7 Habits for the Aspiring Writer

You have something to say to the world.

I wrote this post last year and am posting again. I don’t do this with all of my posts but some are worthy of it. I hope you enjoy!

What you have to tell the world may sound similar to what others are saying, or what has already been said, but no one can SAY it like you can.

Your voice–not just the sound of it–is comprised of thoughts, personality, values, upbringing, experience, and a certain tonality that belongs completely to you.  It’s as unique as a fingerprint.  The sad thing is that many people will die never finding that voice.  Even if they find it most will never tell the world what only they can say.

God will never expect you to be someone else but He does expect you to be the you He created.  With that said, not everyone is going to be a writer.  Finding your voice doesn’t limit you to writing, which is just one mode of communication, but if you landed here you may have some remote interest in writing and I want to help.

I’ve heard many people say, “Just write for you.”  While I understand what is usually meant by that–stay true to yourself, don’t sell out–speaking to yourself alone is a lonely and shortsighted form of communication.  Why would you say anything so only you benefit?  You don’t have to be Christian to understand and believe this.

As a Christian I believe that God has gifted us to primarily bring Him glory, but secondly to serve others.  Writing solely for self is kind of like an apple farmer eating all the proceeds of the orchard himself.  While the farmer should eat from his own produce, there’s no sense in letting the fruit not eaten go bad.  Doing so is foreign to the teachings of the Bible.  God expects ALL of it to be given away to others which in turn fulfills the giver as well.

My wife and I read a helpful little book to our kids about this called “Have you Filled a Bucket Today?  It would make a great gift for Christmas!

So you want to be a writer…

I hope what I have to offer motivates you to become a better writer.  Truthfully, it is very time-consuming if you want to do it well.  Depending on what you want to do as a writer, there may be some schooling (or some other next step) that is necessary, but before we get that far, let’s just get you writing.  Writing doesn’t have to be done for profit, but in order to become a good writer worthy of some wage, you have to develop certain habits.

Here are a few tips on forming those daily habits.

1. 50 words = a paragraph

Can’t think of anything?  Go to a news site and read the first headline you see, then before you read the rest of the article, write a plausible paragraph on what you think might have happened.  Here’s an article on some really great writing prompts.  Here are a few of my own based on what the article called for.

2. 400 words = a page

If this seems like a lot, you may question whether or not being a writer is for you.  Writing a page a day should be the bare minimum whether you feel up to it or not.  Reflecting is a great way to start finding the inspiration hidden in the little things of life.  Every night before you go to bed have a notebook ready to fill in what happened that day.  You’d be surprised how much happens in a day that is book worthy!

3. 300 pages = a manuscript

Grad school was good for me personally in regard to writing for length.  I hated it at first but it was great discipline in writing articles, taking notes in class, partaking in discussion boards, responding to other’s work, and writing research papers.  You don’t need to enroll in a master’s program to gain this discipline though.  Just commit to write everyday and you’ll get to a point when it doesn’t shut off!

4. Write every day = a habit

Whether this is compiling reflections or posting blogs, make writing a part of your everyday life.  If you have a blog you can tell others about your day because you’re the only one that had a day exactly like it.  People are genuinely interested in candor if you’re willing to share.  A blog I follow called Harsh Reality by the Opinionated Man does this very well in a segment simply called “Daily“.  I love his humor and consistency!

5. Rewrite and check grammar/spelling = better writing

Ther’s n0tHig more frustrrating than finding mispelinghs n’ grammaour mistaKes in others pulished worx.  You may be a great writer but your grammar and spelling will speak for you without your knowledge or permission.  You don’t need to hire an editor.  Most writing platforms have spelling and grammar check but copy and paste it into Word or Google Docs to be safe.  It’s the easiest and cheapest form of security there is.

6. Allowing comments = feedback

Aside from spell-checking, asking people to critique your stuff is the best free service you’ll get.  People by nature want to criticize, so finding them is not hard.  Anyone I’ve asked about reading something I wrote for the sole purpose of critique has never been turned down.  Don’t ask the people you know will be nice because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Grow a pair and ask people you know will give you solid feedback.  You’ll be glad you did!  Heck!  We will ALL be glad you did!

7. Reading when not writing = research, inspiration, and overall mind expansion

My prayers are short, wooden, and uninspired if I’ve not been reading Scripture.  When I read the Bible, part of it stays with me and I end up praying back to God what I’m meditating on at the moment.  Reading is no different.  You write from your most recent or enduring inspiration.

I hope that this list has been a source of encouragement and inspiration to you.  I’d love to hear your comments, feedback, and snide remarks!

2 thoughts on “7 Habits for the Aspiring Writer

  1. About the inviting criticism, I always have my wife review what I write. While she was in the rehab center, I read to her. If it doesn’t sound good coming out of your mouth, you might need to edit the composition. Written feedback is good, but verbal feedback is even better. It takes a bit of bravery though. By the way, she is home now and doing better.

    Liked by 1 person

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