You want to improve your writing. You’re either a professional writer, or you want to be paid for your words. Readers and students often ask for “writing secrets”. I’m not sure that there are any, sadly.
Over the years, I’ve found what works for me and students, but they’re not secrets. One thing I can promise you, if you follow these six ways to improve your writing, you’ll sell more.
Let’s get started.
1. Stop trying to do everything at once: compartmentalize
Multi-tasking used to be fashionable, and in a sense it works. I read ebooks and make notes, or watch YouTube while I’m cooking, for example. However, trying to do too much at once is a big reason your writing may fail to accomplish what you want it to do.
Here’s a way to compartmentalize your writing. We’ve discussed this on the blog and elsewhere, when we talking about batching, and your writing process.
I suggest that you chunk your writing down into six activities:
- Ideas: get ideas for a project, or projects.
- Create quick titles and/ or outlines;
- Write — first draft;
- Research — write first, research later, otherwise “research” becomes a black hole into which your writing disappears for ever (I know this because many of my best ideas have foundered on this step. So have many of my students’ projects);
- Edit and rewrite;
- Polish and publish.
You can chunk the above activities down even further if you like, but please, if you want to write professionally, and sell your work, don’t try to do everything at once.
2. Schedule: respect your time (no one else will)
One of my students, Mandy, has a sign on her office door: “If you’re not bleeding, DO NOT KNOCK”.
This is because when her husband committed to working from home three days a week, she thought that they could share home duties. It didn’t work out that way, until they negotiated an agreement. So, when her office door is closed, her husband deals with household matters.
Learn to say no, and schedule your time.
3. Write to EXPLORE and understand: journal
Writing isn’t typing. If only it were. 🙂 Writing is thinking, and the best way to work things out, is to write. We’ve discussed journaling. Your journal helps you to not only understand your writing, but also yourself.
4. Writers write: count your words daily (so you’ll know if you’re slacking)
Life is messy. Things happen. At various times in your writing career, your life takes first place, and writing takes a back seat. However, if you’re a writer, you can’t toss your writing out of your life completely.
No matter what else you have to do, spend time writing each day — even if it’s only ten minutes. And count your words.
One day, your writing will just be a habit: something you do. You won’t have to think about it, nor will you need to force yourself.
5. Stop trying to “write”, communicate instead
What do you want to say? Often, you don’t know. Allow yourself to explore your ideas. See 3. Write to EXPLORE, above.
You can improve your writing by reading more, studying grammar if you need to, and reading style guides. Start with The Elements of Style.
6. Sell something today (and every day)
You write, so that you have something to sell. Sell it. I can’t say it any plainer than that.
If you feel you “don’t like marketing”, do it anyway. Alternatively, you can treat your writing as a hobby; you may not be ready to develop a real career. If you keep writing, that will change. One day, you’ll be ready to market your writing, and it will be fun for you.
So, there you have it. Six ways to improve your writing and sales. Write on. 🙂
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