Every New Year is the opportunity to shift out of old habits and faith forward a new you.
This is a regular routine for me. I love the challenge but the older I get the harder this becomes. At 64 years old the most difficult part is the repetition required to remember and inculcate what you are studying. Yes, do it while you are young. I decided to start my writing career at the age of 62. Writing is hard work. Far harder than I ever realized.
Thirty years ago, I set a goal to write and publish books for the last 10–15 years of my life. The goal was noble. Setting the goal was more comfortable than reaching it. After writing a few articles, I realized that I was way over my head. I could write words but lacked the expertise to express those thoughts clearly to others.
My success in other fields gave me quick access to high-level places to send my articles. Sites like Fox News and others. So, my writing work went straight up to 50,000 feet, but my ability was 5,000 feet level. The editors quickly informed me that my work needed better editing, more work, and more creativity. Yes, I wrote a few useful articles. My potential was obvious, but I lacked the consistency of well written publishable articles.
I am 22 months into my learning experience, and I continue to learn valuable lessons from great teachers and my editors, and friends. My only wish is that I would have started my learning curve 20 years earlier.
So here are my suggestions for new writers.
Learn the basics
This sounds simple but learning some writing basics is the key to writing success. For instance, I never knew the difference between passive tone and active voice. My natural tendency was to write passive voice. For me, sticky sentences and passive adverbs are painfully natural.
Passive voice is still a problem for me. Passive sentences focus on the results, and active voice focuses on the action.
Allow me to give an example.
Mistakes have been made by Tom (passive).
Tom made some mistakes (active).
This illustration seems simple, but it was my first writing lesson. The lesson was simple but profound in taking my writing to a new level. There is so much to learn.
Learning to write does not take a few years. It takes a lifetime.
Find resources. I was unaware of the massive amount of writing resources, coaches, and trainers available. The internet offers multiple websites focused on improving personal and writing skills. These sites provide the educational, emotional, and technical sides of writing.
Enroll in a writing or blogging class. I jumped on the internet and found someone you might know. His name is Jeff Goins. Jeff’s transparency is contagious. He is successful and humble and precisely what I needed.
I enrolled in two of Jeff’s classes. In my search to learn more, I found Medium. I had never heard of Medium and knew nothing about Medium. Medium is a world of its own. The site has great writers, stupendous articles, excellent coaches, and Medium stoked the fire of my writing goals.
Purchase writing software. I started with the free version of Grammarly. The free version is adequate and extremely user-friendly.
I eventually settled with the professional version of Pro-Writing Aid. The lifetime subscription is the best buy.
Write. Write, and write some more. The greatest teacher is writing. The more you write, the better you become. A daily writing habit is a priority in developing your skills.
Shaunta Grimes says, “Move your story forward by even a few words every single day, and you’ll be surprised by what happens. Or maybe not, since what will happen is that you’ll write a book. Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit is a great guide to help you create your daily writing habit.”
Join a writing challenge. This step helped me with creativity and forced me to write on topics I did not prefer.
- Enhances my creativity
- Develops writing habits
- Adds focus
- Pushes me out of my comfort zones
- Increases my learning
- Enhances my research
- Perfects my craft
Writing is more than hard work; it is excruciating work. But the reward is measureless.
Nicole Shepherd says, “writing well and improving our craft requires bad first drafts, rewriting, deleting, editing and proofreading, often in several iterations, until an article worth reading emerges.”
Writing requires persistence and resilience.
Growing old is never an option to stop learning.
Becoming a better writer is the best option, so I’ll choose that.
I hope you will too.
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