Alice Osborn

Write from the Inside Out

How To Be An Effective Writer

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012

How To Be An Effective Writer
  1. 1. Show Up! And want to make it as a writer. This means don’t talk about being a writer – actually sit down in that chair and write! You have to want it so that it takes over everything else! Sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice your social life and your sleep in order to get all of your writing work accomplished.

     

    • Show up at the same place every day—say 8am and start writing
    • Bring an object with you that’s your writing object. It could be a hat, socks, scarf, T-shirt, Dollar Store Olympic medal. When you wear this object, your brain will kick into gear that YOU need to write
    • Vary your workplaces: for instance, only check email in your kitchen, only write your blogs at the coffee shop where you know the Internet is spotty or even better, write outside in the park with no Internet.
    • Time yourself—at least write for 20 min. The hope is that you’ll go longer.

 

  1. Figure out what your goals are. Do you want to be accepted in an MFA program? Write a novel? Be a full-time freelance writer? Be a creative writing teacher?

 

  1. Invest in yourself with a good computer, and with go to conferences, classes/workshops to keep developing professionally as a writer. Read “how to write” books and books within your genre. Hire a writing coach and do your homework. You need to put some skin in the game and when you spend $$ on yourself, you’ll know you’re a “real” writer.

 

And When You’re Working On Your Fiction and Nonfiction:

 

  • consider your voice and audience
  • find the focus of your piece
  • add details
  • add personal reflection
  • give yourself a tough sentence inspection

 

All of these bullets are broken down below:

 

  • Consider your voice and audience — Who is your audience and have you used the right language and tone to fit this audience?— reading your work out loud determines if your voice is too casual or too formal for the piece.  You should also note if you shift from past to present tense or if your voice changes from the beginning to the end of the piece. Tone = author’s attitude towards the audience/Mood = author’s attitude towards the subject

 

  • Find your focus of your topic – don’t go off on a tangent and make sure your piece doesn’t have a split focus (it could be two separate pieces instead of one) Check your logic and make sure you’re not jumping to conclusions for the reader

 

  • Add details using concrete description or figurative language (a metaphor or simile to compare different objects) Adding details gives the reader the sense of being there with you, which makes the story come alive. Also, details make the personal universal. Applies more to creative writers, but if you talk about a tree, give the reader the name of the tree, along with giving naming flowers, cities, stores, clothing, food, drinks, etc.

 

  • Add your own personal reflection so your audience can better relate to you as a reader, which will make them want to continue reading. There’s no substitute for using your own experience in your work to build credibility and trust. It’s OK to show some vulnerability with your audience.

 

  • Give yourself a tough sentence inspection with sentence-order concerns — Examine your writing at the sentence level to check for grammar, punctuation, word choice and style.  Take your time and read your paper out loud to catch mistakes and awkward phrasing.  Choppy sentences need to be combined with a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet or so) and they should be varied between long and short.  All of the “to be” verb forms produce weaker writing and should be replaced with stronger verbs along with (same with “there are” and “there is” constructions, although having a few “to be” verbs in your work is necessary.  Trim the fat off of any words that are vague or redundant, such as “interesting” and “meaningful” and writing “very unique” or “past history.”  Watch out for over using speech qualifiers such as “surely,” “just,” “really,” and “very.” Also check to see if you’ve used enough transitions such as “however,” “although,” “on the other hand,” “similarly,” etc. As an editor, I see writers favoring at least one of these “non words.” I need to watch how much I say “just”!

 

 Also consider:

  • Beginning/Ending Lines — These are often the most difficult, yet they are the most important since the beginning line is your reader’s first impression.  Do your first lines drag, yet your story picks up the pace in the second paragraph?  You may need to cut the first paragraph and jump to the second.  Or perhaps, you can start your first paragraph with a short scene that shows, rather than tells.  For the ending line, try to end on an image or try to connect the ending with the beginning, so that you make a frame for your piece.

 

  • Larger-order concerns — These include giving enough examples and detailed descriptions, while achieving balance with your points. Also check to see if you’ve used enough transitions.

 

Your Turn:

 

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