Writing is both exciting and frustrating. It’s a skill that requires discipline and patience if you ever want to excel at it. For those who are serious about developing their craft, it can even be a promising career path.
Throughout the years, many professionals have adapted to different forms of media. Traditional publishing is still alive, but writers today also have to know how to work on digital platforms. In fact, writing is one of the essential skills that a content marketer should have.
So if you want to survive the life of a writer, here are seven tips to consider:
1. Develop a Habit of Writing
Make it a point to write at least 30 minutes every day. The idea is to repeat the practice until it becomes a regular part of your routine. Then, set a small goal for each time you write. Motivation is important in developing a habit.
Much like any skill, writing requires practice. If you want to be a writer, you have to establish it in your system. But this doesn’t mean you have to write a lot, you just have to write often.
2. Create Catchy Headlines
According to Copyblogger, eight out of ten people read the headlines, but only two of them would most likely read the entire article. Other studies also indicate that 50 percent of a blog’s effectiveness lies on the headline. This is why it needs to spark interest, or else your audience won’t bother reading the rest.
Creating catchy headlines involves being specific with numbers so that readers can immediately organize their thoughts in a logical order. Provide a unique take on certain topics that offer reasons, tips, or ways to approach the subject. Call for attention by showing the article’s usefulness and urgency so that your audience would feel like they’re going to waste their time.
3. Never Neglect Research
When you have nothing to say, it’s hard to produce content. Writing becomes tedious and you end up creating nothing substantial or coherent. In order to fill any knowledge gap, never neglect research.
Writers always have to read widely. Expand your knowledge by researching topics you’re writing about. Look for credible sources and cite them in your article to establish your credibility.
4. Balance Simple Words & Jargons
Language is crucial to be an effective writer. This is why you need to find a balance between using jargon and simple words. The best way to know when to use them is by knowing your audience first.
Writing to educate a general audience requires simple language. Most readers who are looking for these types of content just want to understand the topic easily. But when you are writing for a specific audience with your knowledge of the field, it’s better to incorporate jargon. Doing so also establishes credibility and authority in your writing.
5. Keep Sentences & Paragraphs Short
The length of your sentences and paragraphs can either intrigue or turn-off your readers. Keeping them shorter diminishes the chances of intimidating them with large walls-of-texts.
For sentences, it’s better to shorten them so you won’t lose your reader. A long sentence can get dragging and cause you to forget what it’s all about. It should relay a thought and aid the readers in the reading process.
Shortening paragraphs, on the other hand, can be tricky. Blogs and articles that consecutively use one-sentence paragraphs can lose the message they’re trying to communicate. So a general rule is to keep paragraphs two to four sentences long. Vary the lengths of your paragraphs as you write while still making sure that each one captures a single idea.
By writing short sentences and paragraphs, you allow readers enough information that they can understand.
6. Focus on the Main Topic
For writers, it’s easy to get lost in the process and start rambling. Research might overwhelm you and the more information you absorb the harder it is to stay on track. So focus on the main topic of your write-up.
To do this, identify the key points of your content. This means clarifying the message you’d want to communicate before writing. Structure your article in a way that it’s easier to skim through by incorporating sections, lists, and bullet points. This way your subtopics are easily identifiable without straying away from the main point.
Providing extra snippets of trivia or insights are fine. But always bring back the reader to the primary point, which is why they read the article in the first place.
7. Never Forget to Edit
Editing can be grueling for some writers, but it is crucial if you want to publish anything effective.
The first thing to know about editing is that you should only do it after you’ve written everything. On your first draft, there’s no need to think too hard about it. If you keep editing during the early stages, you’ll end up debilitated with a bad case of writer’s block.
After writing your first draft, go through it and identify the parts that need improvement. Rewrite anything that doesn’t add value to your sentence. Shorten passages if you think you can write it in a more concise manner. Also, only add more if it’s necessary.
Editing demands time and attention. The structure and coherence of your writing gradually improve after one or two editing sessions.
Bonus Tip: Take a Break
To survive as a writer, it’s important to learn when to stop writing. Take a break and find time to do other things you enjoy. This could be reading a book, going out with friends, or travel.
Young writers get burned out because they think they have to write constantly. But there’s no harm in resting for a day or two. Editing also requires you to step back from writing so that you can have a fresh look at the first draft. The point is, you need to ease your mind at some point to be more productive.
Writing is Simple, But Never Easy
The most important thing to know about writing is that it’s simple but never easy. It’s difficult because it’s mentally and emotionally draining. Other tasks may also seem more urgent and, at some point, we would have doubts about our own capabilities while writing.
No one can be a perfect writer, and thankfully, people don’t expect you to be one. So if you’re just starting out, keep these tips in mind to survive not just the writing but the everyday struggle of a writer. Just remember to take one step at a time. Writing a sentence is already one small step forward to finish your goal.