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How to Be a Good Writer

Updated on May 1, 2011

Intro to Good Writing

This lens isn't about blogging. It's not about pitching articles or PR. It's about writing and only writing.

It's for writers who want to get better -- for those who know that they have something to learn. It's not a place where the elite can become more elite. It's a resource for ordinary people who have passion to communicate can get some help. Enjoy.

Become a better writer (Photo by Erin Kohlenburg)
Become a better writer (Photo by Erin Kohlenburg)

Writing Tips

How to Become a Better Writer

1) Read. And read a lot.

My mom used to read the dictionary to me on long car rides, quizzing me on random words. While I don't think that this is necessary, it helped me win the 6th Grade Spelling Bee (and be a stickler for words in the future).

Words are your main tool in writing, and if you don't build your vocabulary through reading, you greatly limit how you can express yourself. Reading is the best way to get introduced to new words.

2) Brush up on grammar.

Get a decent grasp of general English grammar, but I warn you - once you understand the "rules" better, you realize how flexible many of them are. English is an evolving language.

Nonetheless, you have to learn the principles behind them before you just start poetically breaking them.

3) Pre-write.

Brainstorm, write rough sketches, draft up lists, do that silly spider-thing you learned how to do in Grade School (where you connect all the ideas in the bubbles to main bubble, which looks like a spider's body).

Take some time to figure out what you really want to write about. Then develop a structure around it, with a general direction of where you want to go.

Structure gives you something in which you can exercise your creativity without getting lost on a tangent.

4) Write.

Try to do this every day, but give yourself grace. Writing a little bit each day (e.g. 30 minutes) is more important than blocking out huge chunks of time (e.g. 3-4 hours).

Make it a priority to write every day, even when you don't feel like you have something to say. Write when you hate it and when you'd rather do something else. Write when it sounds amazing, and when it feels pretty rote. Just write. This will keep you sharp and allow you to grow as a writer.

5) Re-write.

Once you write something, you need to review it, and maybe have someone else you trust review it.

Now, here's the tricky part. If something stinks, throw it away. Stephen King calls this killing our "darlings" -- those beloved pieces of ours that don't fit in the rest of the piece. This is essential to becoming a mature writing -- learning how to throw away your crap.

This practice also helps you avoid the temptation to salvage a sentence or paragraph that you think has a good ring to it. Just throw it away.

6) Ship.

Whatever you write, after some considerable revising and editing, ship it. Release it. Let it go. Publish.

This is scary, and the artist inside of you will resist this, but shipping is necessary to becoming a better writer. You have to put your stuff out there.

Every writer thinks they have a book that they've written. They just haven't showed it to the world. The reality is that most don't. You become a published writer by publishing your content, even when you don't absolutely love it.

When given the choice between sitting on your content for another week, month, or year and letting the world see it, choose the latter.

Link List - Writing Tips from Around the Web

A list of links to helpful content on how to be a good writer

Writing Books - Straight from Mr. Amazon Himself

Here are some helpful books in your learning to be a better writer.

This lens is a work-in-progress. Let me know how I can improve it.

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