On writing

Photo credit: alcomm from Flickr

As I wrote in an earlier post, I’ll be spending the remainder of this year completing a novel that I was trying to plug away at in 2009. It turns out, I’m actually a lot further along in my first draft than I had thought and have reached the over 50,000 word mark. (Note to self: do word counts every once in a while.)

Every once in a while I get a message from a stranger asking me for writing advice. It takes me by surprise every time. And I’m not sure why. I’m very passionate about what I do and committed to making a career as a writer. In fact, I’ve known since I was in grade three—writing plays about zoo cats and touring classes at my elementary school with the production—that this was the path I was going to take. I suppose I don’t consider myself fully there yet because I don’t have that “published” piece out there. You know, the one that pays me the big bucks.

In any case, I don’t think I can give any more (or better) tips than what’s already out there. That said, my area of writing expertise at the moment is in the online world so here are my thoughts about being a better writer in this space:

  1. Be a voracious reader. The best way of knowing how to write content for online, is to read content from online. A lot of it. Fill your RSS reader with the crème de la crème. But also check out the really awful stuff to remind you of what doesn’t work and to think about why.
  2. Be a part of meaningful conversations. The best way to learn about any industry is to connect with the people who are in it. There’s a huge writing and publishing community online who are using tools like Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, check out the hashtag #amwriting.
  3. Take feedback with a grain of salt. On the one hand, you don’t want to have such an ego about your writing that you can’t hear constructive criticism for what it is. On the other hand, you want to have enough of an ego to not be crushed by the critics.
  4. Write. A lot. Obviously. Your own blog is great practice. Decide on a schedule that is reasonable for you to follow. Stick to it. Contribute elsewhere, comment on other blogs. Eventually, you’ll find your voice.
  5. Repeat all of the above. After all, practice makes perfect.

Maybe it all seems straightforward but I really don’t think there’s any magic to being a decent online writer. The most important thing about your online presence as a writer is to be authentic.

Do you have any writing tips for online or other forms?


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