ESSENTIAL WRITERS TIPS 7

Essential Writers Tips, Improve, Editing, Writer, Professional Writer, Criticism, Alpha Beta Readers, Publishing, Prepare

To Improve, Prepare Yourself For Punishment

A great part of writing and being a writer involves criticism.  A lot of time, we are afraid of having our work scrutinized constructively by others that we pass up opportunities to have them take a carving knife to our revered work.

However, to effectively improve your writing, you have to take certain steps that would certainly cause you to cringe.

If you can afford a professional writer or editor, pay them to look at your work and give you critical feedback without sweetening it. The tougher the criticism, the more helpful for you in the longer run.

The narrow road of the publishing industry is full of rejections and criticisms from publishing houses, editors, agent etc and the sooner your mind opens up to such circumstances the better accustomed you become.

As harsh and painful as this reality might be, if you are serious and want to improve your writing, you’ve got to prepare your mind to know  everything that’s wrong with it and how to handle/correct them. You’ve simply got to own your shortcomings and work on them.

An alternative to having a paid editor/professional writer – when you can’t afford to – is to find Alpha/Beta readers – (no not your mother, please) who will support you by critiquing your work. Check this link for more writers’ tips.

Improve your writing with:

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Common Mistakes We Need To Correct

Grammar Matters, Common Mistakes, Error Free Writing, Writers Tools, Writing helpmate, Professional Writing, Editing Writing, Making Right Sentences

Grammar Matters

While we would like to think that little mistakes don’t matter, they certainly do and could literally cost you an opportunity.

Imagine that you are sending a proposal to pitch to an editor for a certain writing job and it’s full of errors in them? I’ll leave the answer to you.

Wielding your words skillfully creates positive perceptions about you and what you’ve got to say, especially when trading your words is something that you do as a profession or something that you plan to take up doing.

Even after years of reading, writing, studying it in school, we still mess up now and again with our grammar and spellings and it’s not because we don’t know these things, but may simply be due to slip-ups that we don’t even recognize. This is why editors earn big bucks to help us tailor our words/story and circle out our errors that have blended into our work.

However, not all of us can afford the cost of professional editing – not yet at least, and whilst we work our way towards that time, we could keep our writing clean, professional and appealing by taking advantage of the opportunities available to us. These assistants help end mistakes that make us look sloppy.

Let’s look at a few of these mistakes

  • Your vs. You’re

The word Your is a possessive adjective used to replace the noun and to show ownership, while You’re is a contraction of you and are.

For example:

You have forgotten your purse

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You’re going to forget your purse

  • Its vs. It’s

The word its is a possessive adjective and it’s is a contraction of it and is. Its shows property ownership of a subject.

For example:

Dubai is a beautiful city but has its fair share of challenges.

It’s easy to substitute one for the other when we overlook the apostrophe, but this then makes an entirely different meaning to a sentence.

For example:

It’s quite clear that Dubai is a beautiful city.

  • Affect vs. Effect

The word affect is often used as a verb that means to influence or to cause something to change while effect is commonly used as a noun to show change which is a result of an action or other cause.

For example:

The accident affected her tremendously.

The President effected many policy changes.

  • Complement vs. Compliment

Given that these two words sound the same, it leads to confusion and interchanging.

Complement is a noun that used to show something that contributes extra features to something else in such a way as to enhance it or to emphasize its quality.

The word Compliment is equally a noun and used as a polite expression of admiration, expression or praise.

For example:

That bottle of white wine complements the dish perfectly

My compliments to the chef for a great dish.

  • Me vs. I

The wrong usage of Me vs. I in English writing is a common confusion and it’s an error that dots the pages of an article like an annoying rash.

Fortunately, under any circumstance, there’s a simple way of making the right choice of word when it comes to these two.

For example:

Could you send the package to Lucy and I?

This sentence is wrong.

Take Lucy out of the sentence and see how it reads. Does not sound right at all. Since you can’t write would you send the package to I the correct sentence should be;

Could you send the package to Lucy and me?

Try this other example:

He won’t be happy with you and I.

Take away ‘you’ from the sentence and you’ll see that it’s wrong so the proper sentence should be;

He won’t be happy with you and me

  • Into vs. In to

Another grammar faux pas because both sound the same and are difficult to distinguish. The word into is a preposition that indicates a movement or action to the inside of/being enclosed/engrossed in something. It shows some type of action taking place and the two words in to is used when in forms part of the verb in a phrase.

For example:

She was so tired after work that she simply crawled into bed without eating.

She gave in to undue pressure.

  • Insure vs. Ensure vs. Assure

These three words raise their confusion because they sound similar and used to infer making an outcome sure or certain. However, they have distinct meanings and are not interchangeable.

The word insure means to safeguard or take precautions against a loss or damage, typically a financial term which applies to taking out an insurance.

