4 Quirky Ways to Write More and Better
This is a guest post by Arsene Hodali. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Most people try to persuade you into writing by telling you how rewarding the art of writing is, and how although it’s challenging, it magically becomes easy over time.
That’s a load of bull.
Writing does not get easy over time. In fact ask a serious writer whether or not they love the act of writing and they’ll usually tell you they don’t. Writing is strenuous; it’s never going to be ‘easy’.
So why do some people seem to constantly write more and better than others if writing is equally hard for everyone? Well, that’s all due to the tactics they apply to writing. The best writers I’ve found all apply conditions to their writing.
And if you can calmly listen for a tad bit I’ll tell you about some of them.
1. Write as if you’re writing to a friend
Why do most new bloggers write more passionate and heartfelt content than most professional bloggers? Because most new bloggers don’t have an audience. People fear audiences; the bigger the audience gets the more they see their own flaws (even when they’re barely noticeable) and start to ponder whether or not they’re worthy of being in the audience’s limelight.
So one way to write better is to disregard the audience.
Stop writing for an audience and instead write for a friend.
Write everything as if you’re writing it for your best friend (imagine yourself writing an email to them perhaps).
What this does is that it makes your content more heartfelt and much much more simpler. For you and I know that whenever we try to persuade our friend into doing anything, let alone listen, we have to explain our situation in the simplest and most heartfelt manner.
Shockingly, this is the same passion and simplicity that will touch your audiences heart. Go figure.
2. Write as if you’re never sure until it’s written
Most people think that in order to write something down, they have to be 100% sure of what they’re talking about. And this is the problem. No one’s ever 100% sure (except for the ignorant). When you approach writing like this the only thing you’re doing is putting up a big barrier for yourself.
Instead approach writing as the process of being sure (which is quiet different). Tell yourself that the only way you’ll ever be more sure of anything is by writing about it.
Approach writing as the process of being sure.
People view writers as always being sure of themselves (how else could they write what they write about so well?), but frankly this is a mirage. Most writers actually write things down in order to be sure of themselves (they too are human after-all).
Through writing things down, they’re able to see their thoughts take form. Some of it makes sense, some of it doesn’t. Then they make sense of the nonsense, and present the finally piece to you; the audience. Books are not written in one sitting.
3. Stare at a blank canvas
Don’t approach writing as having to write in itself. What I propose is that you shouldn’t even think about writing when you want to write. Instead view writing as the act of staring at a blank canvas (yours can be a sheet of paper perhaps, but mine’s the computer screen).
This is what I do. I set a designated time everyday where I must stare at a blank screen for at least one hour (I use WriteRoom). What this does is calm me down. For this approach tells me that I don’t have to write, I don’t have to think, I frankly, don’t have to do anything except stare at a blank screen with my keyboard in front of me. The thing being that after staring at a blank screen long enough I always find my fingers flying all over the keyboard. As if they had a mind of their own.
This is the beauty of staring at a blank canvas, your fingers start doing the writing for you, not your brain.
As Seth Godin frequently says, “You’re lizard brain fears work.” It fears writing… But it doesn’t fear sitting down and doing nothing. For that’s not work, that’s mindless staring.
But your fingers don’t fear work. Quiet the opposite, your fingers love work. So what staring at a blank canvas does is it calms the brain (have no fear, there’s no work here), while giving your fingers all the material they need in order for them to do what they love (work). And the more you learn, the better your fingers get (this is called practice).
I figured that if my brain had to do the writing for me instead of my fingers, I’d be writing a lot more less (this post would more than likely be nonexistent).
4. Don’t hit publish quiet yet
You’ve written your masterpiece, congratulations! Now leave it alone and go do something else.
Don’t hit publish; Don’t send it out into the world just yet. Wait a day.
We all have this urge to put our work out there as soon as it’s done, but what most of us forget is that in that brief moment after we’ve finished writing we all get this delusional view of our writing.
In that brief moment after we’re done writing something we all think we’ve written masterpieces.
So disillusion yourself. Walk away from your ‘masterpiece’. Come back to it tomorrow and read it again. Come back to it when you no longer have on those rose-tinted glasses that make all your writing seem amazing.
Now that you’re back, is your writing still good? Does it now look like all the other writing that’s out there or is it still as unique as you thought it was? If so, then click that publish button, for the world needs more good writing. But if you think you can write better or improve upon it then do that instead.
But I warn you, don’t fuss over perfection, it’s non-existent. While clicking that publish button a lot slower than you usually do, keep in mind that you will still need to ship as much as possible (Seth’s words again, seems I like the guy). This is why I urge you to stay at least one day ahead in your writing. For this gives you enough time to wait a day until you publish, while still allowing you to constantly put work out there into the world.
