So, maybe you’re not composing the next Great American Novel any time soon. But, that doesn’t mean your writing should be sub par. Here are some tips to become a more adept writer.
1. Free write.
To write, begin writing. Seems self-explanatory, but too often do our personal hang ups get in the way before we even get to the part about dangling participles. Whatever can be penned, jotted or scribbled, do it: a to-do list, an observation on the El, which superpower could best Putin or a profound look inwards as to why you’re having such a tough time in the first place. Let the ink flow, jumpstart the mind and don’t keep the blinking cursor waiting.
2. Write all the things.
In the early stages, don’t expect perfection. It comes around even less than a blue moon anyway. But, do be sure to get all your thoughts down. At times I struggle to find le mot juste which, in turn, becomes an obstacle too large to overcome. The feeling of having accomplished the task, however, is exponentially sweeter. You can always return later (over a few gins, perhaps) and consider your work more shrewdly.
3. Write in threes.
I find that whether attempting to construct an argument, explore a point of view or plot a story, stripping the narrative down to its most base elements helps to better steer the thoughts. Try it. Summarize your aims in three word bursts:
Boy watches sheep. Pranks the villagers.
Cries out ‘Wolf’! Boy annoys villagers.
Real wolf appears. No one cares. Boy is lunch.
This is a sure way to write in a manner clear and coherent for your audience.
4. Write the opposite.
When people play Devil’s advocate, it works pretty well in strengthening the argument they actually subscribe to. If I want to try to convince you of how much you need a product in your life, I might first instead counter with reasons you don’t. The point can then be considered laterally while offering up fresh perspective to the resolution.
5. Screw it.
But, if you’re really and truly stuck, it does little good to stay on the subject. Maybe there’s laundry that needs washing or a TV series wrapping up. Start something else or you will come to hate everything about the whole affair—the topic itself, the roughness of the typeface or hell, the way the screen smells.
After a time, return to it and what was before insurmountable suddenly seems less daunting.
If you’ve gotten this far, I thank you and you’re welcome. I hear so frequently that I take it to be a universal truth but most people do not associate writing with reading. Yet, the one is diluted without the other. Everything about us is a compilation of external influencers (environment, community, media), so why shouldn’t your writing?
Read. Read everything you can. You can enjoy it or not, but always ask what is it about this piece that ticks? What juicy bits are there that I can use and perhaps reincorporate?
Armed with this, even the most mediocre subject matter earns a new context.