5 Writing Tips Found by a Compulsive “Self-Improver”

pen and blank paper
“It’s going great! Thanks for asking!”
Today, needing to work and instead temporarily succumbing to the opiate of “improving my process”, I thankfully stumbled onto the the rare bunch of writing (or “content creation”, if you must) advice articles that didn’t reduce to that selfsame mental biofilm of aggregated crap about determination and outlining and capture. No, these were so good I would actually share them with others. It wasn’t always the case that the whole article went somewhere unexpected, but the useful part tended to illuminate the usual nonetheless; I’d say that’s a net positive. Quotes follow, along with where I found them.

1. Write Blind: “We have a tendency to judge our words when we can see them. While you’ll make plenty of typos using this method, it doesn’t matter. You can always go back and fix those. When you write blind, by turning off the screen, you let your words just flow. You don’t have time to react to what you’re seeing on the screen and the natural tendency to delete and doubt disappears.” Search Engine Journal

2. Don’t Be “Safe”: But safe writing does not translate into safety. Rather, it’s the other way around: The only way we can really be safe, is by doing the exact opposite, and putting ourselves in harm’s way. You have an opinion? For god’s sake, state it. Want to say something taboo? Say it. Hate the way something is traditionally done? Undo it. The Middle Finger Project

3. Don’t Write Lazily: They better demonstrate that they actually WANT MY BUSINESS. Want it enough that they’ll actually think about the message they’re sending me. Through their sentences. Through their words. Through each and every carefully placed motherf***ing punctuation mark. The Middle Finger Project, again (and here is a corollary to this point)

4. Extreme Show-Not-Tell: “Marcus would deprive things of their euphemisms – roasted meat is a dead animal and vintage wine is old, fermented grapes. The aim was to see these things as they really are, to ‘strip away the legend that encrusts them.’ We forget, I think, how often our perception…hurts us spiritually as well as strategically. It makes us weak and uncritical. ” Ryan Holiday

5. Inspiration & Quality Are Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: “Keep your pen aloof from inspiration, which it will then attract with magnetic power. The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. Speech conquers thought, but writing commands it.” Literary theorist Walter Benjamin, by way of Brain Pickings

Those didn’t strike me as intolerable rehashings. I hope they give you some new ideas too.

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