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The Secret to Better Writing is …

2012 November 13

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are. ~Somerset Maugham

How do you feel about writing?How do you feel about writing? Is it a necessary evil, an inescapable part of your work that you dread … or do you find ways to avoid the activity all together by proclaiming that you’re just not a writer?

Maybe it’s not so much the writing itself that causes your brain to freeze, but the fear of being ridiculed, the pressure of all the rules and having to create “awesome content!” each and every time you set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Possibly you enjoy writing, but choose to reserve the activity for your own pleasure, telling stories or keeping a journal; writing simply because you love the  self-discovery process, and the joy of finding just the right word. Or, maybe your dream is to  finally write that book that’s been percolating in your mind and heart, and to one day become a published author.

Regardless of your motivation, and whether you write for work or pleasure, you should know that writers are both born and made. While it is true that some are blessed with a natural talent, those who are not shouldn’t assume that writing is not for them, because, contrary to popular belief, you can improve. More importantly, you can learn to find greater enjoyment in the process.

How? In the same way that you can learn and improve any other skill, be it acting, woodwork, cookery, dancing – whatever, you can learn to be a writer and then to be a better writer. And I firmly believe that if the desire to write is there, so too is the ability.

The secret to better writing is … “practice.”

It’s true … regardless of your level of expertise, the only way to improve your writing is to keep writing and stretching yourself.

For those who struggle with writing, try this.  Just for awhile – forget the rules – forget hang-ups with punctuation, spelling, and grammar, forget the pressure of having to create a work of art, or awesome blog content … and simply commit to write whatever comes to mind for half an hour, every day, with one intention in mind … to begin strengthening your creative muscles. The rules and the skills are important to be sure, but to begin to fully appreciate how writing can enhance your life, first give yourself the freedom to focus only on expressing yourself.

And to get you started it just so happens, this Thursday, November 15th is the 10th anniversary of I Love To Write Day! This is an official event, with nearly 30,000 schools across the U.S. participating, along with bookstores, libraries, writing and book club groups, and people who simply love to write.

My goal for I Love To Write Day is to inspire people of all ages spend time writing,” says John Riddle, Founder. “They can write a poem, a love letter, a greeting card, an essay, a short story, start a novel, finish a novel…the possibilities are endless. The goal is simply to take the time to put your thoughts down on paper. You will be amazed at the results!

To provide a little extra inspiration, I’d like to share with you some of my very favorite quotes on writing and the writer’s life. If you enjoy these, I have a couple of additional treats for you at the end.

A good writing quote can literally give me goose bumps …

  • I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged…I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out. ~Erica Jong
  • For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that she has come upon the right word. ~Catherine Drinker Bowen
  • It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. ~Ernest Hemingway
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. ~Robert Benchley
  • The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home. ~John Campbell
  • To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone – just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over. ~John Hersey
  • I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I’m one of the world’s great re-writers. ~James A. Michener
  • The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. ~Robert Cormier
  • Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. ~Bonnie Friedman
  • A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. ~Sidney Smith
  • Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up. ~Jane Yolen
  • Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose…not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember. ~Anne Sullivan Macy
  • Start before you’re ready. ~Steven Pressfield
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. ~Richard Bach

For those inspired by these quotations, I’ve prepared a list of 100 writing prompts and quotations about writing for you to keep. To grab your free PDF copy simply click here.I love writing day

To learn more about I Love to Write Day, you can visit the official website here  http://www.ilovetowriteday.org If you’d like to share your writing or thoughts on writing this Thursday, the Twitter hashtag is #ilovetowriteday.

Finally, as my contribution to I Love to Write Day, I’ve populated my Amazon slide show (right hand sidebar) with books by fellow Indie Authors. I’ve read and reviewed each of these books, so I am happy to recommend them!

mahaloIf you enjoyed this article I hope you’ll consider contributing to the conversation by leaving a comment and sharing this post with your friends! In fact I’d love to connect with YOU! To follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., just click here.

I also hope you will consider joining the IGG Community! It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up, and then each new article will be conveniently delivered to your email inbox … and of course you’ll also receive your free Welcome Gift.

To learn more – press here.

Mahalo!

31 Responses
  1. November 25, 2012

    Hi Marquita,

    I need to read this a couple of times. While I think many of us see create “epic sh*t” everywhere, more of a struggle can be what to write about. Was ending the sentence with “about” incorrect? Do you just start writing freely with no specific direction or outline? I start off with a title and sometimes veer off course. Suddenly, that title doesn’t fit. So many obstacles with writing, but agree practice will improve our ability. I also find commenting on posts to be a good warm prior to writing our own blog posts. Enjoy your day, and thanks.

