Become a Better Writer by Making Two Simple Resolutions
Who wouldn’t want to become a better writer in 2013? The cry ‘Content is King’ resounds around the web – and with the latest changes to search engine algorithms, the ability to produce awesome, high quality content is becoming more and more important. People surfing the web have always loved great content – but the search engines are catching up fast and increasingly rewarding websites and blogs that are full of the good stuff.
Want to put some real fireworks into your business in 2013? Then become a better writer!
If you want to make money blogging, writing eBooks, copywriting or from any other activity that involves producing written content, improving the quality of your writing has got to be a number one priority.
As usual, I’m making a few New Year resolutions and I can tell you this one’s right there at the top of my list.
If, like me, you’re serious about becoming a better writer in 2013, how about making a couple of simple resolutions, at the turn of the year, to make it come true?
It’s easy to be cynical about New Year resolutions, but I’ve always been inspired by the idea of making a fresh start. ‘New beginnings’ – I’m a sucker for them – probably because I’m always making a mess of things and love the feeling that I’ve got a chance to start over and get things right.
I’ll be honest, I’m making new resolutions all year round – like, “I will get up the minute the alarm goes off”, “I will keep my desk tidy”, “I will not leave my ironing until I’ve nothing to wear…” (the list goes on!)
Even if we never do, ultimately, ‘get it right’ and end up breaking many of the promises we make to ourselves, I don’t think that’s any reason to stop making them.
I’m a great believer in our capacity to change and improve – lots of fat people do lose weight, many alcoholics do stop drinking, tons of smokers manage to give up cigarettes (I’m living proof!), while some confirmed couch potatoes get off their butts and wind up running marathons.
That kind of transformation often starts with a promise – a resolution – so don’t knock them!
Maybe you think your writing sucks – or perhaps you don’t think it’s that bad but you’d like to make it even better – wherever you’re at with your writing, there’s always room for improvement. Any great author will tell you they never stop developing their craft, and if your business depends on the quality of your written content, this has got to be something worth striving for.
So – if becoming a better writer is one of your goals for 2013, here are a couple of simple New Year resolutions that have the power to make that dream a reality.
How to Become a Better Writer in 2013
1. Read Every Day – Whether you Feel Like it or Not
- All great writers are great readers.
- Reading improves your vocabulary and grammar. When you come across a word you don’t understand, look it up – for example, only this week I’ve discovered what ‘Ormolu’ is (in case you’re interested and in ignorance, as I was, it’s an alloy designed to imitate gold, used to decorate ornamental furniture and clocks).
- Reading exposes you to different styles of writing and helps you develop your own.
- Reading gives you all sorts of ideas for your own writing – concepts, images, stories, analogies etc.
- ANY kind of reading counts – newspapers, novels, non fiction books, articles, blog posts, comic books, adverts – it’s all nourishment for your writer’s brain.
- The more diverse your reading, the better – try not to restrict yourself to reading about your own area of interest or expertise. The more widely you read, the richer your own writing will become.
- Start reading as a writer. Notice how other writers write, the way they use language, the effects they achieve – take note of what works, and what doesn’t. It won’t spoil your reading enjoyment, if anything it will enhance it, and you’ll be picking up some great tips from the experts as you go.
2. Write Every Day – Whether You Feel Like it or Not
- All great writers write – a LOT!
- Practice makes perfect – great concert pianists, Olympic athletes, Nobel prize-winning scientists, world famous artists and Oscar winning actors all have one thing in common – they work at their craft. Amazing authors are not born – they make themselves great by writing, writing, writing…….and then writing a bit more.
- Carry a notebook or some kind of recording device, and get in the habit of noting down things you see and hear, or thoughts that occur to you during the day. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a memory like a sieve and find bits of inspiration often evaporate into thin air if I don’t write them down – which is infuriating! Apparently Roald Dahl was never without his notebook, which he used to jot down observations and ideas, just in case they might come in handy for his stories. You never know when you might get an inspired idea for that next blog post – so make sure you’ve something to hand to note it down.
- Think about creating some kind of writing ‘play pen’ or ‘sand pit’ – somewhere you can experiment and play with your writing, without worrying about the finished article. I use a daily diary for this purpose – it’s a ‘safe’ place, where I can play about with words and ideas and write freely, without my internal editor sitting on my shoulder. It’s also the place where I commit to writing something, no matter what, every single day – to make sure I keep those wheels oiled.
How To Make Sure You KEEP Your Resolutions
- Make sure they’re ‘do-able’: If reading and writing every single day really isn’t manageable for you, adapt this so that it’s within your grasp – for example, you could commit to reading and writing on certain days of the week, or on alternate days.
- Make them as specific as possible: If you can commit to reading and writing for certain periods, at particular times of the day, all the better.
- Schedule them in as high priority activities: If you don’t plan to read and write, there’s a strong possibility that other pressures will intervene (Facebook and Twitter spring to mind). Make sure reading and writing are somewhere near the top of your ‘do’ list every day. Remember – these are high value, productive activities that are going to energize and improve your writing. The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of your achievement results from about 20% of your activities. When it comes to creating stunning content, reading and writing are in that crucial 20% – they’re key activities that will make the biggest contribution to your success, so don’t let them get squeezed out.
- Do them when you’re fresh: Don’t leave your reading and writing to the fag end of the day when you’re tired – make sure you timetable it in for times when you’re bright eyed and bushy-tailed. Confession time here, folks – a few months ago I committed to keeping a daily diary, and I’ve stuck to that (and if you knew my track record for such things, you’d appreciate that’s a major achievement!) However, I’ll admit I’ve often left it until late at night and ended up writing it when I’m exhausted. One of my personal New Year resolutions is to put an end to this by booking it into my schedule earlier in the day.
- Tell people about them: Don’t keep them to yourself. It’s much harder to keep a ‘secret’ resolution. If you tell folks what you’re going to do, it’ll make it far easier to stick to it.
- Write them down: This is an important strategy for any goals or objectives you set yourself. It helps to make your intentions ‘real’.
- Monitor them: Keep a written record of your progress. This makes sure you keep track and will help you to re-group and re-commit to your resolutions if you ‘lapse’. Lapsing’s fine, by the way – I’m a repeat offender, I do it all the time – the important thing’s to get back on the road as soon as you realize you’ve done it.
If becoming a better writer is a serious objective for you in 2013, you need to do something to get yourself into the reading and writing habit – and that’s what these resolutions are all about. Once that habit is established, it really won’t seem much of a chore – in fact, you’ll probably find you get withdrawal symptoms in the absence of a book to read or a notebook to scribble in. And that’s when you’ll know you’re on the road to becoming a better writer.
What do you reckon? Are you making any New Year’s resolutions? Do you have any alternative suggestions for resolutions we could make to improve our writing? Or perhaps you don’t think New Year’s resolutions are such a good idea? Whatever your views, I’d love to hear from you – if you’d like to join in the conversation, please leave a comment below.
And if you’ve enjoyed this post, it would be great if you’d share it with your friends.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers and to wish you all a very happy New Year – and Peace and Prosperity in 2013
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