A Better Answer to Writing Well

Can we all agree to stop the “write more” mantra? It’s not enough.

Source: Unsplash / Edited by AZ

Popular opinion around here tends to push a particular technique:

“Write more! Write every hour, everyday, no matter what — publish always. Write here, write there, just write write write. Then you’ll be successful.”

Okay, I played that out just a teensy bit. I bet you’ve caught wind of an article preaching that, though. Sometimes they’re quite convincing; some people really believe the key to writing well is based on frequency.

Which is fine.

That may work for some. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

However, I’m here to assure you, writing more is not the answer to writing at a high level.

Flaws & Potholes

I’ll admit: Writing more will help you. I did a 30-Day writing challenge once. It was good for me as a writer — I actually boast about it here.

So, why am I denouncing it now? Aren’t I being hypocritical?

“More” is not the ultimate answer. Many people act like it is, like it’s the only solution.

It’s not.

Alternatives

So, what’s my rebuttal? What’s a better answer to writing well? Let me to throw this at you:

It’s not about how often you write… It’s more about what you say and how you say it.

I could be real mysterious and leave on that line… but I won’t.

Here are several (other) ideas to help you become a better writer:

Source: Unsplash

1.) Topics. You know what’s better than writing every single day for the next year? Writing something once people actually care to read about.

I could publish on Medium 10 times a day if I want to. Seriously. I could sit in my room, look around, find a physical object and start writing about it — what it is, where I got it, why I like it.

Bang.

That’s cake work. I could crank out 300–500 words around that, no problem… but there would be a problem. No one gives a damn about my 7th-grade participation trophy collecting dust.

Even with all that “frequency” and publishing every day, it wouldn’t matter.

Focus on “what you say.”

The themes and talking points you base your writing around will advantage you greatly.

So, what makes for an awesome topic?

Feelings. Lessons. Experiences. Knowledge.

I picked those four words because great stories usually incorporate a few of them at a time. People read to bring in these kinds of ideas; we’re inherently drawn to emotion, unorthodox encounters, and entertaining information.

Find ways to sprinkle these components in your writing and you’re well on your way to improvement.

2.) Fundamentals. I often talk about the power of punctuation, grammar, and word choice. I know, I know, it’s miserably boring — I guarantee someone bailed on this article upon reading that sentence.

Nevertheless…

Fundamentals make all the difference in “how you say it.”

If you’re a new writer, I highly recommend you invest in perfecting your technical skills; or at least try shaping them up. Learn how to use a comma, understand spacing, pay attention to word placement.

Writing more will not teach you these things.

You’ve got to employ some responsibility as a writer, go after it, and learn on your own.

I’ll make it easy for you…

Read this book: Business Writing for Dummies by Natalie Canavor.

This book alone will teach you an incredible amount of information about sound writing. It goes well-beyond fundamental aspects; the latter chapters talk about writing in the digital age and blogging.

I cannot boast about it enough.

Read it.

3.) Relate Appeal. In addition to topic selection, there’s one other crucial element you can add into your copy: be relatable.

People are drawn to voices they recognize and coincide with.

If you look up the definition of “relate,” you’ll find the word connection. Connection is something you should continuously work to establish as a writer. When readers can get a sense of who you are, how you think, and what you do, that’s when a relationship starts to form.

To me, this is the paramount goal as a communicator — to instill real feelings of friendship and accord with others.

Everything after this becomes easier.

So, how do you write in a relatable manner? Well, that’s a decision you make… I’m not you, so it’s hard to say. But I can offer some general insight.

Go deeper with your lines of thinking; allow your personality to prevail.

Let’s say you’re telling a story about a conversation you had while at a restaurant. Immediately, you can dive further into this scenario.

Where did you eat? Who were you with? What did you order?

Maybe it was a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant — tell the audience that! Right off the bat, that adds a layer of character to the story. It shows you’re a conventional person and willing to eat junk food every once in a while.

Offer readers something relateable.

Go deeper.

4.) Branding. You really wanna take your writing to a new level? Time to hone-in on your marketing skills.

Branding is all about how you present a product — it’s about the message you project at the outset. In this case, your product is an article (or story). And the first thing people come in contact with? Your title.

You’ve got to get the title right.

How?

Research effective titling. Use a headline analyzer. Observe the experts. Get. this. right. Headings are a massive part of the battle in online-writing. I wish I had more advice, but I’m still learning titles myself.

The next branding component of your article? Pictures. Use them! You should include a graphic at the top of your article every single time. As visual creatures, our eyes need something to chew on.

Use stock images from Pixabay or Unsplash.

It’s a no-brainer.

And finally…

The climax of your branding strategy comes down to one last thing: YOU.

Yes, you are the most important product on display at all times.

Your profile pic and bio create your personal brand. In the grand scheme of your narrative, these two do the small talk — their job is to represent and entice others to take a closer look at you.

News flash: Your profile picture should be a picture of you.

Weird, I know.

It shouldn’t be a picture of a tree or cartoon. It’s not a blurry quote. It’s definitely not the default image you begin with. It should be a photo of your face.

That is who you are.

When it comes to your bio, I have one piece of advice:

Be original and honest.

Always keep branding in mind… it’s the tale you tell before others read any of your writing.

Complex Game

Do you see why the “write more” motto is insufficient?

It’s one way, but it’s not the way. There are so many other areas and techniques that play into being an effective writer.

Frequency is not a fix-all.

So, remember these:

  • Topic selection
  • Fundamentals
  • Relate Appeal
  • Branding

What are some other methods you use to enhance your writing?

- AZ

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.

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