For example:

I pay my premium monthly to insure my car.

Ensure is to make sure that something will be the case/happen.

For example:

Please ensure that the records are accurate.

The word assure is used to set one’s mind at rest, to make a guarantee. It’s a verbal statement of promise and certainty

For example:

I assure you that I’ll deliver the goods on time.

  • Farther vs. Further

The word further means to a greater degree or additionally. It indicates time or amount and the word farther means to go up to a greater point. It indicates length or distance.

For example:

His house is two miles farther down the road.

To understand this question requires further studies.

  • Loose vs. Lose

The word lose is a verb used to express to no longer have, to suffer from a loss and loose is an adjective that signifies not tight, free from constraint, unattached.

It’s not a surprise that they are commonly misused because of their closeness in spelling. A quick tip to help you find the right one to use is to remember that lose is the opposite of win and is used to describe something that you or someone else does or suffers.

For example:

Due to the recession, I may lose my job.

He will surely lose his key.

On the other hand, loose is an adjective used to describe the quality of something or someone. It doesn’t refer to something that someone does or suffers.

For example:

I lost weight and my clothes became loose.

That rope is too loose, tighten it.

That’s enough lesson for today. You can check here for extra writers’ tips.

Are there any grammar peeves that you could share with us in the comments? This is a learning space and I love to learn from others. Remember, you can make your writing cleaner by using helpmates like Grammarly. Try it for free.

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ESSENTIAL WRITERS TIPS 6

Essential Writers Tips, risk writing, unconventional writing, best tips, write dangerously, break boundaries, push comfort level

Write Dangerously

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Telling your best story in the best possible way that you can is the goal of a writer and sometimes this might involve stepping away from conventional writing and taking a risk with your writing.

Risk taking writing pushes your writing out of the box that you’ve nicely fitted it into, to another level.

Grab their attention with that opening line and hold it as you take off from there. In these days of Kindle and fast read, the action gets fast real quick like a jet zooming to take off.

This doesn’t imply that a story shouldn’t have the best calm, soft and gentle opening that’s ever been written, of course, it could, but that opening should be tight and grasp its readers’ attention.

If you are opening up with a love scene, make it sizzle without being off-putting, plant innuendos that make a reader want to know more or even afraid to know more – take a risk and allow your characters to lead their story without stifling and reshaping their thoughts too much.

Most times, we are afraid of taking risks with our writing out of fear of offending others, excluding others or exposing ourselves – our way of thinking, philosophy etc. It all boils down to fear of judgment which can hinder your approach and growth as a writer.

From the onset know that agreeable writing is as boring as anything. If you trim, shave and water down your writing to suit everyone’s needs, you’ll certainly lose the power of your own voice and your muses.

Part of being a writer is that you’ve got a million characters and more dwelling inside you and each has their own unique voice and story to tell.

Go an extra length and cross your creative Rubicon. Let your characters tell those hideous, frightening secrets waiting to tumble out on paper. You might squirm at the first thought, but dangerous writing brings out the risk taker in you. It changes your perception as a writer.

Write to agitate the mind and the nerves.

What are your thoughts on risk taking writing? What do you perceive as the limitations of risk writing? I would love to hear from you. For more writers’ tips, check this link.

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ESSENTIAL WRITERS TIPS 5

Writing, Essential Writers Tips, Fully Present, Experience, Open, Curious, Top Tips, Best Practice, Interactions

Be Open, Be Curious, Be Present

A mind closed in its way of thinking leaves little room for growth. To develop one’s writing capabilities involves keeping the mind open and curious to learn from everything that happens around us because everything is a possible material for your writing.

As a writer, in today’s world where technology has inadvertently affected direct human interactions, it’s become even more pertinent that we are fully present, curious and open to our surroundings.

As we grow older, we become set in our notions, opinions and ways and these attitudes leak into our writing which makes it difficult to break out of a hedge of thinking that we might have developed, however, we can relearn some of these skills by choosing how to listen, how to relate and be fully present in given moments.

No, you don’t have to try everything to understand how it works. You don’t have to go and jump off a cliff to experience how broken your legs would be if you survive it, that’s taking it a bit too far – though there are those who indulge certain extreme sports and if you do know such a person, then by all means, ask them pertinent questions. Get into their mind by asking open questions that don’t come across as judgemental.

Leading questions leave room for a lengthy answer. Asking a precise question such as;

What was it like to go hiking up the mountain – gives the responder a lot of room to express their excitement, experience, recommendations etc and you could tap into this if you are not going to try to do the same hiking that he/she did.

Be like a child, eager to learn and to soak up information. As adults, our childlike curiousity  has reduced because we now look at life with jaded, experienced eyes and are far too busy chasing after money to pay the bills that pile before us.

