One of my personal development goals for 2015 was to write more often and to find a way to write professionally. Previously, I had always been intimidated by excellent writers and, by comparing my writing to work of that caliber, I usually developed writer’s block.
Don’t get me wrong – as someone who has worked in marketing communications since 2006, I’m used to creating content, editing/proofreading, fine-tuning content for SEO and running content calendars. Since the beginning of my career, I have always been involved in the communications process and have developed strong writing skills to help me succeed. But in 2015, I made it a goal to really mean it when I call myself a ghost writer.
Writing isn’t easy. Here are some tips that helped me get started:
- Create a habit by writing regularly. William Faulkner once said: “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”
- Create a writing process. Identifying the ways that lead to your best writing will save you a lot of frustration. I like to start the writing process by identifying a topic, researching some possible ideas, creating an outline of the post/article, writing out my ideas, editing, re-editing, having a third party review my work, and finally publishing.
- Brainstorm your ideas before writing. An outline has been a key ingredient to my writing process; it allows me to think through the high level points so that a blank white page, when filled with separate thoughts, more easily turns into a cohesive piece.
- Find a topic that interests you. Are you a fashionista? Health guru? Passionate about animals? Writing about something that interests you allows you to use your habit building “writing time” to explore your interests. Once you get used to writing, it will be easier to take on topics where research is involved and where the subject may not necessarily be a passion of yours.
- Get inspiration from other writers. Often the most difficult part of writing is determining what to write about. By reading the daily news, visiting your favourite websites or simply doing a Google search, you can find topics of inspiration.
- Find your zen writing place. Write in a location where you not only feel comfortable but also inspired. I have found it very difficult to write in an office setting as my social nature distracts me from the concentration required. Yet, writing at a coffeeshop or in my dining room has led to an easy flow of thoughts to paper.
- Write first. Edit second. Part of the reason I used to get writer’s block was my need to perfect every word and every sentence as I tackled a piece. For some writers this process may work well, but I’ve found it easier to simply write and worry about editing later. This has allowed me to put my thoughts to paper – something that’s often half the battle.
- Meditate before writing. Part of the writing process is to clear your mind of distracting thoughts so that you can concentrate on the topic in question. Meditation has been shown to help clear one’s mind. Read more about the effects of meditation.
- Read other writers. Good writers are often prolific readers who have come to identify what style of writing and ‘voice’ appeals to various audiences. If you come across interesting turns of phrase or, conversely, find writing tricks that annoy you as a reader, keep mental notes to draw on as you write.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Write and read often – you’ll see your writing improve. Concentrating on how well others write negates the creative process and turns writing into work.