By Laura Tong
Source: Write to Done
Editor Note: By popular demand we’ve updated and expanded one of Mary’s most popular posts from the WritetoDone archives so today’s readers can benefit from these wonderful tips.
Do you wonder how to be a writer?
The 201 tips below will help you find out how to be the writer you were born to become.
There are many barriers that can stop you from being a writer.
Maybe you haven’t yet got the right mindset, or you need to establish good writing habits. Or maybe you need to focus on professional development, or on boosting your creativity.
I have to admit that it took me a long time to think of myself as a writer. Even when I was already a published author, I didn’t consider myself a REAL writer.
Then, one day, I found a simple saying that helped me realize that I was already a writer. The saying goes:
A writer writes.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
When doubts about being a writer started creeping in, I would say to myself, “A writer writes!”
That brought me back on track.
Talking of track, the following collection of tips for writers by WTD readers are designed to help you move forward on your journey as a writer. They will help you realize that you are already a writer.
The tips are organized into different sections:
- How to create a successful mindset.
- How to develop your craft of writing.
- How to establish good writing habits.
- How to approach professional development.
- How to become a better writer.
- How to become more creative.
The first set of tips are about the mindset that can help you be a writer:
How to Develop a Successful Mindset
- Be open, curious, present, and engaged.
- Accept all forms of criticism and learn to grow from it.
- Live with passion.
- Say to everyone: “I’m a writer.”
- Recognize your fear and overcome it.
- Rethink what is ‘normal’.
- Check if your assumptions are right.
- Accept no excuses.
- Break out of your comfort zone.
- Approach writing with gratitude, not just with a ‘must do this’ attitude.
- Take risks – don’t be afraid to shock. You are not who you think you are.
- Always think of your readers.
- Learn to LOVE writing and reading.
- Write like you’re on your first date.
- Simply let things be what they are.
- Expose yourself to as many new experiences in a short amount of time as possible.
- Love your tools. As St. Bumpersticker says, “My fountain pen can write better than your honor student!”
- Embrace your shadow. Discover what traits and characteristics you don’t want to express.
- Write to agitate the mind and the nerves.
- Remember: if you’re not sure, you don’t know.
- Know when to walk away – and when to come back.
- Believe that you’re a writer.
- Destroy something regularly. Picasso said “Every act of creation is first of all an action of destruction.”
- Never take a mundane experience for granted.
- Keep fit. A fit body supports creativity.
- Be Yourself. No need to get inspired by someone else.
- Never Give up.
How to Develop the Craft of Writing
We sometimes think of writing as an art, but it is more helpful to think of it as a craft. Here are tips that can help you develop the craft of writing:
- Use simple, declarative sentences.
- Avoid passive voice.
- Limit your use of adjectives and adverbs.
- Keep it simple.
- Cut the crap.
- Don’t overwrite.
- Go easy on descriptive narrative (settings, people, etc.).
- Re-examine every word that’s three syllables or longer and see whether it could be replaced by a simpler word.
- If you have a sense of where you want your piece to wind up, start there instead and see what happens.
- Avoid these three weak words – unless absolutely necessary: Ifs, Buts, and Can’ts.
- Never rescue your hero.
- Practice monotasking. Set a timer for uninterrupted writing.
- Work on brilliant headlines.
- Start with metaphors and stories.
- Write the opening sentence or headline last.
- Write solely from the heart and shun copying others.
- Think before you include an expletive.
- Ask, “Can it be turned into a list?” Think of at least five things you can list about it.
- Use the mini-skirt rule: Make it long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep it interesting.
- Write in small paragraphs in order to get to the point immediately.
- Visualize the person you are communicating with: What do their eyes reflect as they read this? What will the first thing they might say in response?
- Do what works for you.
- Always call a spade a spade. It’s never a long-handled gardening implement!
- Try writing without accuracy. Not worrying about errors (left brain) allows for easier flow of thought (right brain).