At Content Academy we are looking to improve every day. To help you develop your writing skills we have identified 5 Writing Habits you can use straight away.
As we have said before there is a huge difference between writing and quality writing. While some will naturally be able to produce better content than others, writing is like many other things, a craft that can be learnt.
For many authors and bloggers writing is not something that came naturally to them, but through many hours of work and many hundreds, if not thousands of articles they were able to hone their skills and finally feel confident in their ability to curate beautiful pieces for their audience to read.
Of course the only way we as humans get better at any task is by practice, so certainly, while there is that fear that we may not be good enough to write pieces that should be published, it is kind of a catch 22 situation.
The only way we as writers and bloggers will get better is by writing and publishing our works and getting to see the reaction our audience has to them, all be it good or indeed bad.
So before you get into that self-doubting mode and feel the wanting to quit, don’t.
Push through the fear and the doubt and keep going and you will notice the improvements one article at a time.
There are however things you can do to get things going and make that progression from good content to great content a lot quicker, so here are my top five tips for writing habits to get into, which will bring your game on leaps and bounds.
Writing Habits: Tip #1 Read, Read, Read
I know that might sound a little counter-intuitive, I mean it is not even writing, but it is perhaps one of the most important things you can do, especially when you are starting out.
Make time in your day to read, whether it’s a book from a bestselling author, or a column from a respected journalist, either way, it is important to see how the best in the business do it.
I myself in the beginning spent time every day reading the works of some of the best sports journalists, this allowed me to not only see the language being used by them, but also how they told the story, how they broke it down and how they were able to put their own slant on the latest breaking news.
So find out who the best in the business are within your niche and read their content religiously. This will not only broaden your horizons when it comes to terminology and indeed vocabulary, but it shows you what the standard is and how you can get to it.
Writing Habits: Tip #2 Write Every day!
I have seen this listed in many places as the number one habit to get into in order to take your content to the next level and as you can see it very high on my list of habits to get into.
The biggest complaint I hear when I offer up this advice to authors and bloggers is that they don’t have time to write every day. However, the truth is, that at no point have I said that you must write for hours every day.
No, the truth is that even 10 minutes a day can help take you on leaps and bounds. Of course, the next question I inevitably get is, what do I write about?
Well, that my friend is up to you, but if you have an editorial calendar in place, as we suggested you should, then you will know what is coming down the pipeline and what you could be working on.
If you do not have anything in mind then it may take you a little longer than 10 minutes, but let me tell you this, the greatest in the world will not skip a day of writing for love nor money and they most certainly put more than 10 minutes aside to do so.
So the question is, how much do you really want to improve your writing and your content?
Writing Habits: Tip #3 Write Early
This is something that I absolutely swear by and one that, where possible, you should most certainly try. I will do the majority of my writing in the morning while I am at my most awake and my brain is at full capacity.
I am sure many of you have heard the principals behind it and certainly for those looking to make the most of their mornings you should check out HalElrod’s book “The Miracle Morning”.
Hemingway was a big advocate of writing early in the morning, as are many other prize-winning authors and there is a reason they do this.
You see our ability to create and our ability to make decisions and indeed our willpower is not infinite, it is, in fact, finite.
So as they day goes on our willpower begins to drain, our decision-making ability becomes such that we are likely to make the wrong decisions as the day goes on and certainly as the brain tires, inspiration or creativity begins to wain.
By taking the bull by the horns and getting to it as early as possible, you will find that not only will it become much easier, but there will be fewer edits and it will take less time to write.
Writing Habits: Tip #4: Turn off Everything that beeps
This may sound like the simplest of things to do but, you will be surprised at just how often an email notification, phone call or text message can interrupt the workflow.
Distractions can not only cause errors, but it has been well documented that once a person has been interrupted from a task it can take up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand and get back into full flow.
So the best way to avoid this is to turn off all notifications and put your phone on aeroplane mode until the task is completed in its entirety.
Writing Habits: Tip #5 Do not edit, no matter how much you want to!
Again this may sound like a fairly easy one, but be honest how often have you been writing an article and found yourself correcting those mistakes as you go?
We have all been guilty of this one, but as many successful authors and bloggers will tell you, do not edit while writing. It may seem insignificant, but much like our tip about notifications above, an edit can take you out of that flow and force your mind to refocus on the editing task instead of the writing task.
Thus articles can take longer to write, not only because of the constant interruptions caused by editing but also because editing kills your train of thought and once you stop, you will have to try and regain it, which as we now know can take some time.
So much like planning out your writing time in your editorial calendar, writing time is for writing, not for editing. Also, another reason for this is that once you realise that there are most definitely mistakes in the article you will be forced to go back and read it again and correct them.
However, should you opt to proofread as you go, you may feel that the article is good enough to publish and that you have caught all the mistakes.
But if years of writing and thousands of articles has taught me anything, it is that no matter how good you are, there will always be mistakes on your first draft and the sooner you accept that the better.
So when it comes to editing do that after, preferably at least 20 minutes after writing, longer if you can. Personally, I try and leave it at least 24 hours, that way not only will I have forgotten where the mistakes are, but the train of thought I had yesterday will have gone and I will able to read it with fresh eyes and make sure that I am still getting the intended message across.
So there you have it my top five writing habits to get into, some of course are easier than others, so pick and chose from them at will, but if you can incorporate all five into your routine, I guarantee you will notice the results in no time.
Let us know your results, have you implemented any of these? Or do you have any other habits that you swear by?