How to write something that doesn't f***ing suck...
I'm not the best person to write about writing. I can't deny it. You see the fact of the matter is that I have always disliked my own writing.
I was hardly ever at school, and when I was I hardly listened. I didn't know what an onomatopoeia was until I was already a Man. Sometimes I'm still not sure that I do today.
Yet for some reason I've managed to do a little more than okay with writing. Some people even claim to love reading my articles. Strange I know. I've sold an eBook, built an audience, and sold around six figures worth of product through writing.
This isn't to brag, but when I often come back to thinking about it - pretty much all the food in my belly is because of writing. I can't help but see it that way. Marketing gets them there, a website keeps them there, and the writing sells them there. You either agree or you don't, but that's my ethos.
It's only in the last few years, since I started this blog, that I started working on my writing with purpose. I tend to find myself drawn to things I'm not very good at in life. This is especially true if I see it as an art of some kind... What is the magic word after all, if not the right word at the right time at the right place. Like I say, it's art. The art of the magic words...
So why even write the article?
I like writing.
I also think someone out there would like to read it, they might even find something useful. Which seems good enough to me!
If you know much about writing you might recall the idea of the Intended Reader, which works just fine... But I like to think of it as the Intended Receiver. It's applicable to everything, which works well with marketing in mind. It always puts the emphasis on others no matter what you’re doing. It's when you start with 'you' in mind that you end up losing at whatever it is you're doing. Including writing of course.
Sometimes you're going to make people angry, that's something to encourage. If you don't you're not doing it right. If you can’t make someone care enough to feel something your writing is going nowhere. Factomundo.
It's also worth saying that you don't have to think you're a good writer. Haven't I already told you that I'm not proud of my own writing ability? A lack of confidence is not a good reason to not do something. Trust me on that.
Writing ability isn't the be all end all, the story you are telling is. No amount of writing ability will help you if your story is a stinkin' pile o' dung. The content has to be good, or why are you doing it in the first place?
If you have something to say, and that thing is remotely interesting or worth listening to for your Intended Receiver - you'll go far with a handful of best-practices. Most writers are a mess of bad habits of the worst kind. No - it’s not grammar or punctuation.
One bad habit to break? Not letting your writing breathe. Don't write something and put it out the same day. If you're in that bad habit you can improve right now by remembering to get up and walk away. Let the damned writing breathe, and come back the following day - or better yet even later. Screw the deadline.
Another tip for you... Read more and write less. If you're the kind of person who already writes a lot, you should stop writing as much and read a little more. Or vice versa. If you don't do enough of either, you don't need me to tell you what to do.
Didn't receive much of a writing education from school? You'll find it easier to not be such an irrepressible bore. Schools seem to do a great job at turning people into essay writers with all the panache of a robot.
When it comes to structure and tone of voice, for certain, sometimes the essay style is what you'll want... Mind you, I doubt that you'll have too much luck if you're a totally one-dimensional writer...
So read some Hunter S. Thompson, Kerouac or other great writer that utilizes stream of consciousness. That'll get you used to writing what you think and feel not what you think you should say. Improving your writing could be as easy as that. It allows honesty in your writing, which is so important.
Most important of all though? Write something.
Write anything you want - at any time you want. In the bath? On the commode? In bed at 4am when you awake with a thought. I would argue that too many people waste those thoughts on their social timelines alone.
You'll only get better as you warm up those engines. Newton's law of what's in motion and all that... Let the proverbial ink flow, let it floooow.
So long as read and write often, you can learn the rest later. That's the only real habit you need. If you can do that, and write with some soul - you can learn the rest. Heck, if you can write with some soul you'll be better than average right out the gate.
Soul and substance, or personality and story. That's pretty much it. That's the key.