I know a lot of budding writers who ask how they should write a book, story, or poem — they want to be able to write effectively and efficiently, in order to get all of their ideas out there.
While there are some great writing methods out there, the truth is that it does not work for everyone.
Each writer has their very own style of writing, with different methods of how to put their ideas on paper.
When I first started writing my book, I had no idea where to begin.
I had to learn along the way and figure things out as I went, and let me tell you there was many times I just wanted to give up.
But I didn’t let myself. I persisted.
And after everything I learned here are a few tips that could help you too!
Did you recently decide to write your own eBook? Doesn’t matter what it’s about could be a course in executive business coaching for example. The reason why doesn’t really matter either, whether it’s for you to sell and make money, or for you to disseminate information for free, or for you to tell a story.
You don’t really have to follow all of them either–write at your leisure, if that’s what you prefer–these next tips are generally just guidelines after all.
Decide on a Topic
Before you even get started writing, you need something to write about. So decide on what you want to write about. Or what kind of eBook you want to write. Are you creating a work of fiction?
Or perhaps a reference, a compendium about a certain disease or a certain topic. Once you have decided on your topic then the next thing you should do is to…
Start Doing the Research
Nothing good is ever done if you don’t do the research that needs to be done. You don’t want to be pulling facts out of your bottom, you want to make factual articles that people will appreciate because you’ve cited your sources and made sure that you can back any claims that you made up.
It’s a good idea to aggregate the research that you have done as well so you can come back to it any time. Use a clipboard app like Evernote to keep track.
A lot of people have talked to me before, saying that I must be so lucky because I’m a freelance writer and I get to work for myself. No need to wake up early in the morning, bother with the hassling commute to work, only to get yelled at by bosses who really couldn’t care less about you.
Well, I may be a freelance writer but I’m still a student, and that means I have to deal with the same thing, only I deal with professors instead of bosses. Bummer.
Sometimes though I deal with clients—sometimes they are recommended to me, other times they find me through my various online profiles. But regardless of how they find me I always try to present myself professionally. Why? Well…that one’s simple.
Because they find it easier to trust me with the work when they see and feel that I am professional. This is especially important as I am still a student—not everyone thinks I’d do good work as I am still in uni!
But a lot of people still do end up trusting me with work. That’s because I try to be as professional (like I said) and trustworthy as possible. If you want to do the same, here’s how.
For Meetings with Big Clients, Consider the Venue
When I have a meeting with a big client, I always remind myself to find a venue with business facilities for my client meeting in Leeds.
It’s really a great idea to hire a place to meet that will impress a client and really give them a great idea of you. I’ve gained several loyal clients this way. It may be initially expensive, but that’s really why I only do it for big clients.
You can hire a small conference room if there’s only going to be a few of you, or even just two of you.
Dress Appropriately, Even for Skype Meetings
I have found myself being scheduled for Skype meetings or interviews in order to secure clients in the past. It always benefited me to dress appropriately—proper long-sleeved shirt, tie, and sometimes even a suit jacket.
I don’t bother with pants, you know, as long as I don’t stand up then it doesn’t matter, right? The point is nobody wants to hold a Skype meeting with you only to see you disheveled, still in your pyjamas, and eating crisps in front of your computer.
Pitch Yourself Like You Would a Best Selling Product
This is something that you will have to find a good balance for. You want the client to be impressed. You want them to remember you and think about you and keep you top of mind when work needs to be done.
Meanwhile, here is a video about the Two Essential Things Professional Writers Do:
Sometimes, as a writer, you need to challenge yourself to keep yourself sharp. Some days you might end up getting writer’s block if you don’t keep yourself and your mind active, be it through practice writing or some other creative pursuit.
Personally on some days when I don’t feel like working on my current writing projects, I write something else because it helps me to keep the block away. After all nothing is worse for a writer or an artist than a creative block that just ruins everything.
If you need a few writing exercises you may want to look at the few that I do below, so that you can have an idea of what you can do to keep yourself on your toes. I know these methods work well for me, but you might find methods that would work much better for you than these. Just try something and find something you like.
You can use prompts written on index cards as a great way to start your story. Prompts can be something as simple as a word or a phrase, or even a sentence. You draw a prompt from the cards and then write something around that prompt—a story, a drabble, a poem, it doesn’t really matter.
Meanwhile here’s certain warming exercises before writing up:
Prompts can be something like ‘the best dry food to feed your cats’, and you have to fit that into something. So you can write that into a story about cats, or even an article—a blog post, whatever it may be.
There are many prompt a day challenges that you can do, with the prompts already available online. There may even be websites for prompts. Some of them can even be themed, so you can have your choice of what kind of a prompt you want to write, and what direction you want to take it in.
Short Story or Poem a Day
Another way to keep yourself sharp is to write a short story or poem a day. You can actually write whatever kind of thing you like—you can include write short stories to include in an anthology, or whatever you prefer.
Just make a commitment to write something everyday, no matter what it is. Commit to a thousand words a day, five hundred, whatever you are comfortable with and feel you have enough time for.
If you feel ready to commit to a significant writing project, you can try your hand at NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for national novel writing month. Even though it says “national”, you can join it form wherever you are around the world.
The goal is to write a novel in one month—the month of November. There is a goal of around fifty thousand words, but you can feel free to exceed it if you feel inspired. At the end of November you can have a novel, your first novel perhaps, if you have committed enough to writing at least two or three thousand words per day.
Now that I have discussed how to write a book that would interest everyone, I now need to stress how you should know how to write for a specific kind of audience.