    Steve
    Steven Hughes recently posted..Requirements for the Changing Landscape of SEO TechniquesMy Profile

    • November 25, 2012

      You gave me such a good laugh with the “create epic sh*t” because that is SO true and it just makes me twitch everytime I see it! I’ll tell you a secret Steven, as far as veering off course, I do the same thing. I’ll get a topic in my mind, even do the research, but then when I start writing sometimes it morphs into something very different. I just go with the flow though because to me, that’s part of the fun of being an Indie writer, as opposed to writing for a paycheck like I used to … err, do, right? Thanks for stopping by!

  2. November 24, 2012

    Writing is like anything else, Marty.

    Consistency is the key. Practice is essential, as you point out. But practice cannot be just anytime you feel like it. It must be done consistently and methodically. That’s the way to improve you writing skills, or any skills for that matter.
    David Merrill 101 recently posted..Email MarketingMy Profile

  3. November 21, 2012

    I would add, writing what’s there in your heart honestly is the secret to better writing. I love reading quotes and I love the way you incorporate them in your posts, Marty. Thanks for these great tips.

  4. November 20, 2012

    You are a gem of a blogger. Keep writing!

  5. November 20, 2012

    Quoting authors and statesmen is also great. This is fantastic!
    Kelly recently posted..November 20, 2012 – Aries Daily HoroscopeMy Profile

  6. November 20, 2012

    I’ve bookmarked your post. Will be reading it again for those ‘down’ times

  7. November 19, 2012

    “Best writer is not the one who quits, but strives to practice and be developed.”

    Writing needs perseverance and determination in doing it. This may be a good thing in enriching one’s gift and making it productive or a way of self-expression.

  8. November 19, 2012

    Marty,

    I have written for quite awhile – articles, columns, book chapters and my complete book, Love Me, Touch Me, Heal Me. But I had never set up a consistent schedule. I have never determinedly written every single day – until this year during the month of November. I had agreed, on 10/28/12 at the Nanowrimo.org (National November Writer’s Month) to write a novel in 30 days. Having never written a novel before and having written mostly non-fiction along with many poems over the years, this was a huge challenge for me. To win the challenge, we are required to complete at least 50,000 words of our novel. I am proud to say, on Day 19 out of 30, I have already gone way past that final goal at 55,537 words and about 9 more chapters to fill in the gaps and complete my novel.

    Writing gets easier and more fluid when done consistently. It is like exercising any other muscle. The writing muscle needs exercise to function well. I have discovered that the more I write, the more I do enjoy writing.

    Warmly,

    Dr. Erica
    Erica Goodstone recently posted..Free Radicals: What are they and how do they affect aging? By Guest Blogger Tom WhiteMy Profile

  9. November 19, 2012

    Hi Marty. I’m lucky that I love to write. I was one of those kids who was writing a novel when I was 10. I know a lot of people who really struggle with it, though. This is such an encouraging article, and I love all the quotes. I think that a lot of people believe that writers are born that way. This proves that is not true. Thanks for your thoughts.

    All the best,
    Leslie
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  10. November 18, 2012

    Great post, Marty! You are so right about the importance in just getting started. I remember reading a book by Les Brown where he wrote that he took a motivational speaking course with one of the worst speakers he had ever heard. Years later, he still wasn’t good, but he put himself out there, and he was doing a lot better than the “good” speakers who refused to put themselves out there.
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  11. November 18, 2012

    Thank you so much for this salutary share, Marty :) I think that being a better writer is always coupled with being a broader reader. It also pays to have a writing nook that’s really conducive for writing.

  12. November 18, 2012

    I think that becoming a better writer really does involve a great deal of practice :) I make it a point to jot down my ideas on a regular basis and create drafts every time I write. It would also be beneficial if you could find a source of inspiration to direct you towards unleashing new thoughts and ideas. Thanks for the share!

  13. November 18, 2012

    Perfect practice makes perfect. I love your blog, and everything that you right in it. Will be waiting for more!

  14. November 16, 2012

    Hi Marty,

    Thank so much for your post. I have to agree so much that writing is just practice. I know this to be true, because when I was at school, I always thought of writing as a chore to get grades.

    I never really saw the magic of it. It wasn’t until later in life that I really found that I had my own style and that I could express myself through my writing and that just because I never displayed a model style of writing to get good grades in school, it didn’t mean I wasn’t actually a talented writer, with creativity and flare.

    Now I love writing and social research and it makes me smile inside.

    Beth :)
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  15. November 16, 2012

    I personally love it. As long as I am writing about something I have an interest in. Really, I have already started in development my blog for leopard geckos. It’s pretty much and untapped niche and I could write about bearded dragons, leopard geckos, crested geckos, ect. all day. No snakes, sorry hate them.

