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10 tips on how to write a great lens
Writing tips for lensmasters (and all other writers)
10 tips on what you SHOULDN'T do if you're trying to write a great lens
Need some help with your online writing creative block? Here's some tips on how to get you moving with a flashing speed.
Warning: serious risk of loud laughter waking up your neighbours!
So... you want to be a writer?
Writing an article is a bit like preparing for an exam. You know you are supposed to sit down, grab the book/pen/keyboard and do the actual work, but suddenly you get this overwhelming desire to make your place sparkling clean. Well, no one can be expected to work in an untidy environment, am I right? So you go ahead and file through those forgotten drawers and clean out the attic that no one has visited for last fifteen years, only for the sake of your article, of course. After an hour/day/week (cross out whatever doesn't fit) you don't have a particle of dust left around you and it's time to do the work. But then - rumble, rumble, rumble... You can't write on empty stomach, right? And no, you will not ring for a pizza, because junk food is bad for your soul/work/stomach/ideology (choice of excuse is yours!). Quick cold snack won't do, either. It's time for a proper dinner! If you are a crappy cook, that's even better. First, you need to dig out that dusty (oops, no, dust disappeared in the previous cleaning episode), that sparkling clean cookbook that your Auntie Betty gave you for your fifteenth birthday when she decided it's time for you to learn how to be a proper housewife. Dig the book out and choose the longest recipe available - of course you're getting ambitious, after all your honour is at stake! What would Auntie Betty think if you chose a ham sandwich for your very first cooking masterpiece? Don't forget about starters, soup and desserts! You know you wouldn't be able to write anything without that sweet rush after a heavy dinner anyway. Also, run around your family and ask if any of them is a vegetarian by any chance. Nobody in? Well, wouldn't your Dad like to become one, right here, right now? (Here you plunge into a long lecture about life-saving benefits of veg and importance of keeping a healthy diet. If he doesn't break, choose another victim. Someone is bound to give in!). So you start this 7-course dinner with a vegetarian, vegan and gluten free option, while the time tick-tocks and your article remains blissfully unwritten...
You know how it goes, anyway.
So what to do if you REALLY want to get the job done and REALLY want to see this piece of fabulous news/advice/tutorial/creative writing with your name underneath? Well, there's plenty of things to DO, but what's more important, here's my top ten of things NOT to do.
Stick to it and you're safe sailing.
1. DO NOT go on the Internet to look for inspiration
Ok, I know how important it is to know your subject, and to check out what your target audience is thinking etc. etc., but let's be honest - you will only while away some more time. AND you'll end up feeling seriously down, because all those fabulous people out there write such great stories, with such a light, amusing style, and they don't seem to have any trouble at all with keeping up to their deadlines, or inspiration, or site traffic. While you... Here's the space for your inner critic to get wild with reasons why you will never make it so there is no point in even starting, after all you will only waste your time and end up no good. Your inner critic is the last person you need to listen to right now, do believe me.
2. DO NOT dig out that to do list you have created two years ago and didn't even touch since
Hey, listen, if someone isn't screaming at you about it, it's not really important right now. Neither is cleaning, cooking, shopping, ringing your Grandma, reading your horoscope, walking your dog, doing your taxes, clipping your toenails, NOTHING is more important right now than you sitting down and writing this damn article!! If you feel you will end up in a pigsty with lot of angry relatives hovering around you with bazookas, and all because your creative rush, let me reassure you - not likely to happen. If you want to be extra sure - give yourself a limited amount of time. Reserve that hour, or two hours, or whatever you're comfortable with, for yourself and your work. Do the writing and forget everything else. Let there be an earthquake, you are a writer at work and nothing is to disturb you. Understood?
