I was recently invited to create a post on the craft of writing for The Ladders, an online company which networks with potential jobseekers.As a comprehensive career resource, they take pride in being able to assist any demographic with their job search no matter the field.
As we all know, every writer has his/her own methods of writing which they are most familiar and comfortable with, but the elements involved for good writing, remain a standard.
Writing styles differ amongst all writers. The reasons we write can be for personal or business. Some write blogs, some are freelance writers, and others are published authors. Regardless of our preferences, we have to develop good content and a voice. But how do we get to that point?
We get there by dedicating ourselves to the craft. If we intend to share and showcase our work, we should be writing daily to hone our craft.
I seem to be the type of writer who writes on her blog, and is working on two books at one time. When I’m working in revisions I like to do creative writing exercises. My favorite book to use for writing prompts is Old Friend From Far Away, by Natalie Goldberg. Writing exercises are particularly good for breaking writer’s block. By committing to our writing, we should set goals either by setting daily word counts or by time allotment.
It should go without saying that to be good writers, we should be avid readers. Reading also gives us a sense of the writer’s voice. As good writers, we eventually find our own voice — how our words are projected on paper to the reader’s eyes and ears. Why do we gravitate to our favorite authors? Because we enjoy their writing style, the manner in which they tell their stories. If we wrote books and changed the style of narration in each one of them, people aren’t likely to gain a familiar feel for the author’s work collectively.
To simplify this, if each book written by a particular author in same genre read as though it were being told by someone other than that author, the reader may enjoy one of their books but may not go past reading another if they find that the reason they followed that author’s writing keeps changing with every book. Exception would be if the author wrote in more than one genre. But many authors tend to write in one genre.
Blogging is a wonderful avenue for writers because it helps to establish our presence in the writing world, and to connect with other writers and readers. We have so much to learn from other writers whether from reading their work, following links from their posts, or by getting introduced to new writers. There is so much ongoing information about the writing world we can obtain from others.
Many people who wish to blog sometimes wonder what they should blog about. But the universe is our oyster when it comes to topics. We can start our writing about random things until we actually find our niche. Eventually, after becoming a faithful blogger who posts regularly, we will find our own topics of interest through our own writing and we will notice by our growing followers who our writing becomes geared towards. This is how we begin to find our audience.
Some of the best advice we hear from seasoned writers is “Write what you know.” If we want to become a good writer, we have to write about things that interest us, and have value in sharing. Write about the things we ourselves like to read. Eventually, we acquire like-minded readers to our blogs and our books. Be authentic. Engage in our reader’s questions and comments, for without their eyes on our work, who would we be writing for? But remember, we will never be able to please everyone, not all writing appeals to everyone. And that’s okay, the people who share our interest will slowly become our tribe of readers.
I’ve had many discussions with other writers comparing our writing preferences. Some like to write in longhand, and some prefer creating at the keyboard. It doesn’t matter, either way we prefer, as long as we write.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Some are a little of both, like myself. Although I’m mostly a pantser, I still use my own structured system. I outline my story’s theme, chapters, and points I want to cover when writing a book or an article. I then let the story begin to flow from my pen. Yes, I said pen. I prefer writing longhand. I find my pen follows my thoughts very quickly, whereas, if I click a wrong key on the board, it hinders my train of thought because I can’t stop myself from correcting. And a good writer should never go back and stop to edit until the first draft is complete. Remember the words of Hemingway, ” The first draft is shit.” Besides that, I don’t feel creative in front of the computer. Spiral notepads and ballpoint pens are my tools of the trade.
While I’m on the subject of revisions, I’d like to defend my thoughts about writing in longhand. In some discussions about my preference, I’ve been asked, “Isn’t that twice the work to have to write on paper and then have to enter the work into the computer?” I actually find this process very helpful. It becomes a part of first round revisions. By entering my draft into the computer, it automatically goes through the first round as I’m entering. It gives me a chance to reread my thoughts as I am translating them and fixing up an initially crappy draft. It really is a matter of preference and a matter of comfort which manner we choose to write in.
When revising, it’s always good practice to print out a copy and read our work on paper, after a few prior rounds, and particularly for the last round of revisions. It’s surprising to find errors missed when reading on the screen. The human eye tends to miss common errors on the computer screen. The more polished our work is before it goes to the editor, the less it will cost.
In summation, I’d like to include some helpful tips for writing:
– Journaling will give us a lot of thoughts to look back on and write about.
– Blogging is also great writing exercise, and gives us a chance to find our captive
– Write something everyday.
– Work on developing your voice.
– Don’t stop and revise along the way of creating.
– Join writing groups and/or online writing forums.
– Subscribe to newsletters and publications of influencers in the industry.
– Become a part of social media to establish a presence, by connecting with other
writers, groups, and readers.
Keep feeding your passion for writing. There is always something new to learn.
D.G. Kaye. ©2015 http://www.dgkayewriter.com