As much as we would like to think that our personal creative well is infinite, there are times when writer’s block creeps in and starts to make it to run a little dry. Long-term blogging gigs or bulk content assignments can put you at risk for this type of scenario.
Online Readability Calculators: An Important Part of your Freelance Writing Toolbox
If you are a working freelance writer, language is your stock in trade. Obviously, you love words and language or you would not be working in this field. Should you show off your love of prose by using the most exquisite and complicated version of English that you can find when doing work for clients? Nope. Readability is more important than making your work look pretty, and online readability calculators are an important part of your freelance writing toolbox. [Read more…]
Greeting Card Writing Tips
I’d like to think that freelance writers are some of the most versatile creatives out there. Most of us can write about a variety of topics, use different styles, and reach out to various audiences.
One interesting market for freelance writers, which challenges one’s creativity more than usual is the greeting card market. If you are thinking of trying this niche out, we have a comprehensive resource material about it: How to Break into the Greeting Card Market. [Read more…]
Ways to Get in the Writing Zone
Writing for a living is not as easy as others would think, is it? Whether you’re writing your novel, or you’re writing articles and blog posts for clients, there are periods when you just can’t seem to focus.
There are those times, however, when you get in the writing zone, and you seem to be a lean mean writing machine. Thank the muses!
Unfortunately, getting in the writing zone is not always as simple as opening the door and entering your home office. On the flip side, there are things you can do to help get in the writing zone. [Read more…]
7 Tips for Making your Writing More Engaging
As a writer, one of your most important jobs is to grab your reader’s attention and pull them into your blog post or article. You want to get the reader excited about what they are going to find when they delve into your words. Keep in mind that you are competing against scores of other material that is also promising to give “your” reader the same type of exciting, informative and helpful information. You have to take steps to make your writing more engaging than another person’s material on a similar topic.
Ghost Writing for a Business Blogging Client: Writing Style Tips
Starting your own blog is an excellent way to showcase your own writing style, independent from work that has been commissioned by clients. It’s your own space on the Internet where you are free to write as yourself and not in the parameters ordered by someone else. There is certainly something freeing in working on your own projects for a change, and this is also a good way to promote your writing business and attract new clients who may be interested in hiring you for some business blogging.
20 Quick Creative Writing Prompts
Creative writing isn’t always easy. Even the most creative writer sometimes finds himself/herself stuck on a chapter, a scene, or a paragraph.
When that happens, you can always force yourself to go on, or you can take a break. You can also turn to other things that may help bring more out of you – creative writing prompts.
Here are 20 quick creative writing prompts that are fun and “easy”. When you need a break from whatever it is that’s giving you problems, check these out. [Read more…]
Do You Want Proofreading to Be an Easier Task? Read This.
Proofreading is an inherent part of me. Whenever I write something, I have to proofread it. It’s a habit, and since I am a creature of habit, proofreading is a given.
That doesn’t mean that I find it an easy task, though, and it may be the same for some of you.
For one, it is a well-known fact that going over your own work with the intent of finding mistakes does not always yield good results. You’re biased. Your eyes tend to gloss over mistakes. Typos – misspellings, misplaced punctuation marks, etc. – can easily be overlooked.
On Bad Writing, Bad Proofreading and Responsibility
Your eyes’ condition may be another factor. What can you expect if you’ve been looking at the computer screen for hours working on that article? Of course your eyes are tired! Of course, you can make mistakes while proofreading.
How can we make proofreading an easier task?
Here are two simple things to do.
1. Take a break before proofreading.
Sure, there’s no stopping that first immediate proofreading if you are compelled to do that, but why not leave your work untouched for 15 or so minutes while you take a break? If it’s late, and you’re not under pressure, you can even leave it overnight and proofread in the morning. A fresh set of eyes – your own – will work better.
2. Change your font.
We all have our preferred fonts. Some of our clients may have their required fonts. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about changing your font solely for the purpose of proofreading. Some fonts are more readable than others, and if you use a highly readable font when proofreading, your task becomes easier. Additionally, any change in font will actually make it easier for you to spot mistakes as what you see on the screen is different from what you saw the whole time you wrote.
We all know that Comic Sans, as hated as it is by many (I’m a lover, so read this), is one of the most readable fonts. Other fonts which are good for online reading Georgia, Verdana, and Arial.
One last thing: go up one or two font sizes for proofreading.
What are your tricks to make proofreading easier?
How to Become a Better Writer
Editor’s note: This post was written by Gary Dek, the blogger behind StartABlog123.com and Gajizmo.com. He offers small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density research to recovering from Panda/Penguin updates to promoting their blogs and growing traffic.
Are you inspired and motivated to become a great writer? Do you read writing blogs and get the urge to start one, too? Maybe you’re looking for a second income to pay off your debts faster or just had a baby and want to make money from home as a freelance writer.
But you’re worried that you don’t have what it takes to become a professional writer. You don’t think you’re an expert on anything worth writing about, and even if you were, why should anyone hire you specifically? Do you have the habits of a successful writer, or are you doomed to be nothing but a writing wannabe?
Here are a few tips on becoming a better writer and how to differentiate yourself.
What Is Good Writing?
Some individuals in the writing community are book snobs. They think that classic literature is more valid than ‘chick lit’ or that magazines are literary garbage. There are others who think that bloggers are wannabe journalists or that if you self-publish a book, then it must be bad because no publisher would touch it.
What is good and worthy is subjective and relative. The only way to tell if you’re a good writer is to measure the impact you have on your readers. Did you offer a solution to an everyday problem? Did you persuade them to change or improve? Did you captivate or engage them? Did you connect with them on a personal or emotional level?
