Writing has always been the core of any communication. Back in the 90s, people had pen and paper to write and communicate their thoughts. However, as technology evolved, several digital platforms like Medium and Quora came to the forefront giving users more options to write and communicate with each other. But the questions that you must ask yourself are — Can these platforms teach you the nuances of writing like a PRO? Can you rely on these platforms to become a good writer?
And, Is writing that easy?
Being an experienced folk from the content/digital marketing industry, I often come across people who dream of becoming an author but do not have the necessary skill-set to accomplish their goals. Even on Quora, I often come across such questions wherein people are either trying to land a job as a content writer or simply want to learn the trade. Here’s a quick overview of the questions I usually answer on Quora:
- How can I become a good writer and improve my skills of thinking?
- What are the qualities of a good writer?
- What skills does a good writer need?
- How should I start writing?
and the list goes on.
Are you someone who’s struggling with these similar questions? Do you also want to be a writer but not sure how to proceed to the next level? Follow these 9 valuable tips (shown in the infographic) and get going. These 9 tips aren’t just for the freshers, but even experienced folks can find them beneficial. So, without further ado, let’s begin:
Read and Write More
There’s a saying — Books are our best friends. It’s 100% true and means something. If you dream to be a great writer, you must make books your friend. Inculcate in yourself the habit of reading and see how intellectual you become. Constant reading will also improve your vocabulary — an important add-on to your personality.
That being said, you mustn’t forget to “WRITE”. It will help you learn the art of using a similar word in different contexts. Further, it will help you generate error-free copies which will come in handy if you’re a part of a professional setup.
Researching, reading, and then writing is one of the simplest methods to begin your journey as a writer. If you’re still unsure, take help of these pointers for better understanding:
- Identify your niche: Niche is any topic or category that interests you. It is something that you love to read about, talk about in your social circle and you are always up-to-date about it. Health and fitness, Technology, Digital Marketing, Lifestyle, and beauty, etc. are some of the most popular niches that people write on. So, explore your personality and pick your niche accordingly.
- Perform thorough research: Once you have identified your core niche, you can start researching it. Subscribe to newsletters from authority websites i.e., which have a good online reputation, videos, etc. As we are living in a digitized world, there’s no lack of information available. So, make optimum usage of online and offline resources before you start writing.
- Build a structure and then write: Once you have enough information w.r.t your piece, design a proper content creation strategy relevant to your topic. A defined structure not only makes your content more presentable in the eyes of your audience but is good from the SEO point as well. As is said:
Read Books by some Notable Authors to Grasp their Artistic style of Writing. Learn from the Masters and Emulate them to Identify your VOICE.
You must have heard the phrase: Practice Leads to Perfection. The same fit with writers too. If you’re eager to learn the basics, you must practice more without the fear of judgment. Writing is a skill that can’t be mastered in one day but needs regular practice. Focusing on grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, sentence structure — are all a part of your learning. Once you feel, you have a better understanding of these parameters, you can look for high-paying clients like media publications/newspapers, etc., and pitch your content to them.
De-clutter Your Mind
One of the most important aspects that you must remember as a writer is to have a clear mind. A mind full of random thoughts hamper your writing style and ultimately your productivity.
If you’re someone from the content/digital industry, having clarity of thoughts can do wonders for you. It can help you figure out — your content strategy, its structure alongside your style of writing and turn any random piece into a masterpiece.
In case you’re finding it hard to de-clutter your mind, then plug in your earphones and listen to some music. If music isn’t your thing, try other stress-reliever activities like yoga and medication. These activities too can calm your mind giving you a refreshed mind and encouraging a smooth flow of fresh thoughts.
Begin your Piece With a Question
Creating a content piece that leaves an impression is getting tough. It’s majorly because search engines are constantly upgrading their algorithms encouraging webmasters to create user-friendly content. Considerable decline in the attention span of human beings further makes it difficult for you to woo your target audience. So, how can you achieve the impossible?
Well, it’s fairly easy. If you’re noticing that your audience isn’t engaging well with your content and your website’s bounce rate is shooting up like a rocket, here’s what you need to do.
Start your blog post with a thought-provoking question.
According to experts, starting your content with a rhetorical question or a question that seems relatable to them helps. Research has proven that the more conversational your content piece, the more love it gets from your audience. Starting your piece with an answer often leaves your blog incomplete. So, begin with a question and then pour in your thoughts.
The technique of WHY, WHAT, and HOW works wonderfully.
Let’s understand this technique with an example. Suppose you’re curating a post on “Email marketing”. So, according to this technique, your blog format would be:
- WHY: It can include — why is it critical for you to focus on ‘Email Marketing’
- WHAT: In this segment, state the definition and other aspects of Email marketing.
- HOW: This segment revolves around practical implementation. How can a beginner start with Email marketing, what’s the best strategy to implement, basic pointers one must keep in mind before applying its principles, etc.
P.S. — It isn’t a standardized rule. It may or may not work for you. So, experiment with different structure layouts and formats and identify which one works best for you.
Understand your Target Audience
To ensure that your content makes some difference, you must invest time in understanding your audience’s needs. You must define your target audience carefully to ensure your conversion rate improves and your readers benefit from your piece. If you’re confused about how can you start learning more about your audience, take the help of the following pointers:
- Create different user personas so that you can visualize them while creating content.
- Rely on the Google Analytics tool to obtain extensive data about your audience and how do they engage with your posts.
- Conduct user/audience surveys regularly to learn what your audience is thinking.
- Invest time in interacting with your followers on social media
Never compromise on your content quality and make a dent by creating compelling content throughout.
