11 Uncommon Ways to Learn How to Write Stronger (#9 is Really Left Field)
Without a doubt, my writing has grown since I first started my biz. And without intentionally deciding I was going to do these 11 things. I found that it significantly strengthened my writing.
Give it up...for happy coincidences.
1. Re-write Your Blog Posts
I can't tell you how many times, I've gone back and read a previously written piece and be like;
"OMG! this is dreadful. I certainly hope this didn't get any views."
(meanwhile 344 views later)
Either I misused or missed a word, said "so" excessively, or I was being too "proper" in my writing. I really hate when articles lack personality and the writer is trying to sound like something they're not. (Avoid these errors.) It takes time, to really step into your writing and own your stuff but don't be afraid to.
That is where the magic happens. Your money shot. The Je ne sais quoi! Where... "insert a silly cliche here". Couple months down the line, I'm probably going to shudder at this post too.
2. Write for Another Media Outlet
When I started blogging for bigger named publications, it was purely for selfish reasons. I wanted my name in the byline. (The little line of text at the end of an article. Usually referred to as a bio.)
I did it for applause & accolades.
How vain right?
But if I'm being honest, it may have been a vain goal of mine but it worked!
My writing got on several big name platforms and then I was held to a higher standard of writing. I had timelines, format, style, sound and editing requirements to adhere to. It forced me to take a look at my writing from an editor's point of view, especially when, my business is about writing other people's stuff!
Creative writing is great but not without some structure. A point. A goal. Which every piece you write --should have it.
3. Pull Inspiration Out of Thin Air
There are a lot of moans and groans from people who can't write, unless inspired...
I think this is absurd.
There are a lot of things in life we do, and we don't wait to be inspired to do it.
Taking out the trash, washing dishes, folding laundry, making dinner, taking care of another human being. None of those things inspire you to want to get up and do it...
So what's your motivation?
Why not wait for inspiration to hit, before you do the things you have to do??
Writing is like that too.
You find what motivates you and then go write.
You empty the trash, otherwise, your house would stink. You wash your dirty plates or you'll have nothing to eat on. You fold your laundry, otherwise, you'll have to iron them later. You make dinner because a man is not going to show up at your front door with food in hand. (If he does, marry him!)
You take care of your kid, parents, and/or partner because you love them and want to see them thrive. <---Motivation.
You write because ____________ (fill in the blank).
That's your motivation. Use it the next time you feel uninspired.
*I write because I love the way it makes me feel: creative, love, confident, lit up & God-filled.
4. Solicit Criticism
Having a go-to "read this plz" person for each newsletter, blog posts or even Facebook status --doesn't hurt.
It's wise to get an outside opinion on how you sound in your writing.
Am I being myself? Sounding authentic? Do you get what I'm saying in this sentence? Am I being clear? Would you find this interesting to read?
This type thing --keeps you accountable to your words and honoring your readers time.
5. Set up a Google Alert
Okay, you got me! Most of my writing is influenced by Google Alerts.
It's this little gem that hunts the internet for relevant content related to your industry. And emails it to you.
If you ever want to know what's going on & who's writing what, this is your #1 source.
How does it help you write stronger?? It keeps you on your A-game!
If Huffington Post just came out with an article on
"How to Buy the Best Fruit, When Funds are Low."
And you're a health coach. You know immediately, what your audience could be focused on. You can peep the interest for this topic and if there is one, write something from your expertise.
How can you do it better? Your Health Coach article:
"How Buying The Best Fruit is The Worst Decision For Your Body."
Game on. Huffington Post. Game on.
6. Trust Your Own Voice
Mimicking different styles of writing can set you up to find your own in the beginning. When I first started out I read very few blogs because I couldn't connect to their style of writing. Then I stumbled on this one blog and it changed the way I did everything!
I'm going to get technical on you for a minute.
Here are 4 different writing styles you'd see on blogs:
(definitions taken from hubpages.com)
Expository Writing } It is a subject-oriented writing style. The author focuses on telling you about a topic or subject without voicing their personal opinion.
When You Would Use Expository Writing:
- Textbook writing
- How-to articles
- News stories (not including opinion or editorial pieces)
- Business, technical, or scientific writing
This is the style I used when commissioned to write a piece on a bigger name blog about a specific subject. Sans, my opinion. (not my style)
Persuasive writing } contains the opinions and biases of the author. To convince others to agree with the author's point of view.