You could embrace and rekindle your inner child often and make life your playground once again. Do something fun, read a book you loved as a child, try a new look, dance, figure out how something irrelevant works, drop that phone and connect with others. Imagine all those silly things you wanted to do as a child? Relive some of them and refresh your mind.

There’s an amazing power in being in the present and you can do this by focusing completely on the task, the event or the company that you are with. It takes practice to focus without getting distracted or just being in auto mode which takes away from an experience.

By being mindful, you would find out that you gain more insights and everything could translate into an amazing experience.

Please do share your amazing little writing tips with us. We learn from each other when we share. More tips are here

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Essential Writers Tips 4

Essential Writers Tips, Think Like Writer, Professional Writer, Best Practice, Bestseller, Huffington Post, Positive Attitude, Mind Strength, Self-Help, Growth, Success

I write, therefore I am

Identify with the craft and think like a writer. A lot of beginner writers and even some who have crafted words for  some time are always reluctant to introduce themselves as a writer. 

This could be due to lack of confidence in their craft as well as the misconception that one is only permitted to claim the title of a writer when they have a Bestseller that has made New York Times list or when their article gets published on Huffington Post and the likes.

Part of growing as a professional writer is to take ownership and pride in your craft even if it’s not yet paying. Except you do, no one else will.

You are your biggest cheerleader and short of using the saying ‘fake it until you make it,’ accepting and putting yourself in that frame of thinking while you work towards your success boosts your confidence and broadens your scope of thinking in that aspect. It’s a mental attitude thing.

For more writers tips, you can check this link.

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Catch Those Grammar Gremlins and Squiggly Spelling Errors

 Grammar, Grammar Mistakes, Spelling Errors, Grammarly, Write Better, Proof Read Writing, Professional Writing, Writers

Nip Writing Mistakes In The Bud

Would you be able to count how many times you’ve crafted a perfect article, published it, only to read it a few days later and gasp @$#@@, lo and behold, there it is eyeing you in a malevolent way – a Wrong Spelling, a Grammatical Error, all inserted by those hideous trolls? Quelle Horreur!

Now the ever-loving Grammar Police will be after you with vengeance. Yep! There are those who make it their business to catch spelling and grammar defaulters and you’ll be banished to the spelling room with a Nanny McPhee nightmare of a teacher. Beware!

Have I got your attention yet?

The truth is that as writers, once we are in the zone scribbling and tapping away, our eyes’ become blind to our errors even when we’ve read them over and over. It’s strange how these errors blend in, even when you cultivate a habit of leaving the article and going over it several days later with a fresh eye. The impression is that since you already know what you wrote, the tendency is to skim through your work.

Given that there will be lots of times you need to publish on the go, you may not have all the time in the world to keep the work aside and to get back to it day’s later, therefore, it’s absolutely important to find a system that works.

Believe me, if I got paid for all the little hidden typographical, grammatical, punctuation and the list of all the writing errors imaginable, I would be laughing to the bank and possibly ensuring that I made enough errors each day to earn me some dollars.

Alas! The reverse is the case and no one gets paid for making mistakes. As a matter of fact, a post that’s ridden with errors is simply off-putting and no matter how thick your writing armored plate is, you still tend to feel a bit embarrassed when a righteous grammar Nazi points out your little mistake with glee.

Ever since I started using Grammarly to proofread my posts before publishing, it has saved me time and reduced my stress. The advantages of using Grammarly are several. It’s not just the basic run-of-the-mill tool for grammar and spelling checks, I love how it helps my writing with its context and gives it better clarity.

With my tongue in my cheek, I must say there are times I get mad at Grammarly for making suggestions to changes in my writing, but the fact remains that it’s a simple to use, effective tool that comes highly recommended in my opinion. What are you waiting for? You can thank me later and share your experience.

You can check here for essential writers tips.

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Essential Writers Tips 3

Essential Tips, Writer, Writing, Getting job done, Appearance, Little Changes, Best practice

Focus On Your Appearance

You might wonder what your personal appearance has to do with your writing especially when you are a new writer trying to chart a path for yourself.

Some writers may sit and write in their underwear, pajamas or their favourite raggy house clothes, but most times, sleep mouth, gritty eyes paired with comfortable, casual worn-out clothing translates to sloppiness.

When you plunk down in to write in a shabby state, your brain also registers that mood and you get little work done before the mood to climb back into the bed, or couch hits you once again.

Little changes like brushing your teeth and hair, washing your face and wearing clean smart clothes – not necessarily formal – makes a lot of difference.

Making such minor changes sends a message of readiness to your brain and your writing. Your appearance ultimately has a positive effect on you. Taking your writing seriously means treating it like your job and you won’t go to work in your underwear or shabbily dressed.

Check here for more snippets of helpful writing tips. Do share some of your tips with us. I love learning new methods and best practice.

