Not long ago one of our favourite people sent Dan a note asking for writing advice. It got us thinking because, frankly, all writers struggle from time to time.
I feel like my writing is becoming predictable and uninspired! I’m sick of my inner writing monologue (it’s becoming so corporate!). I was wondering if you knew of any courses or activities I could do to keep pushing my writing along. I don’t intend or pretend to ever be a Tolkien, or a Fitzgerald, but I think I could still get better. It’s been an age since I have done anything for my writing, so I’m just not sure what’s good anymore!
Can you relate? I certainly could.
Dan, Wendy and I rely on each other for help when we can’t find the oomph we need, but every writer – us included – benefits from additional attention to the old writing muscle from time to time. Here are things you can do if your writing skills are taking you in a direction you don’t like.
A writing prompt is like having a mini assignment on a totally random topic. Writer’s Digest has a lot of great prompts to get you started.
Tip: Use the Writer’s Digest pop-up form to have a writing prompt delivered to your inbox every day. Give yourself 10 minutes a day to answer the prompt.
I’ve always loved going to writing lectures, especially if it’s someone I admire. MasterClass has 21 lectures by famous writers on a variety of disciplines. I have my eye on the one by David Sedaris who is one of my favourite authors. It’s a good investment in personal development.
Tip: You have to take out an annual subscription, but you have access to all the MasterClass courses across 10 categories. It’s a great deal.
LinkedIn offers many courses on writing for beginning, intermediate and advanced skills. If you’re a LinkedIn Premium member, the courses are free.
Tip: Look for your area of weakness. LinkedIn courses go deep on granularity so you may find exactly what you need.
If you’re mostly writing for business, take a turn at creative writing. Write a short story to entertain yourself. Write a children’s book. (Dan has one coming out any day now! Keep an eye on future editions of The Write Fit to find out all about it.) Try poetry or song lyrics. If you’re short on time, try a haiku.
Tip: Writing in a different format will fortify your creativity and help to put a fresh spin on all your writing. Even 10 minutes a day of working on a completely different kind of content helps.
I’m not kidding. You can join something like NaNoWriMo and spend the month of November writing a novel, or take a bit longer and challenge yourself to write a book in a year. The point is not to write something great but to learn to write a book from start to finish.
Tip: Joe Pulizzi, bestselling author and founder of the Content Marketing Institute and The Tilt, advises wannabe authors to write 2000 words a week. It’s how he does it – by the end of a year, you’ll have a book.
Writing retreats come in all flavours and are held all over the world – and online. Immersing yourself in writing for a few days, or longer, is a great way to put a new spin on your old writing habit.
Tip: Google “writing retreat 2022” and find a session near you – or maybe go further afield and make a holiday of it.
I felt the most creative and productive when I was attending a weekly writing group. My favourite group started with a 20-minute free-writing exercise to limber us up and ended with a 20-minute writing prompt. In the middle, we reviewed and critiqued each other’s work.
Tip: All writing groups are different so if you’re not gelling with the first group, try another or form your own.
Dan finds reading the classics, like A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, immediately improves his writing. (Hemingway is a great teacher for dialogue and brevity.) Pay attention not only to the story but to the way other writers craft their sentences, and take note of their writing technique.
Tip: If you don’t have time to read, listening to audiobooks is incredibly time efficient and you can do it while you’re walking the pooch or cooking dinner.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, get a copy of Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes. It’s inspiring. And read her Total ANNARCHY newsletter. No-one we know makes business writing so enjoyable to read. She’s generous with her advice, too.
Tip: Focus on one chapter or tip a week and apply it to your own writing. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself.
Like writing retreats, writing festivals allow you to engross yourself in writing. The big difference is festivals usually have multiple sessions or streams and you can dip in and out as you like.
Tip: Google “writing festivals 2022” to find one in your neighbourhood.
My overarching advice is to pick one of these suggestions and get started. Don’t try to do them all or you’ll be overwhelmed. If something sounds fun or enjoyable, start there.
Think of your writing skill as a muscle that needs consistent attention and benefits from a variety of exercises. In truth, dedicating even 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your results.
If you have a question you’d like us to address in a future edition of The Write Fit, reply to this email and let us know. We always love to hear from you and we’re here to help!
30 March 2022
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