This post supplements the “fitness” tips posted last Friday.
Last week’s post provided some insights on becoming a “fit” writer. But there’s more to be said on the subject.
Becoming a successful writer is akin to starting a business in many respects. Most importantly, it is important to define your writing goals and then set up a schedule to achieve them. These goals should be frequently reviewed, preferably every week, to be sure you’re still on track. This discipline will help you achieve the mental toughness which is so necessary to success in any endeavor. These goals should include development of confidence in your writing, which is of primary importance to your writing success. Other goals should include mastery of clear writing fundamentals such as organization of your thoughts, knowing your reading audience, and knowing your subject matter.
Here are some important tips to follow to achieve your goals:
1. Prepare a schedule, hang it up, and review it every day.
2. Eliminate distractions. Tune out:
– Social media – use Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin only once a day, not all day, unless for business.
-Limit family interruptions to the extent possible. Family considerations are always important in any endeavor, but so is your personal advancement. You must create time for yourself to take care of business without family interruptions.
– Telephone calls – business calls only during your work time. No social calls.
3. An additional goal must include development of writing techniques. Allow time to study other people’s writing, even if it’s only for an hour. This is an important learning step to help develop vocabulary, learn grammar by observing word association, and observe writing style and word usage of experienced writers.
4. Most importantly, write every day. Write something, even if it’s only an entry in your diary or a memo about a project to be undertaken. Dedicate a set amount of time every day to writing. This time is your private “workout,” and the goal is to sharpen your writing skills, the same as you would work out to sharpen your golf or tennis game. Even if you don’t believe you have any talent for writing, deliberate practice is the key to develop your writing ability, such as it may be, into a skill.
5. My new eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” now available on Kindle, contains many tried and tested approaches to writing improvement, including development of confidence in your writing and organization of your thoughts before you write a word. It is important to prepare a preliminary plan of what you’re going to write, including a detailed outline, for any major writing project. Also, importantly, you must know who you’re going to write for, your reading audience and, of course, you must know your subject matter.
Here is a brief excerpt from Chapter 3:
“Well organized writing begins with well thought out preparation. Therefore, reaching your ultimate goal to write clearly begins with a well thought out preliminary plan followed by a detailed outline. This is the foundation for your writing. If this foundation is weak, your final document will suffer.
A good outline, the outgrowth of your preliminary plan, is akin to the blueprint for a building. No self-respecting architect would build anything without a blueprint; likewise, every successful sports coach prepares a game plan, every general a battle plan. So, preparation of a preliminary plan comes first.
The preliminary plan should be a concise summary of what you intend to write. This plan is essential to clear writing, which cannot be achieved unless you know what is in your own mind.”
Fundamental writing guidelines and techniques are covered in detail in this eBook. It is available for purchase on Amazon’s Kindle Store at the modest price of $9.99, but you can preview a sample, including the Table of Contents, without charge.
6. Get ideas about what to write about from what AWAI calls your “Swipe file.” AWAI (American Writers and Artists, Inc.) is a copywriting group to which I belong. This file should contain copies of advertisements, articles, letters, etc. Add to the file frequently. Refer to it to give you ideas for writing projects and to help you in your efforts to better your writing skills.
7. Remember, persistence and determination are omnipotent.
8. One last thought. If you don’t write something to express yourself, the world will be a poorer place. It is the act of expression which makes a difference. Expression influences others, and the clearer you write the greater your influence will be. You may well have something to say which will make a huge difference to someone, only you have to say it first. It may only be the germ of an idea but, in this economy, even a germ of an idea can become a gem. And, speaking of the economy, the ability to write clearly will boost your chances to get a job or to advance in your job. If you run a business, having your employees write more clearly will improve business dramatically.
My article, “Antietam and Gettysburg – Two Pivotal Civil War Battles That Saved The Union,” is also available in the Kindle Store.
The next post will be on Friday, August 3, 2012.
Copyright © 2012. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.