Writing Tips and Tricks.

Last Update: March 14, 2015

The trick to writing is to understand that your brain has two very different functions when it writes. One function is the creative function. The other function is the editing function, the critic.

If you try to write a first draft with the critic, you won't get anywhere. Nothing is good enough for the critic when you're starting. So, you just have to ignore that part of our brain until you have an abundance of words on paper.

It's important to brainstorm on paper, just get the ideas out of your head. It doesn't matter what order they spill out, just get them down. Think of it as mentally vomiting. At this point, you're basically having your own private brainstorm. It's important to be as relaxed as possible. A tense mind will not be creative. Tension triggers the fight or flight mechanism of the brain, which actually shuts down the higher function of creative thought.

While brainstorming an article do not censor anything. Very often, bad ideas lead to good ideas and if you censor the bad idea, you'll never get the good. Sometimes, it helps to use paper and pen to brainstorm and get the ideas out.

If you don't have any ideas, search the internet for websites like yours and for related information. Use these to stimulate your imagination. Some ideas you may want to simply restate in your own words. When you have ideas, thoughts and information on paper, arrange them in a logical sequence. This is your outline. Now write the first draft, but still ignore the critic. Ignore punctuation. Ignore grammar. You only want a rough draft at this point.

Once you have a rough first draft complete, let the critic out of its cage and begin polishing and rewriting. Until you're comfortable writing, an article or blog post of 500 words is long enough. The first rule of persuasive writing is to be gentle and kind. Write in a tone as if you were speaking to a dear friend at the kitchen table.

Once you have your article nearly complete, write the first and last paragraph. The first paragraph will ideally foreshadow the contents of the article and also rouse curiosity. The last paragraph will restate the core idea of the article and end with the tone you wish the reader to remember.

For me, the last word on sentence structure, word usage, style and grammar is Strunk and White The Elements of Style. It's a tiny book and easy to master. I keep a copy near my desk as reference. If you follow the rules of Strunk and White, you'll write better than 80% of the people on the planet.

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boucherda Premium Plus
Very good input - thanks
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GaryHorton Premium
You're welcome.
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booklover2 Premium
that's usually how I do it too, but sometimes the writer's block appears and throws me for a bigger loop
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GaryHorton Premium
Yes, it still gets me too. And then, some days, like today, I just don't have the creative juice I need to write...
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booklover2 Premium
me too, but your article today is great!
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HelenpDoyle Premium
Great blog and fully agree. And it is not just for writing. When practising civil engineering, brainstorming was extremely important and using a broad mix of people additionally so. This way there was less wasted time than following one idea and finding out at the end of the process that it wouldn't work!

I just commented on a blog by MsMoneyHoney on commenting. Some of what I said was "...spelling, wrong words or work endings, grammar, too many commas etc drive me nuts. Sites should look and be polished. In Australia, at least, there are lots of people getting through education without being able to fully read or write. This is through no fault of theirs! A proposal has been put forth to give newly graduated teachers a literacy and numeracy test. And again this lack is due to past fails in the system. So I comment on the writing issues hopefully in a positive manner. And that is why I really appreciate it when this is reciprocated and the person I am commenting on has a profile that says where they are from. After all I don't speak foreign languages at all, so some non English speaking people do very well to write in English at all. These I compliment and encourage."

If you follow the procedure you outline then a lot of the problems with writing are found before publishing.

I often compile in Word and copy to WA when I am happy with the result. And often join Nathaniell in one more cup of coffee during the writing process.
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GaryHorton Premium
I've never brainstormed with a group but I can see how that would save a lot of time and heartache.

I'm amazed at how poorly some people with advanced degrees write, and it's not their fault. It's the educational system. Like you said, if the writer is not a native English speaker that's understandable. I wouldn't dare try to write in another language.

So does Nathaniell comment on what you write before you publish?
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HelenpDoyle Premium
Sometimes
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bsmith1222 Premium
Good writing. Most can't seem to get started so I think this will help.
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GaryHorton Premium
I hope so.
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Loes Premium
Thanks, great lead. I also have been told to end in the last paragraph with a question, to activate people to write a comment, Loes
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GaryHorton Premium
Great idea. I'll remember that!
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