article was this: I’ve been in a challenging personal space lately and I was using some of my current event articles to escape from having to truly share. Point: if you don’t want to open up and write then, well, don’t. Because…
3. Write like no one’s reading.
We will connect most with other people by divulging aspects of ourselves and our lives that they can relate to. No one can relate to us if we don’t let them in, at least a little.
If this is foreign territory for you then my suggestion is to analyze why you want to write or blog at all. If you can’t be open first with yourself and then with your readers, what’s your intention? If it’s to get famous or earn a lot of money, suffice it to say you’re in the wrong field.
4. Be appropriate and have boundaries.
Rarely does this happen, but on occasion, I’ll read a blog that makes me cringe.
Oh, I think as my face crunches up and my heartbeat quickens, you did not just say that about your ex and use her name. Ooooooh, I did not just read that about your child on social media.
Point: there’s truly an art to sharing.
Moreover, people often falsely think they know you intimately when you write “open” materially effectively. What I would remind people of—especially writers—is that there is absolutely an art to divulging enough to gain connection and understanding without forgoing your own private boundaries or becoming, worse, pathologically obvious—and this particular art is, in my book, unquestioningly necessary as a blogger.
5. For the love of God, have a better title than “open letter.”
6. Don’t forget to live.
So you want to be a writer? Then don’t forget that you need to live your life.
Characters are often fusions of people past and present, and ideas spring up like hidden wells when you least expect them because real life is inspiring. No matter how much you want to write, or how well you actually do, never forget to get out there and live if you want endless sources of inspiration—and that’s coming from someone who writes obsessively.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
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Editor: Catherine Monkman