Make it Write: A Little Writing Advice from a Little Lady Writer
I was born to write. No one can ever tell me differently. But that doesn’t always mean I’ve been really good at it. Sometimes, I look back at some of my old writing, and I cringe. I mean, I actually make up my face and think “What the hell was I thinking?” It happens less often now because I found my magic formula. Well, it’s less magic, and more of a careful practice, but it works. I’ve managed to narrow down that formula to five tips based on my best successes and greatest failures. Maybe they’ll help you out too:
The thesaurus is not your friend
It’s more like a frenemy. It offers up all these shiny five dollar words to spruce up your writing and make you sound smart and sophisticated. The problem is, not all synonyms are made equally. Context matters. Before you plug in that word you found on thesaurus.com or Microsoft Word, be absolutely sure it means the same thing as the word you’re replacing. Choose the wrong word, and your readers will be going “Huh?!” instead of “Yassss!” and that’s not what you want. A short word that fits just right will always pack more of a punch than a long one that doesn’t belong.
I’ve always been the kind of writer than writes from the heart. I can’t help it. It’s who I am. Sometimes that means putting my most vulnerable moments out there for people to look at. I won’t lie, it’s terrifying. But you know what? That’s what people respond to. Honestly sells. People love to feel like they’re being let in on a secret. They also like to know that they’re not the only person going through whatever struggle their battling. I’m not saying put all your business out there. I don’t. But keep it real and people will ride with you.
Stay in your lane
There’s nothing worse than someone talking out of their ass on a subject they know nothing about. They’re guaranteed to make mistakes, say something offensive or just be outright wrong. Your best bet is always to write about what you know. You’ve got a whole life to pull inspiration from. Write about yourself, your experiences and your passions. You can’t screw that up. And if you’re going to venture into unfamiliar territories with your writing, do your research. Once you’ve been labelled ignorant, it’s a tough reputation to shake. Don’t risk it.
Live a little, read a lot
This is how you widen that lane I was talking about. The more you read, the more you know, the more you have to write about. Read everything you can get your hands on. Dive into the things that interest you. Fill your head up with words and ideas. You can’t produce good writing if you don’t engage with good writing regularly. Then when you get your nose out of those books and magazines, get outside and live your life. Take risks, have adventures, do the things on your bucket list. That'll give you plenty to write about.
Write for you
Remember after the success of Twilight, there were six bajillion stories about vampires in every book store? The bandwagon was so full, the wheels were squealing under the weight. It’s so tempting to jump on the hottest trend and write what’s hot and selling. But if that’s not your story, don’t force it. You’ll just sound inauthentic. If a topic is huge and it fits in your wheelhouse, by all means, take it on. There’s nothing wrong with doing what’s relevant, but only if it makes sense for you. You should be writing because you have stories to tell and points to make. Don’t ever let a trend derail you from your purpose.
I'd love to hear what tips and pointers keep your words flowing and your readers clicking. Share in the comments!