3. DO NOT look for places to sell your article even before you've came up with the title
Apart from taking a lot of time and pressing on you tons and tons of unreal expectations, it will do one serious harm to your creative process. You are going to write because you enjoy it, right? The process itself is a pleasure, do I get it correct? You feel the creative urge in your soul and you need to express it by typing away? Otherwise you would politely get that job at a desk/counter/till and keep on the threadmill, right? My point is - remember you're not doing it for the money (not only, anyway). Once you start doing it for money's sake instead of your own satisfaction, you will know you landed up in a really hard occupation with big competition and serious health risk (my eyes! my poor eyes! I can't feel my fingers from typing!) and crappy pay and you don't even like the job. Soooo... we don't want to end up there, do we?
4. DO NOT think 'what is hot right now', think 'what I think is hot'
I'm not trying to completely forbid writing about cool things and I'm not telling you to forget the very word 'fashion'. Yet, for reasons similar to point three - stick to what you like to write about. If you start writing about Lady Gaga's new dress, but in your heart of hearts you hate pop culture, haute couture and female singers in particular, you will go through a hellish process of squeezing words out of your brain against its will, and chances are that the article will be less than decent anyway. So - write about what you like, first and foremost. Oh, if it is cool, too, it won't hurt.
5. DO NOT set yourself too high expectations
So, you want to write like Shakespeare, but none of your works are even remotely similar to Romeo and Juliet? No need to burn the whole manuscript straight away. The Internet does not require golden masterpieces, but it has a lot of space for decently written, helpful articles, that people will enjoy reading without a college degree. Besides, Shakespeare lived four hundred years ago and no one has beaten him since, why should you? Of course, you still may write this once-in-a-lifetime-genius-piece, but it won't hurt if you get some practice before, will it?
6. DO NOT get personal
If you aren't Mick Jagger, probably not too many people will be interested in who did you go out with when you were seventeen, nor will they want to know why did you tell your boss he's a wicked bastard just before you were fired from your last job. People browsing the Internet are looking for something to enrich THEIR life, not yours. So - write something that helps, give something. If you have to write about your last big life crisis, at least make it funny. Or add a complete list of activities/institutions that helped you get out of it. If you completely cannot stop yourself from incorporating your deepest, most personal thoughts into your writing - keep a diary. That will take at least some of the steam off.
7. DO NOT think what people you know will think of your work
Remember this English teacher that always chastised you for terrible grammar when you were in fifth grade? Whatever you do, DO NOT think of her when you're sitting down to do some work. If your boyfriend is peeking from behind your shoulder, he'd better be really supportive (if that's the type of thing you need) or just tell him to go away! Silence helps. Solitude helps. And NOT thinking of other people judgements helps immensely!
8. DO NOT forget to be playful
After all, you're not serving a sentence. Make people laugh. Make yourself laugh, first. Auto-irony and distance to one's precious self are the most helpful tools of an Internet writer. When people want to be serious and proper, they turn to academic handbooks. Internet is mostly for fun, and even if it teaches, it mostly teaches through entertainment. And what is the best way to write a funny, witty article? Get playful, break few rules, have some fun! The world is serious enough without your grim face, so lighten up!
9. DO NOT treat your words as written in stone
Well, it's true that Internet contents tend to last, Google does not forget, as someone once told me. But for heaven's sake, you're not signing legal documents! Human beings are entitled to change their minds and you are too. So, you want to write this revolutionary essay on importance of being a vegetarian? Don't let the thought of eating meat one day stop you! You are here, at this particular stage of your life and step of your private learning curve, and this is what you can tell about it. What if it changes one day? Well, you can always write an article about what made you change your mind!
10. DO NOT listen to every advice offered on writing for the Internet
Even mine! You are your own person, you have your likes, dislikes, rhythms, dynamics, systems, tips... If mine seem to be in conflict with your own, stick to your guns! Hey, you're the star here, not me, nor any of thousands of online good-wishing advisors. And if you're overwhelmed by all the tips out there - switch the browser off, make yourself a good cup of tea, sit down and write what your heart desires, because THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT.
Man, I hope. From my side I can tell you it was an unexpected pleasure to write.
Good luck with all your creative enterprises and don't stop believing in your own abilities!
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How do you like this lens? What would you change? Is there anything you agree/don't agree with? Tell me, I want to know it ALL!