Writing can be scary, isn’t it?—Staring at a blank paper or screen without knowing where to start or what to write. The saddening aspect is that you must write because you’re a writer or aspiring to become one. At times, you don’t have a topic and even when you do, you know nothing about it.
Many a time, this happens for 3 consecutive days—you already picked up your writing materials (pen & paper, tablet, phone or PC) to write only to realize there’s nothing to write.
It becomes worse if you’re writing for the first time—you saw a competition online with enticing gifts for the first 3 positions and bingo, you want to put in.
“After all, I had an “A” in English language”; you muttered to yourself. Then you started, you tried so hard to put down introduction but you’re still at it in a week.
You’re almost through with your introduction until one night when you slept and woke up to realize all you wrote were out of line. It wasn’t catchy enough and guess what? You erased it all—back to step zero.
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Did I mention I wasn’t a fan of writing before now? Perhaps, not entirely. I post on social medias and end up with a few likes. Yes!
But I mean real writing, nothing personal. Having to sit down to write 1000 words and above? Nah Nah Nah! Am not a fan. I simply can’t!
But these days, I write 1000 words at a sitting without even feeling like I’ve written anything. Writing is fantastic and lovely, especially when you know you’re writing to create value. Well, enough of all these stories, do you want to be a great writer? Here are 10 top secrets of great writers to learn from:
#1. They started somewhere
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started”—Mark Twain. Every writer started somewhere, some started early and some others, late. The major secret is starting.
This also extends to your write-up. It’s not compulsory to start with the introduction. If the introduction isn’t coming, start by laying out your points (the body) or go ahead to the conclusion. “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”—Anne Lamott.
#2. They are not scared of mistakes
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”—Albert Einstein. Great people are not scared of making mistakes, they embrace mistakes instead. And that’s what makes them great.
The same applies to writing, to become great, don’t be scared of making mistakes. Ditch the fear of perfection, it’s never gonna help you. “If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”—Margaret Atwood.
#3. They set a target
Writing can be cumbersome and frustrating but the moment you take it seriously, you’re half way there. One of the ways to take it seriously is by setting a target (how many words per day or week).
However, your target must be realistic. (300-500 words) daily is ideal for a beginner.
#4. They don’t take breaks
“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.”—Gerald Brenan. Yes, they keep writing. Regardless of whether writing is your hobby or not, the moment you want to make a living with it, it becomes a job.
And as an entrepreneur/worker, you don’t take breaks till your business/job is firmly erected.
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#5. They do research
“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism if you steal from many its research.”—Wilson Mizner. A vital part of writing is research.
Many a time, there’s need to research more into your topic. Even if you’re experienced on the topic, others opinion of the topic is worth your attention.”The original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.”—Chateaubriand
#6. They shun distractions
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”—Thomas Mann. As I’ve said before, writing can be cumbersome and frustrating, especially due to distractions.
Whenever you need to write, staying off the internet, switching off your phone or PC, staying off the beach and isolating yourself is a way to avoid distractions.
However, distraction varies in individuals. Find out what distracts you and avoid it whenever you need to write.
#7. They read rigorously
“The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.—Ernest GainesEasy reading is damn hard writing.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Reading engages your imagination which improves your innovative writing skills. Read and read and read so you can write and write and write and write and write. They both work hand in hand.
#8. There is always a first draft
It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.”—Will Shetterly. This is partially the same as starting somewhere.
To every skyrocketed writing, there is a first draft. Even dumb writings have a first draft.
#9. They don’t quit
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”—Richard Bach. Obviously, quitters are losers.
Keep pushing and you’d definitely get there someday. It’s a matter of how soon you’d get there never if you’d get there.
#10. They are great editors (or they employ one)
Editing is an indispensable part of writing. A good write-up becomes better when properly edited. That’s why most great writers employ editors.
If you’re your own editor, it’s better to leave your draft for a few days before editing. This freshens up the brain to highlight mistakes more easily than when edited immediately. That works for me, it may be different for you. Whichever way, nurture your editing skills or employ an editor.
Understanding the top secrets of a profession (writing in this case) is a 2-way weapon. In a near future, it’s either you regret neglecting these powerful secrets or be happy you didn’t let them slip. I am sure you’d be among the happy ones. Cheers!