This post is for all you bloggies out there. For all of you that push yourself every day (or every other day…whatever your style) to read, then think, then write a cohesive, interesting, and thought provoking article in order to educate those around you and improve your writing skills. Good for you.
As most bloggers know, how you write is just as important as what you write about. A boring topic written by a great author can turn out to be fascinating. Therefore, it is vitally important to improve your writing skills as often as possible.
For me, my journey into the blogosphere began when my husband, (then fiancé) decided we should start a blog together about personal finance (PF). PF is a passion of his, so this made a lot of sense to me. I thought that it would be no big deal because, “Hey, I’m pretty frugal and I like to write.”
I jumped in without much thought. This was to be my first lesson.
Lesson # 1: Think through everything.
Shortly after agreeing to start writing articles I found out that it’s not easy. Blogging is hard work and my writing needs editing. Contrary to what I previously believed, my thought processes are not always concise or complete (as proven by some of my very first published articles. Yikes!)
I had to learn pretty quickly that before writing an article I needed to determine what it was going to say and whether or not I had enough information to develop an entire article or not. I have a pile of scrap paper filled with ideas for articles that didn’t pan out, and that’s ok. It’s part of the writing process.
The most important part of writing an article is to know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it before you start typing. This might be as simple as creating an outline or as complicated as writing everything you know about the topic and then weeding out the unnecessary information and organizing the remaining information in a cohesive manner. Some articles are easier than others, and your technique may vary depending on the topic.
Lesson # 2: Make sure your article has a beginning, middle, and an end.
When I was a little girl, I loved to put on shows for my parents. I would get my brother, cousins, and friends involved and we’d put on a production, dress up clothes and all. These productions were apparently less enthralling than advertised and rarely had a final act. The shows would go on and on without an end in sight until either my mom or dad told me to wrap it up.
Pretty soon my parents wised up.
Before accepting my invitation to the show happening on center stage in the living room, they asked a very important question.
“Does it have a beginning, a middle, and most importantly an end?”
“Of course it does!” I would shout, and the show would commence. Unbeknownst to my parents, through their demand for a conclusion, they taught me a very important aspect about the creative process. The story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
So now that I’m all grown up and writing all the time, I remember and implement this basic, yet vital technique to make sure every article I write has a streamlined story from” Once Upon a Time” through “The End.” If you follow lesson #1, then you should have a pretty good idea what you’re going to write. Just be sure to make your point and cushion it between an enticing beginning and a satisfying end.
Lesson #3: Edit your work.
Like I said before. My first draft is never flawless. In fact, by the time I’m ready to publish an article, there are still most likely areas that need to be cleaned up or clarified. Fortunately for me, I have Jacob to edit my articles, and he has me. Since there are two of us who write on the CCC, it makes editing easy because we can keep tabs on what the other one is writing and we can be honest about the content and structure of our work.
I would suggest locating a trusted editor who will read over your work looking for content clarity and grammar accuracy. Of course, you can edit your own work by leaving it alone and coming back to it later, but if you’ve got a spouse, friend, teacher, or kid who can read your work, you’ll be surprised by the insight another set of eyes will have. Jacob and I agree that having each other as an editor has pushed us to be better writers.
Lesson #4: Got writers block? …Push Through It.
Sometimes I simply don’t feel like writing. I stare at the title of my article and try to block out that annoying blinking cursor. Am I the only one that hates that little guy? I mean, he just keeps blinking over and over. It’s almost like he’s saying, “ …….and your point is?…..”
The fact is, when the words aren’t flowing and ideas are jammed, it’s pretty tough to get out of the mental block. Everyone has their own method for eliminating writers block, but I find that my best method is to just push through it.
Normally when I push through an article, I end up hating it. But instead of deleting it, I save it, close my computer for the night and come back the next day. Most of the time it isn’t as terrible as I thought it was when I was writing it.
I’m quite fond of those times when writing inspiration kicks in and I go into a writing craze, but I’ve yet to figure out where that inspiration comes from or how to regenerate it. My best advice is just to push through it and see what happens.
Another technique to breaking the curse of the blinking cursor is to write every day. I admittedly am not great at doing this, but I know that the more frequently I write, the better the quality of my work and the more easily the words flow.
These are some techniques I’ve adopted on my way to becoming a better writer. But what about you? What techniques have you picked up that you used to improve your writing skills? We’d love to hear what you’ve learned!