Become a writer – transform your inspiration into words.

Transforming inspiration, Writing aspirations, grab readers attention, writing, structure your story, keep it simple, Writing POV

Ways to transform your inspiration into words – Part 2

Many times I’ve met people who express their wish to become a writer, but they haven’t been able to transition into taking their writing passion seriously due to other pressing exigencies, thus their wish to write keeps taking the back burner.

Important lessons that I’ve learned about writing is – that there will never be the right time to get started because life keeps happening and secondly, you have to treat your writing like a job; whether it’s started paying or not.

Your writing is not something done in a haphazard way if you truly want to make some meaning out of it.

I suggest that you take a look at Part 1 of this series on how to become a writer to help you merge both series.

Write what you know about

When you are familiar with something or a topic, it’s far easier to write about it in more depth and details. The realism of your story shows in your words and ultimately translates to a better read. There might be times that you want to dabble into a not so well-known topic, you would need to do enough research to comfortably express your thoughts.

Grab your reader’s attention

Help your readers to see through your eyes right from the beginning because a readers’ minds could be very selective. You’ve got to give them a reason to pay attention to what you are saying. To do this, there are some techniques that you could use:

  1. Start with an opening that arouses curiosity to know more.
  2. Use the emotional and sensory approach. Our experiences and perception of things are through our senses and your words should draw on the sense of visual, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and emotions which will often compel your readers’ own imagination as they vicariously experience what you are writing.
  3. Add concrete details that would help to give a sense of understanding of what is happening in the writing. Instead of using generalist terms to describe an image – a man in a white shirt, be more specific – the tall man in a white shirt with a limp in his steps.

Structure your story

Sometimes achieving the natural progression of your story by writing chapter after chapter in a linear structure of beginning, middle and end, may not be as easy to do as we would like, but you could take up your story from its climax – if that comes easier – and then backtrack to flesh it out as you go on.

Choose a point of view

The point of view you decide to use is largely dependent on the information that you seek to communicate. There are various POV’s that could be used in writing. Let’s take a brief look at them.

  1. The First person POV could be used when your main character is telling the story. Here you use an ‘I’ narrator and your readers’ experience of the story is through the eyes of the narrator. The first person POV could equally be in the plural form ‘we’ when there’s a collective number of narrators. The first person POV could be a detached narrator who might be a supporting character in the story.
  2. The Second person POV. This is most often used for instructional writing which it told from the perspective of ‘you.’
  3. The Third person POV is the most commonly used point of view in writing. The third person uses ‘he/she or it’ narrator and your narrator is not a character in the story.  The third person POV has three main types:

The third person limited POV which limits the point of view to one character. The narrator is only privy to what the character knows, therefore the vision would get smaller and limited.

The third person multiple. Here the narrator can follow multiple characters in the story by using he/she/it, but the onus lies on you to make sure that your reader knows when you are switching from one character to the next one.

The third person omniscient. This point of view offers the narrator a free rein in the story where the narrator knows everything and is not limited by what one character knows. Your narrator in this point of view could even know things that others are not aware of.

Keep it Simple

Starting with simple sentences is the best approach. Yes, your vocabulary might be extensive and you love to toss those fancy words into the mix, the usage of bogus words right from the onset throws readers off-balance. Your need to give every reader who comes across your writing an opportunity to understand and appreciate the information.

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Essential Writers Tips 2

Writing Intention, Writing Strategy, Focus, Communication, Message, Readers, Approach, Writing Tips

When writing, focus on the intention of your writing. What message are you trying to convey? Do your words express your message as you would like it to? What impression would you like the communication to leave on your readers?

By focusing on these things, you place yourself in a state of mind where you are able to sense what you want to express as well as trying to get into your readers head.

This approach makes it easier for your words to flow naturally and unstinted. It’s equally a great strategy to overcome writers’ block and many forms of a writers’ anxiety.

You can check our Writers’ Tips for more tips on writing and the book by Roy Peter Clark;  55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer for further reading.

Are you working on any writing project? What strategies work for you to keep focused on your project? Do share your secret to success with us.

Essential Writers Tip 1

Essential writing tips, Writing Projects, Writers Block, Writing Strategy,  

Consistency and focus are key in completing a writing project, however, there are times when the writers’ block would strike and the reason that you should have several projects going on at the same time is the ability to switch and keep working without stagnating and feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.

Your projects could be based on different writing genres or even other creative outlets. This way, you give your mind the opportunity to exhale and most times in-between working on other things, your muse returns from her sabbatical. The important thing is to keep writing.

Recommended further reading: 55 Essential Strategies For Every Writer. You can also check our short post To be a writer – Simple ways to start.

Are you working on any writing project? Do you have a strategy for staying focused and completing your project? Share your secret to success with us.