On January 29, 2022, Kasie and Rex finished up the “How to Write” topic with these new resources. Here are the show notes:
Theme for the day
The Writing Process – part two or “continued”
- What I’ve Learned (Joanna Penn edition)
- Rules we blatantly ignore
- Becoming a better writer by doing
We took on the writing process last week as if it were something that can be universally taught and followed to critical and commercial (and financial!) success. But we all know (con’t we?) that there’s no such thing as the guaranteed path.
In entrepreneurship, we encourage founders to tell their stories so we can see all the millions of ways people come into ownership and no two stories are the same. And writing is the same. Everyone does their thing differently and so hearing a bunch of stories is a great way to stay encouraged.
That said, I found this awesome Joanna Penn blog with some “what I’ve learned” and thought we could riff on that. These are things she’s learned from being an authorprenuer for a decade and I think they’re relevant to those mid-stride authors like us and maybe even a little surprising and encouraging.
- When you get bored or things feel a little stale, hang on a bit longer. Things will change, and you will, too.
- You can keep a mature author business going with just a few consistent actions.
- Writing books
- Email marketing (grow your list!)
- Other things?
- You don’t have to grow your business.
- Some projects are meaningful even if they’re not profitable
- Some projects are FUN and this work should be fun
Last week we worked this list of how to become a better writer so we’re picking it back up this week and we’ll offer some thoughts on each item:
- Write what inspires you.
- Establish a writing routine and stick to it.
- Become an avid reader.
- Start small.
- Write, write, write.
- See yourself as a writer.
- Become a ferocious self-editor.
- Join a writers critique group.
- Master the craft.
- Grab your reader from the get-go.
- Search and destroy passive voice.
- Use powerful verbs. Avoid adverbs.
- Always think reader-first.
- See Writer’s Block for the myth it is.
- Listen to the experts.
- Be direct in your writing – clear and concise, lose filler words, say exactly what you mean in the most direct way possible
- Choose your words wisely – use the right word for the meaning you’re trying to convey.
- Short sentences are more powerful than long ones – yes? No? When do you vary the length and for what purpose?
- Write short paragraphs – this is especially important in digital media
- Always use the active voice – this is one of a writing teacher’s favorite things to say without ever explaining what the “Active voice” actually means; from the link above: “With the active voice, the subject is doing something, which is more exciting than the passive voice…”
- Review and edit your work – revise (first), edit (second), proofread (third)
- Use a natural, conversational tone – write how you talk. Is that a thing?
- Read famous authors – not sure why “famous” is the adjective here, but certainly reading accomplished authors, quality work, will improve your own work. But reading at all is a good start to becoming a better writer.
Here’s a different list of 15 things you can do to become a better writer (from Grammarly):
- Make sure you’re clear on the concepts you’re writing about – some “fiction” concepts include: character, character arc, character’s goal, antagonist, obstacles, setting, etc.
- If the message is complex, outline it – so have a plan.
- Anticipate your reader’s questions – what do they need to know? What do they want to know? Are those things the same? Are the questions distracting from the story?
- Don’t over explain – give what we need to know when we need to know it
- Tighten your writing with these specific steps:
- Reduce the prepositional phrases
- Eliminate filler words and phrases
- Don’t pad weak verbs with adjectives
- Make your writing more conversational with these specific steps:
- Stick with simple words – not jargon or academic terms
- Use contractions
- Try transcribing yourself
- Throw out the grammar rule book (within reason) – see appropriate use of fragments
- Keep sentences simple
- Read aloud for revision and editing
- Put your personality in there – yes! Cuss words!
- Practice, practice, practice
And really, that’s all this episode is about, isn’t it? Just keep writing. The more you write the better you get. Submit your stuff and get rejected. Revise your stuff and submit again. Read out loud to an audience that wants to hear you. Just keep working the machine, folks. That’s all this writing thing is. It’s just a machine.