And as I said earlier writing isn’t easy for anyone. But by applying certain boundaries (I’d rather not call them tricks) to your writing you can in fact write more and better. It’s never going to be easy, but it does get easier.
About the Author: Arsene Hodali examines life through whimsical thoughts, questions, and actions over at dancePROOF.com. From surviving the Rwandan Genocide to living on two hours of sleep a day for 6 months, he’s experienced some pretty wild things. To quote a certain hippy, “He’s seen things man.” Outside of whimsical ponderings, you can find him running “Quotes” Clothing. He asks you to ponder life’s mysteries with him.
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24 Responses to “4 Quirky Ways to Write More and Better”
Great tips to get rid of starting trouble in writing. But I’ve to disagree with writing for your friend technique. In fact, some of the best bloggers advice to picture yourself writing for a million people. Because that way you will focus on quality.
Writing for a friend, we include more personal stuff which is of no use to the readers. They need value in our posts.
The ‘writing for a friend’ technique is one used so that your writing doesn’t slowly become conservative and bland overtime. It’s a simple way to tell yourself that you have nothing to fear but telling the truth, speaking your mind, or using language you use everyday.
Most people, when they think about writing for millions, exclude from their writing personal opinions on matters, and personal humor that makes them… them. This is actually what shouldn’t be excluded. It adds spice to the post.
“Writing for your friend” is just a simpler way of saying all that.
Glad you liked the tips.
- Arsene Hodali
Winning Ideas For Life
Just awesome and this article touched the core area of blogging. The writing ! If you are a successful writer, you can be a hugely successful blogger ! I think writing is not only about the grammer and punctuations , but also about how you visualise and present scenarios and situations ! Ability to compare the non- comparable things through one’s writing is also feature of a great writer ! About this post , it’ fantastic advice and I have learnt new things this morning 🙂 Naveen from Winning Ideas
Glad you liked the article Naveen. It’s what I aimed to touch, the core of blogging — good writing.
- Arsene Hodali
Great advice and a good read!
Thank you Robert. Thanks for reading it.
- Arsene Hodali
Great post, I am forever clicking publish and then seeing my posts a day later and thinking ‘I wish I had changed that or added this’ I will take your tips on board, especially the stare at a blank canvas! Sounds like that could really help me out right now as I am struggling to finish my first ever book!
No problem Simon,
Thanks for taking the time to read it.
- Arsene Hodali
I’m one of those who does not believe anyone can do anything if he really wants. I also do not believe writing is equally difficult for all people or that results are a matter of tactics only.
I’m an aspiring musician, but no matter how focussed my efforts, playing an instrument will always remain difficult. I was and still am clumsy on the guitar. Writing on the other hand, comes easy. I’m writing all the time about many subjects. I’ve done it since I was about 11 years old and never ceased doing it. Nowadays I write so effortlessly (at least in my mother tongue, you shouldn’t judge by the merits of this post) that I didn’t even notice how exceptional it was, until I started a blog about making music. The people don’t actually care about the subject (my music) but they do show a lot of interest in my writing skills.
That’s the combination of gift and unconscious practice for you. I’m not saying tactics cannot help to overcome the occasional hurdle. Also, we must be careful not to become easy going with ourselves and must try to break away from our comfort zone. Writing may be very easy for me, but it doesn’t make me an artist in literature.
I like tactic 2 but it’s more of an attitude than a tactic. Staring at the blank canvas on the other hand has never worked for me.
My basic tactic is this one: read everything, keep your senses open for new experiences, open the brain for new thoughts. If you feel the urge to write, then you’re probably a born writer. If you must force yourself to write (like I must force myself to play an instrument), well, good luck with your blog because it’s likely to have as much success as my songs.
Me and you differ slightly on our beliefs. I believe anyone CAN do anything they put their minds to, but not just anyone can become GREAT at what they’re doing.
In order to be a great writer you’re going to need a mix of natural skill and dedication. Most great writers are naturally gifted, but they worked they butts off to get the logistics of it down.
There’s a quote that goes something along the lines of “The most common people are talented people with no drive.”
I believe that if you love writing, and are good at it, then you’re going to have to work hard at it to be the BEST. You won’t always be happy with writing, but the people that excel are those that learn that writing isn’t easy (if it was, everyone would be doing it), that they can’t always wait for the moment they’re inspired to write, and that there are things -such as the specifics of grammar, adverbs, adjectives – that even talent won’t teach you. Those need practice, and practice won’t be easy.
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree with your statement about taking a gift to the next level. Maybe I should stare at a blank canvas once in a while to break away from the usual pattern “spontaneous idea – spontaneous writing – immediate publishing”.
On the other hand I also agree with Trevor below that putting yourself under pressure can be counterproductive sometimes. He interestingly makes the association with new year’s resolutions. Indeed, if I quit a certain bad habit it is most often because I allowed myself to move away from it almost subconsciously and rarely by force.