These are the types of questions you should ask yourself because, at the end of the day, they’re the ones that matter. Using complex sentence structures, alluding to a Shakespearean sonnet, or incorporating SAT vocabulary that only an Oxford Scholar would understand doesn’t make you a great writer. As a freelance writer or blogger, it can make you seem cold, distant, and disconnected.
Ways you might be able to measure whether your writing affects people include:
- User comments and discussions on your blog.
- Direct emails from readers expressing appreciation or asking for additional information.
- Good reviews of your latest Kindle novel, eBook, podcast, etc.
- Social shares that demonstrate strong connections with your work.
Any kind of attention or feedback means your writing is compelling in some way. Otherwise, you’re either writing about something no one wants to read or your style is too dry and boring. Neither of those qualities is desired by publishers.
Steps To Better Writing
Before you can become a better and popular writer, you must hone your skills. While what is considered good may be relative, the habits you must acquire are universal. The following are solid, proven methods to improve your skills.
Learn The Craft
If you want to be a chef, you must first learn how to cook; and if you want to be a writer, you have to learn the principles of writing, including but not limited to: grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary and punctuation. You may have great ideas for your writing style, but for it to be any good, you must first learn the rules. Then you can go ahead and break them as you see fit.
You must also learn story-writing essentials such as purpose, tone, plot, character development, and structure. Learn how to write realistic dialogue so your characters don’t come off as wooden and one dimensional.
The best way to achieve this is to read. Ever notice how the best writers are voracious readers? This is because exposure to quality work sets a standard in your mind and what we learn as readers, we’ll implement as writers.
Write, Write, and Write
This may seem a bit obvious, but writers have to actually write. Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. The more you practice writing, the easier you can put your thoughts into words. You must create a daily writing habit and commit to it.
If you are a new freelancer and don’t have any writing gigs yet, start a personal blog and make it a habit to write every day, even when you don’t feel like it. If you are serious about becoming a successful freelance writer, it has to feel like a job – pick a time, start working and stay until you’ve finished.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, use the step-by-step tutorial provided by StartABlog123.com to learn how to set up a blog in under 20 minutes. Once you start getting freelancing jobs, your blog will serve as your resume and portfolio.
Seek Out Criticism
The feedback you receive from peers, writers, professors, and mentors is invaluable. They may not represent your target audience, but the constructive criticism you’ll get from them will help you determine your shortcoming and where you need focus.
It may bruise the ego to hear that something you’ve written is falling flat, especially if it’s something you took a particular liking to, but this is how you learn to sharpen your instincts.
The Intangibles That Can’t Be Taught
While the above tips will strengthen your technical and fundamental writing skills, there is a bit more to “good writing” than having proper grammar and sentence structure. The easiest way to describe it is that each literary piece you produce must have personality.
Here are a few qualities that will allow you to genuinely connect with readers and evoke positive emotions with your work.
- Compassion gives you the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, which in turn helps you create realistic and relatable characters. Empathy helps a writer tap into the audience’s emotional pulse.
- Ingenuity is what helps a fiction writer create an imaginative and intriguing setting for a story. A writer with imagination or unique problem-solving skills is able to attack an old dilemma with a different point of view. The latter is especially crucial for freelance writers trying to stand out in a crowded niche.
- Dedication is what separates a serious writer from a wishful thinker. Good writers tend to live and breathe their writing. They can’t go a day without it; they are always thinking about their next post, short story, editorial, satire, novel, etc. A great writer is passionate about language, communication and using both to tell stories that capture hearts and minds. That passion will be what keeps you committed despite the occasional failure.
These character traits may or may not be learned; it really depends on you as an individual. Sometimes experiences and environments can change people, as can purposeful behavioral modification. If you believe your writing lacks these qualities, how can you acquire them?
Get Some Life Experience and Share It
One of the oldest rules for writers is to write what you know, but in order to have anything insightful to share, you’re going to have to live a little. Step outside of your comfort zone and be adventurous, experiencing moments that challenge you mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. Make new friends and listen to different perspectives to further develop empathy.
Develop A Taste For Diversity
Open your mind to the possibility that you are wrong about everything you believe in. Exposing yourself to a wide range of topics, personalities, and philosophies rather than sticking with what you know and love, will help you build your imagination. If you tend to only watch comedy films, branch out to documentaries and science fiction. Only interested in classic literature? Try reading something from a recent bestseller list. Never been out of the country? Travel to Peru and visit Machu Picchu, the Peruvian Amazon Basin, and Lake Titicaca. Unique experiences will engage readers and spark new ideas, helping you stand out.
One of my favorite quotes to support this is from Steve Jobs:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Be More Open and Less Repressed
Beware of dismissing what you love out of fear of appearing uncool or weird. Indifference is a creative energy killer. Indulge your passions, share them with others, and find others who have similar interests. Learn to accept what makes you unique, and embrace being you.
Anyone Can Become A Better Writer
It takes work to be a better writer, but you can do it. You have to be willing to learn your craft, make time to write and accept productive criticism when necessary. Working with mentors, professors and other talented and dedicated writers can also increase your odds. But if you want to succeed, you can’t just mechanically follow these steps. Ultimately, you must transform yourself into someone with a unique voice worth reading. If you can educate and uplift your audience, you’ll always be in demand.
Writer’s Block: What it is and How to Move Past it so You can Write Again
If you have ever been plagued by writer’s block, you know how painful the blank page or screen can be. While you may be concerned that the inability to get anything down is a sign of writer burnout, the two conditions are not the same thing.