Saturday, June 21, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect

When it comes to writing, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better you’ll become.

You may have to force yourself to write every day, but by doing so. Writing will become routine. Sooner or later, you’ll be able to write about anything at a moment’s notice. Putting words on paper or in a computer will become an enjoyable process instead of a much feared drudgery.

Most beginning writers want to write, but what to write may be the problem, keeping them from doing it often.

Frankly, writing without readers—that is, writing for yourself—is pointless. And while keeping a journal may be good for keeping yourself on track, it does little for your writing skills because there’s no interaction from readers.

It’s much like talking to your self. There’s no one listening but you. And communication— whether written or spoken—is a two-way proposition. To communicate you have to have someone on the other end, either a reader or a listener.

Let’s say you’re just starting out on your writing journey. You probably have few, if any, publishing opportunities. So what can you do to practice your craft? Unlike even a decade ago, there are now lots of possibilities out there, thanks to ever-improving technology. “The world is your writing oyster,” to paraphrase an old saying, thanks to the Internet.

However, you have to be careful what you post on it. At the least, you can do daily posts on Facebook or Twitter. In the first instance, Facebook users tend not to read as much as view images. Have you noticed the increased use of “text” images—quotes created on an image to be shared? These and one-sentence tweets don’t make you a writer. No one will be able to judge your writing from such brief examples.

So that brings up blogs. These are a great way to practice your writing. Blogs are a modern, online form of the essay—a piece of writing, like this one, that express your opinion on a topic. Unfortunately, too many blogs are just frequent ramblings of people who think that telling their reader about what they ate for breakfast makes compelling reading. Blogs should be much more than that.

To be successful at blogging, you have to have a purpose. Your blog should inform or entertain and should be shorter rather than longer.  Above all, you should post installments regularly. But just because you’re writing a blog on the Internet, which too many people often view as an informal medium, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore good writing skills. Blogs are an ideal platform for you to practice them.

Another related option is to contribute to other people’s blogs. Many bloggers welcome other writers’ work, plus this also gets your name out on the Web.

Still another opportunity is writing short articles for Web sites. It’s difficult for Web developers to get lots of new content. Many are constantly seeking new work to post on their sites. Write articles on one or more subjects that interest you.

First, however, you’ll need to not only learn to research and write interesting articles but also to word them for the Internet, which is bit different than writing for print publications. These pieces must be as professionally perfect as if you were writing them for a magazine. The downside is that Web developers are notoriously cheap and often expect the world for very little pay or nothing. But at this point, you can afford to write some short pieces to again get your name out there and get some readers.

Finally, there’s self publishing via ebooks. It’s sometimes hard, even for seasoned writers, to realize that ebooks are still books, albeit in digital form. They require all the care and attention a writer should give to any book. This last opportunity may be beyond your reach if you’re just beginning.

Engaging in any of the above writing activities will make you a better writer. But you’ll no doubt have to practice to make your work perfect. 

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