I took no interest in writing during high school. The only things I wrote were literature essays and exam papers. I never imagined myself as a writer. To me, writing was a sacred job, reserved for only very creative or wise people.
It wasn’t until college that I discovered my passion for writing. It started out more like a hobby. I would scribble some notes when I got bored, read other people’s blogs, or even, when I felt inspired, write a couple pieces myself.
I still remember the first time I completed an entire blog post. It was effortless. I fleshed out the first draft in one go without much thinking, writing whatever sprung up in my mind.
And it felt wonderful.
From that day on, I was a writing machine. I wrote in the morning after breakfast, on the bus to school, and at night before bed. Sometimes life got the better of me and I stopped writing altogether, but I always found my way back to it.
Starting out as a new writer was hard. Being the beginner I was, I made a lot of mistakes and it took me a while to learn some of the best writing practices that have brought me a moderate level of success.
If you are currently just starting out on your writing journey, or have been writing for a while and are looking for extra tips to further your success, then don’t worry. You won’t have to wait years like I did to figure it all out.
Here are the eight writing lessons I wish I knew as a beginner blog writer. These tips should help you to write more productively, overcome self-doubt, and love your writing. If you’re ready, let’s dive right in.
Write What You Know
Read any craft book and you’ll come across the advice “write what you know.” Now I know what you may be thinking: Is this statement just an idle cliche or helpful advice? Through my experience, I’ve come to strongly believe the latter.
When you write what you know, everything becomes automatic. You don’t have to think much about what to write; you just grab a pen or place your fingers on the keyboard and start firing.
On the other hand, when you write what you don’t know, writing becomes a pain. You have to do tons of research and take notes on unfamiliar topics. Suddenly writing isn’t fun anymore and it turns into laborious work.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do research for your blog post. In fact, readers are more drawn to a well-researched post since it shows you are interested enough in the topic to mull over boring studies and statistics. But research should only be a complementary factor. Don’t turn your post into a “copy & paste” of other people’s work.
First write what you know. Speak from your experience. Then look for some research, studies, and examples to make your points clearer and more interesting.
Write in Full Sentences, Not Phrases
I don’t know if you ever write in phrases, but I do that quite often, especially when I get too exhausted to write anything.
What is writing in phrases? It’s writing down snippets of words instead of full sentences.
Here’s an example:
(Logo design.) (The signature of the brand.) (Increase brand awareness.)
I thought that I could go back and connect the ideas later on, but I couldn’t.
This process often results in hours and hours of me doing copious amounts of editing. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to find the right flow. The sentences always felt incoherent and awkward.
By contrast, when I write in complete sentences, I feel like the ideas are better connected because I don’t disrupt the flow of my creative mind. Although there are many redundant ideas, repeated phrases, and grammatical mistakes, most of these are fixed as I go through my piece again.
So my advice for you is: Pour out whatever is on your mind and don’t hold back. Don’t be too lazy to write full sentences when you can. More importantly, know what you write. Then you won’t hesitate to put down your thoughts. You can flesh them out in one go.
Know Your Limit
Writing is like practicing for a marathon. You don’t want to give it all out on Day One only to skip the rest of the week. You need to build your resistance over time. Start with a short running distance then increase the miles steadily. That way you don’t get too exhausted while still feeling motivated to continue the next day.
So with writing, know your limit. If you can’t write more than 2,000 words per day, don’t force yourself to reach a daily word count of 5,000 words. There’s no point in driving yourself to exhaustion. The key is to write according to your personal circumstances, rather than sticking to a far-fetched word count.
Take Regular Breaks
You won’t always have the luxury to stop writing whenever you like. Say you’re under a tight deadline; putting your writing off to the next day won’t be an option. But writing in long stretches can dry up your energy very quickly.
To keep your energy level high the whole time, take regular breaks. Don’t wait until you’ve finished to refill your battery. The longer you postpone breaks, the harder it is to rejuvenate.
Consider adopting the Pomodoro Technique. Write with utmost concentration for 25 minutes. Then have a five-minute break. After your break, continue writing for another 25 minutes. After four rounds, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. During the breaks, feel free to do what you like. Listen to music. Drink water. Eat some fruit. Or simply close your eyes and breathe.
This way, you can avoid distractions and concentrate solely on the task. You can brainstorm better ideas and put more words on paper. And because you focus only on getting your ideas out, you won’t be distracted by going back to fix your mistakes yet. You can cast the inner critic away and be more productive at writing.