Now, I know that many of you believe that you should be writing for yourself and no one else, the truth is that this is simply not a good way to run things. If you want success as a writer, you need to take into account what your audience wants.
I once took on a freelance project in which I had to write about the risk of breast implants carried out in Phoenix. It was supposed to be a kind of safety pamphlet that informed women about the risks of going under the knife.
It included statistics, data, a list on who is physically fit to undergo the procedure, and what they can expect during, before, and after their surgery. It also assured them that if you are healthy, the procedure is highly successful with few complications.
When I was writing the pamphlet, I decided that my audience is an academic one. Being used to writing for my history major at my university, I figured that I should make it formal and scholarly in tone. However, my client sent back the document, saying that I should switch to a more casual tone. After all, this pamphlet is supposed to target women who are getting ready for plastic surgery.
Meanwhile, here’s a few more tips on how you can incorporate the audience into your writing…
One of the ways to appeal to a specific readership is to take into account the age of your audience. For example, if your audience include children, you may need to simplify not only your vocabulary, but your sentence structure as well. The same goes when writing for teens and for young adults.
My favourite example of this writing style is the style of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway wrote books that appealed to younger readers, but as a result gained readership among adults as well.
The suggested readership for his most popular novel “The Old Man by the Sea”, is 12 and above. It is considered a very educational novel, and is often studied as part of literature classes in grade school.
Hemingway knew who is audience was, and wrote poignant, emotional pieces of literature using simple sentences that are easy to read.
In fact, some critics have lambasted him for “never using big words”, but he maintains that you do not need big words to convey complex emotions. So, learn how to write for an audience and adjust your writing accordingly. Just remember that a book that has never been read is a book that has no value.
As a writer, you may have to write about other things too, and not just your novel or the topics you always want to write about.
You may end up writing about topics that make you uncomfortable, topics you know nothing about, or topics you entirely hate and despise.
As much as you hate it, if those are the jobs that pay the bills, then you will definitely have to put up with them and do them anyway.
But how can you write about things that don’t interest you, and things you probably would never write about to begin with? What if you needed to write an article about something but don’t know where to start?
Well, I’ve been there. In fact I’m still pretty constantly there. So what do I do when I’m in those situations? Here are some really quick tips.
Eliminate Emotion from the Equation
The three E’s! If you need to write an article it has to be impartial and unbiased, unless it was otherwise requested to have some sort of a bias. If you want to be able to write about a topic that you hate or are not particularly fond of, then you will have to turn off your feelings about it and just write, write, write.
Of course this might lead to a lack of inspiration, but you will have to work through that. Eventually you’ll get used to writing about other topics. But if you want to be professional, then you will have to do some…
Research, Research, Research
The foundation of any sort of writing should be a good deal of research. You want your writing to be credible. And of course you want it to make sense.
This is especially true if your article if meant to be published on some sort of a paper, newsletter, or whatever else publication (or web site) there may be.
A published article is open to criticism, and you don’t want to give critics the chance to read your article and find something to criticise about it, just because you did not do your due diligence by researching. Depending on what you are writing, you may have to do more research than you might expect.
If this is for example a school assignment or for your publication then…yes, you’d definitely have to do a lot of research. You’ll want to be able to back your writing up with facts. If for example you want to be writing about kitchen design, then research about that!
One last thing—if you want to write about any topic, you should proofread when you are done. In fact not only when you are done—proof read every chance you get. Of course this applies for more than just articles.
You should proofread everything that you write. And when you finish, you should proofread, then let the article lie for a bit—get up, walk around, sleep on it—before you get back to looking at it with some new eyes.
This will help you to make any edits necessary, of course.
Everyone has dry spells. We all know that writing is affected by inspiration – if there’s no inspiration at all, then good luck with getting a single word out.
But if you can figure out how to get yourself inspired…
Well, then maybe you can finish that novel you’ve been putting off forever finally. You never know what you can accomplish when you are inspired after all.
Want to know how you can get inspired? Here’s a few things that I do to get inspired and stay that way.
Unless you’re one of those people who likes being around a mess, keeping your surroundings a dirty mess can become problematic. It can distract you, even your subconscious, preventing those words from flowing freely out as it should.
You don’t even have to keep everything spotless per se–just as long as you keep things free of clutter then you should be just fine. Before you know it that writer’s block will clear away and you’ll be able to write everything that comes to mind.
Next to having your surroundings clear and clutter free, there is something else you can do. This is just in case writing in your usual spots at home do not work anymore.
You can find a spot that inspires you and stay there when you really want to work through a particularly nasty case of writer’s block.
For me it’s either at a cafe with a good latte in hand, or at the library surrounded by books and quiet.
When I say that, I mean it literally! Work out. Break a sweat.
Think about your problem while you’re running or using that local park exercise equipment. A simple thing as working out can already help you to get all the inspiration that you need!
Next thing you know, you’re happy with your completed project.
If all the methods listed above still don’t work for you, sometimes the only thing you actually can do is rest and take some time away from that project that is giving you trouble.
Having some time away from it can give you a good and well needed new outlook that can really help you to work on your project when you are stuck somewhere and can’t get through a block.
But if that’s not enough, then when you feel like you are done resting, you can…
Visualisation is a method employed by many, not just by writers. You see actors, directors, designers, artists and so on and so forth, visualizing the result they want and how to get there.
This is a great way not only to get inspired, but also to get great new ideas that can turn your work from a flop to a hit to a best-seller! Just make sure that when you visualize, you have some paper and pen handy.
You don’t want to forget what you came up with after all!