6 lessons that have changed the way I write
I’ve had my hands in a lot of people’s words over the past 15-ish years of my professional career.
Since I’ve written in many different capacities and taken on countless different writing voices, I’ve learned a few things that might help with your writing.
Whether you’re just starting your blog, building your website and growing your online presence or you’ve been at this writing thing a while now, chances are, you’re constantly changing and evolving.
Here are some truths that changed the way I write:
1. Write in the cracks.
Gleaned from Julia Cameron’s, The Right to Write, I’m guessing she came up with this nugget with kids running around. With kids on summer vacation, my writing sometimes happens in 15-minute crazed spurts. As much as I’d both love (and honestly, be a little intimidated by) an utterly distraction-free 4-hour writing block, life just doesn’t work that way for most people. Squeeze it in. Write a shitty first draft. Edit later.
2. Interruptions are course corrections.
This comes out of the crack advice above. Even working from home there’s no shortage of rude interruptions—dog barking at the mail lady, cat killing a bird outside my window, phone calls from school, I could go on. Usually, these interruptions happen when I’m in the middle of a sentence or thought. Instead of getting pissed off (though that sometimes happens too), look at it as an opportunity to see your writing with a fresh perspective and take it in a different direction. It also feels a whole lot better to get excited about interruptions than annoyed.
3. Use contractions (they're, I'll, can't, don't)
I’m pretty sure my copy coaching clients want to throw their computer at me every time I remind them to use contractions. If you’ve been writing academically or in a formal corporate environment for a long time, then this habit will take a while to get used to. Using contractions in your writing, especially when writing online helps your tone come across as more friendly and conversational. Sounding human is good business. You can assert your authority on a topic without sounding formal.
4. Write drunk. Edit Sober.
Okay, so this isn’t really my advice, nor am I condoning getting lit just to get the words out. What a glass of wine, gin and tonic, or vodka and zevia (try it!) helps you do is chill out at the page. Your overly perfectionist mind may want to edit as you go along or scrap entire paragraphs. The drunk mind gives no shits. This also means you should edit at a time away from your writing. If you wrote a margarita-fueled sales page last night, revisit in the morning, with water, and not another margarita.
5. Choose simplicity over sounding smart.
Skip the wit and inside jokes and instead just say what you mean. Say it in as few simple words as possible. This is not dumbing your message down; it’s doing your reader a favor by helping them to think less about your message. Your readers have been working their brains hard all day, give them a break by spending the extra time to make sure your message is clear and straightforward.
6. Write with heart and ignore the rules (sometimes).
Sometimes the message jumps off the page and punches the reader in the gut better when the grammar is all wrong. Do what feels right. More often than not, I follow intuition over the grammar police.
There are many more—these are the biggies. I’m learning and changing the way I write constantly. Also, I break all my “rules” from time to time because that’s what rules are for.
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