Shut Out the Inner Self-Critic
“Don’t edit while writing.” I’m sure you’ve heard this many times. It has become sort of generic advice, but it is still one of the best pieces of writing advice there is.
Let’s be honest. Can you finish what you want to say when someone keeps barging in? Chances are you can’t. It’s the same with writing. It’s impossible to finish your work with a nagging voice behind your ears.
Let your subconscious mind take over and just write. Don’t allow the inner critic to involve and disrupt your creative flow. There’ll be plenty of time to edit your work later.
Another reason to shut out the inner editor is that you might get so absorbed in fixing the text you forget what to write next. Moreover, the habit of finding fault with whatever you put on the page can really get to your nerves and discourage you from writing.
Lower Your Expectations
Sometimes writing is hard because you’ve set the bar too high. It’s every writer’s dream to craft a piece that attracts hundreds of shares, likes, and comments. But if you only think about the shares, likes, and comments you want to get, you’ll never be able to get your writing done.
Your work will always seem too lousy to be read by anyone. You might also be disappointed when the result doesn’t live up to your expectations and stop writing altogether.
What you need to know is that the lack of likes and shares doesn’t mean your writing is bad. A post’s popularity usually involves a lot of promotional work. It also depends on your brand identity. Sometimes you need to write for years to amass a sizable audience who want to read your work.
Here’s another painful truth. Not everything you write will be something people want to read. You might craft a very interesting piece, but if it’s not what most people care about, they won’t read it. But then why should that stop you from writing?
Write First, Worry About SEO Later
That’s enough about writing what you know and love. How about getting people to read your work? Writing for self-expression is great. But if you want to help others through your writing, you have to make sure it finds them.
That’s where SEO comes in. If you want to get your page indexed by a search engine, you need to know a thing or two about SEO writing.
Long gone are the days that Google ranked you based on the number of keywords you stuffed inside the text. Your post now gets indexed and ranked by how well it matches the user’s intent. So in the end, what matters is the quality of your content.
That’s why you should write first and worry about SEO later. Find a keyword under the topic you want to write about. Then put it aside and write your post. Only after you’ve finished your draft should you worry about on-page SEO. I’m no SEO expert, but here’s a few things I do to optimize for on-page SEO:
- Add the keywords in the title, the intro, subheadings, the conclusion or wherever you feel is right.
- Add alt text to your images, and use the keywords there. Alt text is short for alternative text. This is what your readers will see if the page has trouble loading your image.
- Edit the link to your blog post. Make sure that it is short and contains your keyword.
- Link your post to other posts on your site (internal links) and other sites (external links).
When Stuck, Do Something Else
People say writer’s block isn’t real, that it only exists in your imagination and that you make it up to avoid the act of writing. But I can assure you that writer’s block is not the product of your imagination. You can’t just push through it by keeping writing.
Quite often writer’s block is a message from your brain: “I’m mentally exhausted … too tired to write anything.” If you try to force it, you only end up getting more blocked.
What should you do instead?
Just stop writing and switch to something else. Get outdoors. Go for a walk. Visit a coffee shop. Chat with a friend. Read. Get something to eat. Go to sleep. Whatever you do, don’t think about the article you’re working on. Forget all about it.
My favorite thing to do to get past writer’s block is to take a nap. The other day, I struggled to put a piece together. After a nap, I could finish it in one go. It seemed like my brain continued to work on the ideas while I was asleep.
Finding Your Process
Pursuing your passion as a writer is hard, but so worth it.
That’s because writing is a learning process. The more you write, the better you are at expressing yourself. You’ll become less shy about sharing what you know with others. You also learn to be humble, patient, and take time to do things. But above all, you’ll be happy because you are making a gift to the world every day.
That said, embarking on a writer’s journey can be really tough. You’ll find that writing is hard. You will hit writer’s block often. You will get discouraged by lack of recognition. You will get bored with the routine and want to quit.
So, you need to be well-prepared for the journey.
I hope you’ve found something useful in this post. I’ll be so glad if these tips help you to get more out of your craft.
However, this is just my personal experience. What works for me might not work for you. You may completely disagree with what I have said. After all, it’s you who knows your writing best. So come up with your own process to produce the best work. It won’t happen in one day, but as you write, you will find it. Good luck!