When You Would Use Persuasive Writing:
- Opinion and editorial newspaper pieces
- Reviews (of books, music, movie, restaurants, etc.)
- Letter of recommendation
- Letter of complaint
- Cover letters
This style of writing is mostly used throughout one's copy, particularly the sales page. As you are trying to persuade the reader to buy (in).
Descriptive Writing } It is a style of writing that focuses on describing a character, an event, or a place in great detail. It can be poetic when the author takes the time to be very specific in his or her descriptions.
When You Would Use Descriptive Writing:
- Journal or diary writing
- Nature writing
- Descriptive passages in fiction Fiction
Are best to set the scene and truly connect with the author, as if they're seated across from you.
Narrative Writing } the main purpose is to tell a story. The author will create different characters and tell you what happens to them (sometimes the author writes from the point of view of one of the characters).
When You Would Use Descriptive Writing:
- Short stories
- Autobiographies or biographies
- Oral histories
One of my favorite ways to write! It's as if, we're having a conversation and you & I have known one another for years. The style most readers connect to and now many big businesses are taking this same approach.
Once you find the style you like best --remix it, to match your own voice and flair. Add your message and pull your readers into your BIG picture ideas!
7. Journal Your Experiences
I wouldn't say, I'm a journal junkie but I had a few journals in my arsenal.
I can whip out one now and tell you what I did July 13th, 2001. I can tell you how I was feeling and where I was. And I wrote poetry back then, more than I do now. All my significant growth and the intuitive gifts I under utilized.
There is no pressure to write for yourself and to yourself.
Who else is going to see it?
It's just you, the paper, and the pen.
A place for you to be vulnerable and naked in your truth.
Have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Who cares? It's about getting your feelings out. Your hopes, goals, dreams and maybe, jotting down what you ate for dinner, that didn't agree with your stomach.
For your eyes only.
That's some of your best writing. (but please hire an editor before releasing it to the world)
8. Practice with Writing Prompts
— Ms. Cooper (@TennileCooper) January 12, 2016
It's not just for grade school!
In order to get better, you gotta practice and work your writing muscle. You need to be willing to look silly, go deep and be misunderstood.
That's the beauty of writing.
That's the beauty of finding who we are in different spaces and giving ourselves permission to be.
To just be.
Just freely write.
What does "confidence" feel like? (only your 1st thought)
9. Comment on Other People’s Stuff
Huh? Say what now...
Yes! and not no "Love it!" boring & basic comment either. I want you to read someone's post, newsletter or Facebook status and actually write how you truly felt about what they wrote. (Start with mine ;) )
Why did you "Love it!"? Explain...
How it stirred an emotion for you... The last time you felt this way... And why you felt compelled to say anything, at all...
Write something worthwhile. Because the author did. They put themselves out there. That's courage.
When practicing writing meaningful comments on other people's stuff, it gives YOU more meaning.
It adds to your brand and it tighten's up your writing skill. You side stepped from out your little space of the internet, for a moment, to chime in on something that moved you.
Writing because you have something to say is a hobby but writing with heart is an art.
10. Join a Writing Group
There is something to say about the energy a group can give you.
Everyone with the same mission or goal, coming together to be or to do profound things. Okay, too much pressure?... Coming together to support the other's craft.
It still sounds profound to me. A group will hold you accountable, be your "read this plz" person and push you out of your comfort zone.
So, you can get into your zone of brilliance!
I help women build a biz with a little less hustle and a lot more heart, over at the Hustle + Heart Heroine's Facebook group --if you're looking for one.
11. Read Books Not in Your Industry
This is a tip I rely on heavily, when stuck.
Usually, you can't find the words because you haven't been introduced to them yet or you need a different way of saying something.
Reading is a tool to open your mind to new worlds, deeper insight, and grants you a clear picture of the bigger picture.
Read when you don't know what to say. Read when you do. Read when you feel A-mazing. Read when you feel depressed. Read when you're not inspired. Read when you are.
Don't stop reading, it's the door to your writing soul. (I'm currently reading E-Cubed by Pam Grout)
The best kind of writing is when you just go with it, don’t schedule, don't edit it to death --just publish.
What do you think? Can you try out, at least, 1 out of the 11 uncommon ways to learn how to write stronger?
Let me know in the comments below!