You might also love reading: How to Use Google Analytics: A Beginner’s Guide
Talk it Through
Have you ever begun documenting a piece and abruptly left it hanging in the middle? I’m sure, you must have done it multiple times. We as human beings have a natural tendency to initiate certain tasks in full enthusiasm and then forget about them as the excitement fades away. Result?
An incomplete post and an irregular schedule to deal with. No one but us is to be blamed for this. The lack of a proper writing schedule combined with the lack of practice is what kills this enthusiasm. But it must exist within us so that we can push ourselves to the end shore.
In case, you’re battling such issues, you can either implement the best tips to self-motivate yourself or apply the “TALK IT THROUGH” approach.
If you’re wondering the meaning of “Talk it Through”, it simply means — the art of how you converse with each other. How well can you talk to a stranger or someone who is known to you makes all the difference.
If conversing isn’t your forte, you can also use a simple voice recorder/a dictaphone to keep the interaction ongoing. You can even try walking down the lane if you’re into fitness. The whole idea is to keep yourself engaged and brimming with positivity.
One famous notion that we writers believe in is: Great conversations and thinking are done while you are on the move. So, why not try moving out and let great ideas filter out of your clogged mind with minimal effort. It’s worth a trial, what do you say?
Be an Unbiased Critic of your Work
In the words of a famous author — Stephen King:
To write is human, to edit is divine
If you wish to be an excellent writer, you must learn the art of editing. Most beginner writers struggle to create masterpieces and editing documents, but all it requires is constant practice. You must know that even renowned authors/writers struggle with the opening and closure paragraphs of their masterpieces, so if they can, you’re not out-of-this-world.
As a writer, you must determine if a particular word/statement/paragraph will add value to your content piece or not. If it does, retain it, and if it doesn’t, then simply delete it without second thoughts.
You must stick to the main pointers as nobody loves to read cliches and abstract thinking. The burgeoning question remains: how can you avoid cliches and edit like a PRO?. Here’s what I follow when it comes to editing my pieces:
- Once I have written my post, I go back and DELETE my opening and closing paragraphs.
- Take a break to re-look at the content doc later with a fresh mindset and perspective.
- The momentary break enhances my productivity and allows me to create a better copy of the opening and closing paragraphs
Figure out what relaxes you and then establish a routine to edit your content pieces. Take the help of these basic tips to improve your proofreading skills and start pushing out top-notch content consistently for your readers.
Your Location Matters — Choose it Wisely
Have you ever tried writing while you’re sitting in the lap of nature? Or perhaps in a coffee shop? It may sound weird to you, but the environment can give a significant boost to your writing speed and productivity. As technology is invading our privacy, the mental health of teenagers and others is becoming a concern.
This unwanted anxiety and stress affect not just you, but everyone in your vicinity. So, how can you fight this inner turmoil? The steps are simple and listed below:
- Play some music to untangle your mind
- Step out of your workplace and take a walk-in or around nature
- Change the ambiance of your workstation by using scented candles or fancy lights
- Use a stress-buster ball or start meditating to improve your concentration abilities
You may find these steps weird to read or try, but these subtle changes can do wonders. Try out these tips continuously for seven days and by the end of the week, you’ll see a significant improvement in your work proficiency.
If you’re a part of a corporate setup, then obviously, you may not be able to ask for scented candles as it will look odd. However, don’t lose hope yet as I have an alternative solution that you may like. Refer to these handy tips to beat your workplace stress and give yourself a dedicated work-life balance. Apply the tactics and ensure you are on the right path to living a healthy life and simultaneously move up to becoming an excellent writer.
Experiment with Styles But Maintain Your Originality
You must have heard the famous Hindi proverb: नक़ल में भी अक्ल की जरुरत पड़ती हैं and it’s 100% true. Most writers in their initial days struggle to frame out statements and consider copy-pasting content from other authority websites covering the same topic or rely on article spinners. But, by following this approach, you often lose out on your originality. Learning from the masters is okay, but blatantly copying their content and marketing it under your name is a big NO.
It’s okay to experiment with 1000s of styles, tone, voice, etc. but ultimately, you must identify your personalized style that is unique to you. As is said:
An Invention is a Key, but Tossing out what’s NOT RELATED is equally Important.
Learn to Accept Criticism
Are you someone who believes in achieving perfection in everything you do? Trust me you’re not alone. We as human beings aren’t too open to criticism. We fail to accept and acknowledge the feedback we receive from others (especially someone we aren’t too friendly with). Most of us, consider it okay to criticize others, but when we are in the limelight, it’s a completely different story altogether.
In the words of Norman Vincent Peale
The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.
The above quote makes perfect sense since if you desire to learn, you must practice the art of accepting feedback as well.
If you work with multiple clients, there are times when the client requests you to rewrite a piece ’n’ number of times, at least till it meets their expectations. These repetitive iterations might irritate you but helps you learn the art of being patient and becoming a better writer.
In today’s world of digitization, content is the backbone of SEO and can make or break a business. So, you must scrutinize and review a content piece multiple times (if required), until you’re sure that it’s providing value to your readers and is of top-notch quality.
If you want to improve your writing skills and vocabulary, reach out to editors of large publications like The Hindu, The Times of India, etc. These editors are vocal about mistakes, have an amazing vocabulary, and a keen eye for details to pinpoint your errors. So, be appreciative of their feedback and work on it consistently to shape yourself into a professional writer.
Do remember a simple fact:
The More You Practice Writing, the Easier it will Get for You.
These were some of the best writing practices I urge most newbie writers to follow. What is your “secret mantra” that has helped you over the years and in embarking on the journey of becoming an ace writer? How do you ensure that your content remains top-notch and client-ready? Do pour in your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Originally published at https://whereispillmythoughts.com on May 6, 2021.