Friday, June 15, 2012

Wanta Be a Writer?

Me too. Some people are naturally good at it and others have to work on it. I'm one of those that must continue to work on it, daily. Due to that fact, I'm always going to the good writers to see what advice they have for me. Here's some top quality writing advice:

Brian Clark, author of www.copyblogger.com, wrote 10 simple steps to become a writer. I love these!
  1. Write.
  2. Write more.
  3. Write even more.
  4. Write even more than that.
  5. Write when you don’t want to.
  6. Write when you do.
  7. Write when you have something to say.
  8. Write when you don’t.
  9. Write every day.
  10. Keep writing.
I very much agree with Clark. Writing is like reading, running, addition & subtraction, lay ups & freethrow shooting, cooking, for anything really, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

More importantly, I truly believe that in order to become a better writer, you must READ. The good reader is a good writer. There are a lot of people who agree with me. Although not all of these quotes pertain directly to writing, you'll find that they all apply to writing because writing involves imagination, knowledge, and ideas, many of which come from READING.
  • Bell Hooks, "Life transforming ideas have always come to me through books."
  • Dr Seuss, "The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you'll go."
  •  Isaac D'Israeli "There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing." (They all go hand in hand!)
  • Richard Steele, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."
  • Stan Barstow, "The world may be full of fourth-rate writers, but it's also full of fourth-rate readers."
  • Stephen King, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
  • William Faulkner, “Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”
So my advice: If you wish to be a writer... write lots, read MORE! (Check out my Recommended Reading list, which is broken down into genre, if you have no idea what to read.)

Lastly, remember these 6 items: your ideas, organization, sentence fluency, word choice, voice, and conventions. I went to college to become a writing teacher in Nebraska. So the 6 Writing Traits were pounded into my head. Remember them, they will help you!
  1. Ideas
    • What is my message and is it clear?
    • Are my details relevant to my topic?
    • Will my audience find the topic interesting?
    • Will my audience learn something new?
    • Are my ideas easy to understand?
  2. Organization
    • Does my lede hook my audience?
    • Is it easy to follow?
    • Do all my ideas logically link to my main message?
    • Is my conclusion strong?
  3. Sentence Fluency
    • Do my sentences begin different ways?
    • Do I have a variety of sentence lengths?
    • Does my paper sound smooth when I read it aloud? (This is a must!)
  4. Voice
    • Will my audience know that I'm enthusiastic about the topic?
    • Does this writing sound like me?
    • How do I want my audience to feel as they read it, did I accomplish that?
  5. Conventions 
    • Did I leave spaces between words and phrases?
    • Did I use a title?
    • Did I use correct punctuation?
    • Did I use correct capitalization?
    • Have I proofread for grammar errors? (Read aloud!)
    • Did I check my spelling?
    • Are my paragraphs separated logically?
  6. Word Choice
    • Did I use strong verbs?
    • Did I use colorful phrases and adjectives?
    • Did I choose the most precise word?
    • Did I repeat words more than I should?
    • Mark Twain has a quote that fits perfectly to this trait!
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter - it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." - Mark Twain

I have one more piece of advice from Anton Chekov that perfectly explains good writing, "Don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass." Some writers do this naturally, others need to work at it, but if you're like me and need to work at it, and if you truly "wanta be a writer" do these things:
  1. Write Lots.
  2. Read More.
  3. Remember the 6 Traits.
Now, I must take my own advice before hitting the "Publish" button! ;)

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