I love to write and read. They are manna to my existence besides pet dogs, family, gardening, travelling, watching movies, a good Riesling and cooking of course. So I invariably, unconsciously end up doing a lot of both. Now I’m no expert while it comes to writing but I seem to communicate better in the written word than the spoken. So oftentimes I have people with great ideas who would love to write but are inhibited by themselves asking me: “How can I write more, how can I write Better?”
Well I don’t claim to know much of both, but, for starters, here is what I have learnt over the years as a journalist and a communications professional.
1. The first trick I was taught was to consider writing like a work of art. If you are given a canvas to paint what would you do first. Sketch an outline and then fill in the colors, right? (Correct me if I’m wrong here or if there are better techniques I’m always wanting to learn). Well writing is the same. So whether it is an essay, a term paper, an email, a case study, a marketing brochure, an article, an interview or a short story ALWAYS have an outline.
This outline could be a story idea where you know how it ends and begins so connect the dots. The plot is your canvass to paint as you please. Same with an essay or a term paper or a case study and here you are luckier since you already have a theme.
2. Always write your thoughts down on paper before you start tap-tapping on your keyboard. This will help you Structure your thoughts better. Help see if there is a logical flow.
3. Write what you believe in else it ends up a farce. Now this could be difficult with writing a piece of marketing collateral, say a brochure for an underwear company that wants you to claim they make undies that give you the power of superman/woman ;0. Hehe, get creative.
4. Writing is all about letting your creativity flow. Don’t let others judge your creativity or tell you how bad or good you are. If you are willing to read what you have written once, twice and several times more than my friend there is someone/people out there willing to read you. Of course this doesn’t mean you malign another’s character or spew vitriol brandishing your pen. Writing gives you artistic license but it also means being responsible for what you write.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously as a writer, that is where you falter. Writing is about having fun. Whether you write about yourself, some one else, a product or a theme but always inject humor (if possible).
6. Write and write and then write some more. The more you write the better you get at it. This dated NYT article is worth a read if nothing but to understand the world’s most prolific writer Mr James Patterson. He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most number of NYT Best Sellers. Of course, he uses co-authors now to write novels published in his name but this also gives him more time to concentrate on books he wants to focus on, so he says. But the point is the prolific nature of his writing. So write now, today, this instance.
7. KISS still holds true. Sigh, and this was one of the most difficult things I learnt since early in my career as a writer I was given a subtle message that more is beautiful and only much later did I realise ’tis not. . You don’t need to write long-winded sentences or obfuscated text. Simplicity is key to all things good, and this is especially true in writing. Writing is after all a means of communication and if you keep it simple it is easier to get your message to your reader.
For those who don’t know (huh anyone there?!), KISS = Keep It Simple Silly/Stupid 😀
8. PROOF READ. It has become a fashionable trend these days to write in sms lingo, use atrocious grammar, unintended bloopers because a busy writer forgot to do a basic spell check or even write without periods and other punctuation. STOP! If you plan to become the next blockbuster author pay heed to what you write.
9. At some point in time all of us deal with the Writer’s Block. Simple way out. Get back to basics. Writing is an exercise and that is why our grade school teachers pushed us to fill up reams of paper with our thoughts, ideas and purpose. Some times the best way to beat the Writer’s Block is to write, even if its is nonsensical!
10. Develop your own unique style. While injecting humor is a good idea, it is easier said than done. All of us have our own unique style of writing. Some of us are staid and old fashioned, while some dashing, some irreverent, some humorous, some wield a poison pen but coat with irresistible doses of sugar, some are bitter, some are sweet, sometimes cloyingly so. So what’s yours?!