Write Your Heart Out

The majority of my posts focus on writing longer works of non-fiction or fiction- novels or even short stories. But, most writers do not just write novels and/or stories. Most writers try to write all the time, which is hard to do when you are only writing longer books. Therefore, many writers are contributing columnists to some type of magazine or newspaper or have their own blog. It’s no surprise- writers like to write and to be writing all the time.

The more you write the better you will become. Writing a bunch of novels may have the same effect in the very long term, but many writers want improvement right now. They want to build skills that they can transfer over to their longer works and use to produce their best possible product. My suggestion, for the most accessibility and practice, would be to start your own blog and just write. Write about anything- it could be serious or funny, pointless or meaningful. Write about what you love or whatever is on your mind at the moment you sit down at your computer. Don’t over think anything and just write.

An article from the website, Business 2 Community, was recently published by Stacey Miller. She touched on ten important content factors writers should focus on whenever they write about anything in any form (novel, short story, blog post, or newspaper article).

Stacey gave ’10 Content Writing Fundamentals,’ all of which we should practice every time we sit down to write. The more we write, the more good habits we will learn:

1)      Make content habitual, not just an occasional activity. Write all the time. Every day you should write something– a story, an explanation, or some form of review.

2)      Be focused on your topic while being brief. All content pieces need a specific goal, achieve that goal in the shortest period of time. If you take too long to get where you are going, you might not have an audience once you finally get there.

3)      Use everything and anything to gather better information. Eavesdrop on people’s conversations while traveling, read comment sections, or listen to pundits. You need to get your own content and you need to get a lot of it in any way possible.

4)      Do not get bored of your topic. If you are bored the reader will be able to tell and mostly likely will become bored his or herself.

5)      Use colloquial terms. Do not use too much excess jargon. Explain your content with the simplest terms and get to the point. Make your writing relative enough that anyone can pick it up and get at least one thing out of your work.

6)      Be original. There is so much content available to us with the internet that sometimes this can prove hard to do. If you search anything, you will probably find an article about it from ten different perspectives. But, it is also easy to take a completely different perspective or spin on content that might already be in front of you. Originality is the essence of content. If you do use other sources, make sure you mention them.

7)      Use your audience to shape your content. Read things and listen to people that are similarly interested as you regarding specific subjects and topics. Figure out what they are interested in superficially and use that to form your content.

8)      Use visuals, “visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text alone.” Content will be more successful with imagery and is much more powerful that way.

9)      Have a good headline. A great headline will generate more readers, “a good headline presents a mystery that can only be solved by reading further. It is persona, insightful and shareable.”

10)   Make your content an experience. Using descriptive words and entertaining stories might not be enough to gain a loyal readership. Maybe you should include photos or GIFs in your work- anything to keep readers coming back.

This is just a brief, general synopsis of what Stacey said. There is a lot of other great information in her article, so I suggest you check it out yourself.

All ten points are spot on with what all writers should preach and the truth is we have something we can all work on. I know for myself that I should take some of these to heart and practice them, especially #10. Write on.

Note To All Writers

There was a recent article in PC Magazine, titled Beyond the Napkin: Organizing your Writing Notes, about writers and how they take, organize, and store their writing notes. It’s a really crucial task for all writers, and probably one we don’t think about or talk enough about. Understanding your own personal note taking process is crucial to successfully writing what you want to say and remembering what you want to write.

I personally would just like to share the article for the title alone- a clever tribute to the well documented history of writers who are known to jot down their best writing ideas on a napkin at a restaurant, bar, or anywhere else you may be able to find a napkin. But, in all reality, there is so much more to the art of note taking.

In the article, author Jill Duffy asked four other writers how they take and preserve their notes. Not surprisingly, the responses were all completely different. All of these successful writers have completely different ways of keeping and taking their notes- from saving them in the note pad on their cell phone, to emailing notes in the subject line of an e-mail (making the email the writers to do list), to just a simple pen and paper, or to not even using notes. One author even has different strategies depending on the type of writing she is doing, but realizes that she often starts with making notes just in the main document itself that she is currently working on.

All of these different methods work well. The one consistency is that all the writers have a method in place for note taking and keeping that works for them and their writing style. It’s important for all writers to master the art of note taking for themselves. All writers should at least have a known method/understanding of what works best for them when it comes to taking and storing notes, even if the method is not to use it often. The hard part is finding what works for you. Sometimes we all need a little motivation to force ourselves to find that method. It can be tedious task with several trials and errors. However, we all know what the cost of that lack of motivation could be the loss of a great idea. We have all stared at their computer screen, or note pad, rattling our brain to remember that awesome, revolutionary idea you had earlier. Do not let it happen to you twice, three times, four times, or five. Let’s just not let it happen ever again. If it has never happened to you and you do not have a note taking/keeping method yet than all I can say is lucky you. But I will also tell you that it will certainly happen to you one day- the one time it matters the most. Life can be funny that way. If you are writer, you must have a method for note keeping and taking. You never know what idea or inspiration will be the basis for your next writing piece, but as long as you have a method to keep track of your ideas no matter where you are, you will never have to worry about forgetting your next big break ever again. Write on.