Remember last week when I was all, “I can’t be a writer because I don’t know the rules?” Well, over the years I’ve tried to teach myself a rule or two. I mostly have no idea what I’m talking about and found these resources while Googling things like how to write. But I found more than my fair share of inspiration.
When I started blogging regularly, I developed a few habits that stuck. Now this is the only way I can write:
1. Brain dump
There’s nothing that kills my creativity more than trying to draft in the perfect voice. Whether I’m trying to write web copy or an introspective blog post, the only way I know how to get my thoughts down is to write exactly like I think. Most of the time it makes zero sense, but sometimes gold happens.
Enter 750words.com. I tried the concept of morning pages in an actual journal, but my handwriting sucks and my brain works faster than my pen. Even though I’m more of an analog girl, doing my freeform writing digitally means that in 8 minutes I’ve knocked out 750 words, it’s legible and easy to paste should blogging inspiration strike.
As soon as I open my computer in the morning, this is the first thing I do. Brain dump. And if it turns into a post later on, sweet.
2. Edit, rinse, repeat
After the brain dump I take a break and don’t read what I’ve written until a day or two later. If it’s blog material, I paste into WordPress. That’s when I organize. Sometimes I read through, get confused about what the heck I’m trying to say, so take a step back and write a small outline. If I were to explain this post to someone, how would I do it?
A great example is last week’s post about not being a writer. My outline looked like this:
- Always thought I would be a writer. Story about writing as a kid.
- Various attempts to make a living being a writer. Hated it. Sad panda.
- Realized there are many ways to be a writer. Yay!
- What I’m doing about it.
Then I reordered my brain dump to fit this storyline. Then I edit the shit out of it. I usually can’t do more than an hour at a time so I’ll restructure, take a break, come back the next day, edit again, take a break. Come back that afternoon, do a few more tweaks. I usually whittle down an original brain dump of 1,000 words to around 600.
When I don’t do this, it’s obvious.
I repeat myself. I say in four words what I could have said in one. When I look back at some of my old blog posts I wish I had used the below articles to make it better improve them. If anyone has any other articles they use like this, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your resources for making your writing as crisp and clear as this one.
3. Go through the following resources to catch mistakes
This is where the “rules” come in. Over the years I’ve found some fantastic resources on the best ways to cut and tighten your copy. I have these babies bookmarked and I go through them one-by-one.
- Self-editing: 10 ways to tighten your copy ~ Alexis Grant
- 25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy ~ The Write Life (an extension of the above post on Alexis’ writing blog)
- 7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful ~ Boost Blog Traffic
- Improve Your Writing with These Editing Tips ~ Lifehacker
New obsession: While not related to my process, I have been digging Medium’s writing prompts as a way to use my time on 750words as less of a diary and more of a time to practice writing things that make me uncomfortable.
What am I missing? Any other great habits you fancy writers have? Posts you recommend where I can study the lay of the land?