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6 Of The Best Pieces of Advice From Successful Writers

I’ve been reading some advice from successful writers lately and exploring what their routines are like to see what I can learn about them.

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Here are six of the most common pieces of advice I came across that have helped me a lot improving my writing here at Buffer.

It also features actionable tips for you on how to implement them in your own writing.

 

1. The best ways to get over the “blank page hurdle”

 

I write because it comes out — and then to get paid for it afterwards? I told somebody, at some time, that writing is like going to bed with a beautiful woman and afterwards she gets up, goes to her purse and gives me a handful of money. I’ll take it. — Charles Bukowski

Unlike Charles Bukowski, writing well doesn’t come so easily for a lot of us (including me). It takes a lot of mental energy, strains your working memory and often makes you feel vulnerable if you try to be open and honest in your work.

 

The pure effort of writing is hard enough, but coupled with the pain of putting your work out into the world and letting others judge it, this can be enough to stop you from getting started at all.

 

The trick to overcoming this isn’t easy, but it’s surprisingly effective: give yourself permission to write badly, and just start.

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird wrote an excellent essay on why writers must start with horrible drafts:

I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.

Anne’s essay makes me feel much better about the hard work of writing great content, as she makes it clear that all great writers struggle with their first drafts:

We all often feel like we are pulling teeth, even those writers whose prose ends up being the most natural and fluid.

So to get over the biggest hurdle–the blank page–just get writing. Don’t be afraid that your draft might be bad (it probably will be, but that’s okay.)

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper.

10 Rules for Writing First Drafts

 

(Great infographic from Copyblogger)

2. Discard clichés: How to stop writing like “you’re meant to write”

Down with the cliché! If only it were that easy. Clichés surround us, and it’s surprisingly hard to avoid using them.

Put simply, in writing, clichés are bland and overused phrases that fail to excite, motivate, and impress your readers or prospective buyers. (6)

Clichés dominate our language both in speaking and writing. This is because we hear them all the time, so they become the first phrases that come to mind when we want to express ourselves. Which is exactly why they’re a problem:

Given that clichés are the phrases that have struck our eardrums uncountable times, we either don’t associate them with particular ideas and products, or we associate many products and ideas with a particular cliché. 

The fact that clichés are so generic you can attach them to any idea makes them ineffective. (6)

This actually has a lot to do with how we take in words and phrases when we read. The more familiar a term or phrase becomes, the more often we start skipping over it as we read, rendering it ineffective.

 

The best way to avoid this problem is to use different language to explain familiar concepts.It’s a careful balancing act between being so different that your readers are turned off by the effort of understanding your content and being so familiar that your work becomes trite.

In other words, your audience has to feel your content is new, but also credible. (7)

 

3. Don’t make it sound like writing, instead “Write like you speak”

 

It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style. — P.D. James

Novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard knew how important the reader was. More important than his English Composition teachers, that’s for sure. He never let “proper” writing get in the way of telling a great story and making it engaging for the reader.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. — Elmore Leonard

Writing like you speak is harder than it might sound. For some reason, it’s easy to “put on” a tone when you start writing, without even realising it. This is something I’m still working on, and it takes a lot of practice.

 

In Kurt Vonnegut’s list of rules for writing with style, he explains how much better his writing is when it sounds the way he talks:

I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am.

One thing that’s really helped me to improve in this area is a trick that Leo taught me:imagine someone sitting in front of you as you type, and write as if you’re talking to them.

Continue reading # 4-6 here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/6-of-the-best-pieces-of-a_b_4628690.html

An Outline Makes Business Writing a Snap

An Outline Makes Business Writing a Snap

by: Fred holt

There are several ways to simplify the writing process. One of the quickest and most easily adaptable ways is to create and follow a simple outline for all of your business writing.

While you don’t need a detailed, four-page outline that encompasses every point you want to make or every theory you purport, a simple outline can assist you in organizing your thoughts, narrowing your topic, helping you decide exactly what you want to say, and ensuring that you cover every important aspect of your subject.

An outline also helps you jump over the writer’s block hurdle that plagues nearly every writer at one time or another.

Organize Your Thoughts

Before you even begin to write, spend some time brainstorming. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen, or a blank computer screen and a keyboard, and write down everything you can think of that relates to your topic. Include ideas that are only slightly relevant, ideas that you may eventually discard, but don’t filter your thoughts at this point. Spend about 10-15 minutes writing down EVERYTHING you can think of about this subject.

When you’re finished, go back over what you’ve written and eliminate duplicate thoughts, unnecessary or irrelevant ideas, or anything else you don’t want to include.

Now you have a fairly thorough list of the general ideas you want to discuss.

Narrow Your Topic

Next, look at your ideas more closely. Do you really want to cover every one of them? Are some of these topics better left unsaid or some such common knowledge that you don’t need to mention them? Only you can decide what’s important, but focus on what you really want to say. Ask yourself some questions, such as:

• Who am I trying to reach with this writing?

• What do I want my readers to understand?

• Are each of these ideas necessary to my central theme?

• Have I left anything out?

Decide Exactly What You Want to Say

Once you have each general topic area defined, it’s time to think about each area in more detail. Decide what makes each thing you’ve written down important. Determine what it is that you want your readers to understand about each specific idea. Write your first draft at this point, being careful to fill in every detail you can. It’s much easier to edit and cut extraneous material than to try to go back and fill it in later.

Cover Every Important Aspect of Your Subject

After you’ve written your first draft, you’ll want to go back and evaluate every sentence, and every paragraph. Have you covered every important aspect of your subject? Should you expand an idea more fully? Can you rewrite a sentence or a paragraph to make it read more clearly or professionally? Now is the time to do your best work. Ensure that your subject is covered fully and completely and that you have said exactly what you intended to say.

Consider Hiring a Professional

Most small business owners and entrepreneurs must wear many, if not all, of the hats in the company. While it’s easy to recognize the importance of your business communications, it’s also easy to allow them to crucial documents to exit your office without full consideration for their impact on your bottom line.

Consider this… if you don’t communicate clearly and effectively with your clients and prospects, you’ll lose their attention — and their business!

That’s why, if your business writing skills are less than professional, you should seriously consider hiring a professional writer and/or editor to assist you.

Often, the first thing your audience sees is your written communication, and if you fail there, you’ll never get the chance to show them what great products and astounding customer service you can provide!

About The Author

Fred Holt, M.A. (English) from University of New Jersey, specialized in teaching content writing, business, and technical communication. He is skilled in MLA, APA, and Chicago manuals of style. His work included writing, editing and proofreading Seo writing and write articles. He has also written many other documents, including resumes, application letters, bibliographies and also buy articles service.

http://www.contentproz.net/buy-articles/