It’s a fine balance between relaxation and sloth, or their pendants stress and discipline.
- Arsene Hodali
The best thing I’ve figured out in regard to blog writing is that unlike my other work, people don’t pay to read my blog. If they don’t like what I write about that day, they don’t have to stick around and read it. I don’t have a “followers” list or track how many people subscribe, on purpose.
With this in mind, I’m able to post much more frequently and quit fretting about whether or not readers will like it, or if it is marketable. It frees up my natural voice and lets me instinctively go with whatever has caught my interest. I know that if I post regularly, readers who enjoy my overall content will know another post is on the way if the current one doesn’t light them up.
When I started writing, it was sometimes helpful to imagine an audience in the guise of a friend or someone I admired and write for them, but now I write for me. There is a certain voice in my writing when it’s really flowing which satisfies me entirely, and I am always working to get in sync with it, click in.
It can take a few drafts and edits, and I certainly agree that some posts need to cool off in the drafts folder rather than rush to publish them as soon as they are completed.
On the blog, as long as I feel satisfaction with a post, I’m going to assume that readers will like it, too. E.
Your best friend that you’re writing for is you. =)
- Arsene Hodali
I recently published a guest blog that I rated a 5 out of 10. Although it had good take always, content, and information it didn’t feel right. (Write? Bwa ha ha). This post has lead me to the answer. I wrote to an audience. My best writing has always been written to a friend. Thank you.
Glad I could help.
- Arsene Hodali
Arsene, you seem to have the secret to good writing figured out, which in a word is “relaxation.” The more you can learn not to stress over writing, the better quality material you will produce over time.
This is why I recommend not setting a schedule for posting on a blog.
Whenever humans set a schedule for a new activity, they usually end up failing to keep their new commitment. Just look at how many people set a schedule for exercising in the new year and then fail to live up to their own expectations.
Writing is a natural process. The right words will come when your passion for a topic can no longer be contained. People should not get stressed out if they can not decide what to write about.
Quality beats quantity every time, and quality comes when you learn to relax and not take yourself too seriously.
I wish I had the â€˜secretâ€™ to good writing. But, I do feel the warmth of your compliment nonetheless.
I agree with you on the relaxation front (to a degree). But a good writer should test his boundaries every now and then by putting themselves on a tight schedule. (It makes the relaxed writing, that much more relaxed; that much more better.)
Donâ€™t let this get out, but a good reason to follow tip #4 is so that a writer gives themselves ample time to re-read and re-write BEFORE they write. Giving the writer a sense of having an abundance of time, relaxing them further.
But, I like what you say. Quality beats quantity, and taking yourself too seriously is the death of all good writing.
- Arsene Hodali
I wish I had the ‘secret’ to good writing. But, I do feel the warmth of your compliment nonetheless.
Don’t let this get out, but a good reason to follow tip #4 is so that a writer gives themselves ample time to re-read and re-write BEFORE they write. Giving the writer a sense of having an abundance of time, relaxing them further.
Hey love it – your take on it is so true and you’re spot on ‘writing does not get easier over time’ but its abit easier if as you suggest you write for a ‘friend’ – really good points
Glad you ‘love’ it. Thanks for taking the time to read it.
- Arsene Hodali
HP van Duuren
Thanks for your Quirky Way’s…,
‘A Technique that I discoverd for Writing New Posts
in a somewhat similar way as
your Quirky Way NR. 1 is……,’
A Technique to easliy make it – ‘Conversational’ – by Writing a New Post simply – based on your own Previous Post – in a way as like Commenting on your own Previous Post, making it like an On Going Conversation that way. For this you could for example use a simple Wordpad Screen that you modify to fit besides your own previous post, to make it easier to write your New Post based on your Own Previous Post. Or you can have a look at my Writing Blog, where you can read about many other Practical Tips for
Writing in General.
All the Best,
To your Happy – Blogging – Inspiration,
I like that.
Anything that’s makes people write more, better, and less seriously is a pleasure to see.
Thanks for sharing.
- Arsene Hodali
Really, you literally do nothing for an hour everyday except for stare at a blank screen? That just seems like the dumbest piece of advice. “Don’t do your homework right away, stare at your textbook for an hour, and the answers will just come to you,””Don’t cook dinner right away, stare at your pantry for an hour first and the ingredients you should use will just come to your mind.”
How about this, if you’re really set on wasting an hour thinking of ideas, go jogging. That helps, and isn’t a complete waste of time.
The staring is to calm the mind and relax the fingers. I’ve never actually stared at a screen for a full hour doing nothing.
Calm mind + ready to type fingers = writing. Go figure.
- Arsene Hodali
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