Some people asked me where I get my writing ideas from and really I was flattered, especially since I don’t claim to be the expert and I see myself as someone who is always learning. They even asked if I have some “Writing Process” I follow. I put these words between quotation marks because really there is no phenomenal process involved. For me, writing in general is the product of five little ideas. On that note, I can also say with confidence that no one ever masters writing completely, but we all try. What I’m writing about today is the product of my own blunders. I learned many of these things the hard way i.e. through the fury of a boss who hated my writing, clients who didn’t want me working on their accounts and many similar situations I’m sure no one really wants to be in.
Here are my five little ideas
1: Be yourself: No matter who you are writing for, use your own style. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore a client’s preferences completely but it does mean that you need to make sure that the end product is something you would want to read. We, including myself, at times get too wrapped up in trying to guess what the reader wants, likes, prefers, and what everyone else is writing about. We even catch ourselves trying to copy someone else which isn’t something we should do. Understand the needs of your audience, and understand a client’s needs. However, meet these needs in your own words. Don’t hit the “Publish”, “Send” or “Submit” button until you are sure that you are satisfied with whatever you wrote and you even like it.
2: Own It: No matter who you are writing for, your end product is a reflection of you, your values and your standards. So, this is where the value of proofreading comes in. Make sure, to the best of your ability, that your writing is error free. Treat it like your identity. The best way to proofread is to write, finish, leave it, work on something else and then come back to it to re-read it. The more we work on something, the more we become familiar with it. We even become familiar with its typos, extra spaces, and whatever else our enthusiasm has made us generate in terms of writing blunders. Honestly, at times I have been guilty of adopting the wrong idea about proofreading. I used to say to myself that my writing is online and that I can always update it if I noticed something wrong with it. The truth is that people would have already read it by the time I made this realization. So, to the best of my abilities I try to spot mistakes before I hit the “Publish” button. It doesn’t always work but making this mental commitment to own it, at least limits the times it doesn’t. Like I said we are all still works in progress.
3: We Should All Do the Writing Flow Test: Now once we have made the commitment to use our own voice and to really own our product this means that we are probably using words we usually use, phrases we usually say and we are even making conversations we would make in real life through our writing. At this point, our writing should read like a conversation we are actually interested in having. So, the best way to test the writing flow is to read it out loud and at a slightly faster pace than the pace we would usually read at. If we are stumbling on words, or trying to catch your breath between words then this is our queue to make changes.
4: Be Interested: This one is very important. Throughout my career I have been in situations where I had to write about subjects I really was not interested in. In such situations my writing would come out dry and unimaginative. What I learned to do over the years is to read more on the subjects I write about, especially when I’m not writing for my blog. I would keep reading about the subject until I find in it a point of interest I can relate to, and then I start writing about it. If you are not interested in what you are doing your reader will not be interested in your writing. Believe me; our audience can sense more than we think they can.
5: Finally, Let’s Tell the Truth About the “Writing Process”: For some reason, people assume that those who write follow this magical process where they meditate and seek spiritual guidance. Some people may do that, but honestly I don’t. I don’t light scented candles, meditate, or summon the higher powers of inspiration in order to write. For me, the whole process is simple. I believe that one should write when really inspired. I even failed to make the commitment to write at a fixed time of day. I tried to do the 100 days of blogging challenge only to realize that I was forcing myself to write everyday just for the sake of hitting the 100 blogs mark. Some of my blog posts were not really interesting. So, I stopped. I did learn from this attempt that there are no uneventful days on this earth and you can find something to talk about every day if you really want to. But am I really inspired to write about everything that happens in my life? The answer is no. So, my writing process is to write when I’m really inspired and only when I have something of value to say. When I am forced to write against a deadline, I get myself interested. I try to find an angle that interests me in any subject. This, to me, is the only writing process.
These are my simple tips and my experiences in writing. They are not carved in stone. Other tactics may work for other people. But, if I was asked to teach someone to write, this is what I would say to them.I don;t claim to be perfect and I am always still learning.