The only secret

Often, the purpose of writing the first draft is to tell yourself the story. By the time you finish, you should have a very good idea of what you want to say in your story. Rewriting is the time for clarifying your message.

Some of the best writing advice I’ve heard is to “Mean what you say, and say what you mean.” Using the correct words to convey your message as clearly and effectively as possible is important because it gives your reader the best reading experience.

We are Cups

What a wonderful metaphor! The first sentence appealed to me just as much as the second. It’s important to ensure that we are ‘constantly and quietly being filled’. Otherwise, there’s no ‘beautiful stuff’ to be let out.

Workplace burnout is becoming so common that it was recently reclassified by the World Health Organization as an occupational syndrome. Well, we’ve all known about it for a long time. So, how do we ensure that we don’t get to that stage? By constantly and quietly filling our ‘cup’.

Read regularly. Read what you wish you had written. Read the kind of books you want to write when you are as wildly succesful as in your dreams. Read about subjects that make you passionate, the passions that drive your writing. Read for the joy of it, read for the words, read for the love of it.

Keep learning. Go through those writing books in your bookcase or ereader. No matter how many times I’ve read mine, I always learn something new. Book into webinars, seminars, conferences. Get together with other writers. Learning something new feeds my passion.

Make a regular date with yourself to do what makes you happy. Whether it’s going out to the movies, art gallery, markets, dinner, coffee with friends, find things that make you happy and fill that cup.

Just as importantly, let all that beautiful stuff come pouring out. Every writer has their own unique writing system and style. Try the suggestions that work for others, take what works for you and discard the rest. Don’t give up. Keep going until you find what works for you.

Imbue Words With Power

In all aspects of my life I firmly believe I can always learn something from everybody if I keep my eyes open and my mind receptive to learning. Nowhere it this more true than when it comes to writing and editing. Writing is an art which must be learned and practiced.

How do we imbue our words with power? By knowing what we want to say and using the most powerful words in our vocabulary to say it. Pare your prose down to the bare minimum required to convey your message. Read, read, read and analyse what you read, whether to learn how to write powerfully, or how to avoid weakening your words. Strengthen your vocabulary and your writing skills.

Learn from other writers, join local writer’s groups, state, national or international associations, research whatever you need to in reputable books, do courses, attend seminars and conferences. Invest in yourself and your art, then put it all into practice.

Write like you’re in love

Don’t you just love this advice? Having problems with your writing? Do whatever it takes to fall back in love with your story. Put your heart and soul into it. There’s nothing like it.

That’s why it’s so hard to cut into the story you love so much. It truly is like killing your darlings as William Faulkner advised. Editing requires a different mindset. Rather than your heart, your head and your intellect must be in charge.

To show or to tell

There is a time for showing and a time for telling in writing. This is the best explanation for the effect on the reader of each of these methods of conveying information to your reader.

Consider what effect you wish to create in your reader when making the decision whether you ought to show or tell.