    I really think the writing is great in so many ways. Good tip on quotes I need to implement those into my strategy. I do have plans on writing a kindle book for free or something on blogging tips. It will be fun and teach people how to do it correctly. I have seen so much rehashed or flat out lies on stuff that doesn’t work on so called excellent bloggers sites? You know what I mean?
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    • November 16, 2012

      Welcome Gavin! Re the book – yes! I know exactly what you mean, and I feel the frustration myself at times so I encourage you to go for it. I must admit I love digital formatting – in fact during a recent author interview I was asked why I limit my books to digital publishing and I had to say it’s because there is so much flexibility and freedom. You can easily update or change your product at anytime – where as once something in print you pretty much have one choice – suck it up and live with it. :-)

  16. Steve Borgman
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    November 15, 2012

    Marquita, you’re speaking my language! If I hadn’t found blogging, I wouldn’t have found my writing voice (which is still very much in process). I loved the quotes so much, that I didn’t know where to begin! My favorite, so far, is “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” ~Richard Bach And the advice of writing every day is great as well.
    Steve Borgman recently posted..Individual Personal Development Plan: Your Key to SuccessMy Profile

    • November 16, 2012

      I hear to Steve, and I feel the same way. I’ve been a writer my whole life, but it wasn’t until I discovered and took the leap into blogging that I fully began to appreciate the opportunities and joy in sharing with others. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, always appreciated :-)

  17. November 15, 2012

    Hi Marquita,
    thank you for these important points, it is always inspiring to hear what others say in a specific situation, it is a source of inspiration for the readers that put themselves in others’ shoes so that they can create their own article, book or report.
    I must admit that although English is not my 1st language, I speak 5 languages fluently, writing has never been a problem.
    This is an area where I am not obsessed with perfection and this is what has kept me ” playing” with ideas, words and concepts.
    Thank you for sharing this post, it reminds me that” successful writers can be successful even if they do not write perfect sentences” as Bonnie Friedman says!
    Patricia Gozlan recently posted..How to Attract the Right Business Partners Using Your Divine GuidanceMy Profile

    • November 16, 2012

      Welcome back Patricia, so glad you enjoyed the article, and as always, appreciate taking the time to share your thoughtful insight.

  18. November 15, 2012

    I feel that I have a natural talent for writing. I’ve been writing since I was little and it’s one of the things that have always been like second nature to me.

    Like everything, I think that people who don’t have a ‘natural talent for writing’ can be just as good as those who do. Of course, it will take a lot more work, but if we want something we have to work to get it.
    Anne recently posted..Caught In A Self-Doubt TrapMy Profile

    • November 15, 2012

      Nothing wrong with a healthy ego Anne, and I have no doubt the readers of your blog would agree.

      For everyone else – and I include myself in that category – who must undertake the hard work to hone your writing craft, take heart, because you’re in good company with successful writers such as James Mitchener, Erica Jong, Stephen King and many, many others who freely admit to all the hard work it took them to get where they are today.

  19. November 14, 2012

    Writing in a style that is easily read and understood by a broad audience and just be with your self.
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  20. November 13, 2012

    Hi Marquitta,

    your post was just what I needed to read, so inspiring!

    Even though I write in my journal everyday and Quite often what flows out of my pen on paper is amazing myself at times I have not published much of it.

    The fear of criticism is what makes me close my journal instead of typing it and publishing it.
    And then there is that not refining something because it may not turn out perfect, – by who’s standards?

    Thank you for this post and for your generosity of supplying the prompts and quotations PDF.

    Love and Light
    Yorinda
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  21. November 13, 2012

    Thanks for sharing this very interesting post here! Keep it up always!

  22. November 13, 2012

    Great post Marty,

    It’s sad that so many people who have a unique voice don’t fully develop it because they feel that they don’t have “Natural Talent” as a writer. Reading your post reminded me of the book The Talent Code where the author sites the 10,ooo hour rule and that many artists who are thought to have been born natually talented (like Mozart or the Beatles) actually all clocked in about 10,000 hours of honing their craft before they produced truly great work.

    Thanks also for the list of great quotes.
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  23. November 13, 2012

    Hi Marty, I didn’t know about “Writers day”, what a wonderful idea! I like the quote about being the world’s best “re-writers”. For those who are not used to writing, then “re-writing” someone else’s articles is a good way to start.

    Once I start writing – even if I’m re-writing someone else’s, there is a flood of ideas come to my head, ways that I can write differently, or additional things I can say.

    Those who write comments here are “writers”, some people almost write a story in their comments.

    Thanks so much for all the ideas about becoming a better writer! Regards from Julieanne
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