How to Write Well (Even if You’re Not a Natural)

Writing is an intimidating process for most people. There’s a popular illusion that good writing is reserved for those people who have dedicated their educations to it. Many potentially great writers are turned off by writing because they hated English class in high school or they haven’t had the opportunity to hone their writing skills. Continue reading

The Best Place to Write

Writers can write anywhere, right? Some writers create their best work in front of a computer keyboard positioned on a desk in their home or office; other writers need paper, pen and the buzz of a coffee shop; still others are comfortable with their laptop or tablet on the couch or in a cozy nook of their homes. I always had a vision of creative types writing in their Moleskine books at the local coffee shop or elsewhere in public. This stereotype is accurate here on the North Coast—the coffee shops I’ve been to are full of people scribbling away in their notebooks. If you’re a creative writer, these are great places to craft character sketches; there are certainly characters poking around Eureka and Arcata any day of the week. However, if you’re a marketing writer, you have no real need to get out to the coffee shops to write, unless you really want to.

Working from home has allowed me to explore where I do my best work. The house we’re renting has this great, comfy seating nook that overlooks our backyard. However, I just couldn’t get comfortable enough to write there. I moved to the kitchen table, where bright light streams in during the afternoon. While this was a great place to write when the house is empty, it left me in the sight of my 1-year old, which made him think that it was okay to distract me with his cute little face.

So, now I’m in the office/guest room, typing on a laptop that sits on a desk we were given by friends of ours. It’s not a shabby place to write—I have two windows; one overlooks the backyard, the other overlooks the street. It’s quiet with a door that closes to keep me out of sight of curious toddlers. And I get some of my best work done here, sitting upright and typing ergonomically at my desk. Sometimes tradition isn’t always bad.

Where’s your favorite place to write? Do you notice a difference writing in different places?

Is There A “Best” Time of Day To Write?

Most writers swear that they write best at a certain time of day. In Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, most writers included in the book chose the morning as the best time to write, often beginning around 8am (after breakfast) and stopping at noon. After lunch and/or a walk, many picked up where they left off and wrote for a few hours in the afternoon. Continue reading

Don’t let a great idea leave your grasp; write it down!

How many of your best writing ideas come to you when you’re in the shower, running errands or working on something else? How many times have you lost a great idea because you thought, “I don’t have to write it down. I’ve got a memory like a steel trap.” If your steel  trap has become  more of a sieve, you need a notebook.
 
A great idea can strike at any time. I often get my best ideas in the blurry haze of waking up in the morning or when working on a totally unrelated project.
 
A notebook or journal keeps your ideas in order. It’s easy to jot down your ideas, or even fragments of ideas, to revisit later when you have a chance. The more detail you give, the easier it will be to remember it.
 
Keep in a notebook or journal is effective whether you’re writing the Great American Novel or thinking of a catchy tagline or hook for marketing copy.
 
What to write:
Character sketches—I’ve met some real characters in life, ones who I think would make really great characters in a novel. Since I haven’t gotten around to writing the novel yet, I don’t want to let the quirks of these folks to fade away. Writing down a few notes will refresh my memory when It comes time to sit down and write.
Great sentences—How many times have you thought of a fantastic sentence or beginning of a piece and thought, “I’ll have to use that one day.” If you write it down, you can.
Taglines—Ditto for taglines. If you think of something catchy, don’t let it slip away.
Plotlines—You may not be ready to write a short story or start your novel now, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t outline it or write down its basic plot.