How to Write Better and Faster — And Have More Fun Doing It!

We are a quirky bunch-that’s for sure. Every writer has different habits, unique strengths, and mistakes they always make in their work. For example, some can’t get started without a cup of coffee. Some always forget when to use “that” or “which.” And in some cases, these quirks severely limit a writer’s success.

Knowing your own habits, flaws, mistakes, and strengths can help you compensate for your limitations, and work with your own natural strengths and rhythms. In other words, knowing yourself as a writer can make you a better writer and help you achieve your goals. To get to know your writer-self a little better, consider the following three areas of your work.

1. Your Mistakes

Knowing the issues that trip you up can help you eliminate the problem before it becomes a problem. If you default to the passive voice, and you know this is a problem for you, then you can specifically look for these issues when you self-edit your work. To determine the mistakes you make all the time, ask a writer-friend for objective feedback on your grammar, punctuation, and style; or have your work professionally copyedited and look for trends in the editor’s comments. Then you’ll know what to fix before you submit your work for publication.

2. Your Strengths

Like knowing your weaknesses, knowing your strengths can help you achieve your writing goals-and make writing easier. If you can write essays with your eyes closed, or you can plot a murder mystery in minutes, then you should be capitalizing on those strengths. When you know what type of work you like to do the best, then you will naturally gravitate towards those projects and specialize in a way that sets you apart from other writers. This is why it never hurts to experiment with different genres and forms-you may find you have a knack for writing short stories or plays or feature articles.

3. Your Work Habits

Some writers work best early in the morning and others like waiting until everyone else in the household has gone to sleep before they sit down to write. Knowing and understanding your rhythms can help you plan your writing time around your most productive and creative hours of the day. To figure out when you write best, pay attention for a few days to when you feel most inspired, when the words come the easiest, and when you feel like writing. Every writer is different, although none should hesitate to plan their day around their writing.

Knowing Yourself

Getting to know yourself as a writer-the good and the bad-can make you a better, smarter, and more successful writer. Knowing the mistakes you make over and over again lets you know what to look for when you revise. Knowing your strengths helps you make them stand out; and understanding your work habits helps you increase productivity. When you use these tips for getting to know you as a writer, your work will get better and you’ll achieve your writing goals.

Learn to Write – Becoming a Better Writer

There are hundreds of people walking around with the dream to become a children’s writer. However, they may be unsure of where to start or don’t how if they can learn to write. Like anything, writing a children’s book doesn’t happen overnight and there are specific techniques you can use to increase your chances of both completing a viable manuscript and being published.

Become an Observer

When it comes to writing fiction, especially children’s books, it’s all in the details. Most people go through their day being a part of the action. However, to be a productive and effective writer, you need to begin to look through the lens, so to speak. Just as a photographer has to take a step back in order to capture a beautiful shot, an author also has to spend more time observing- surroundings, scenarios, conflicts and human nature.

Make it an Automatic Habit

Once you start observing, you might find yourself analyzing every situation you find yourself in, with your book or plot in mind. This is a productive exercise. Keep a secondary dialogue going in your head with observations on what is happening around you.

Inspiration is a Myth

While there are certainly times when you will touch those computer keys and the story will seemingly fly off your fingers, those events are usually the exception. Most inspiration is the result of good, old fashioned discipline. The more you do something, the more opportunities you will find for real success.

Make Time for Creativity

When you discuss writing with other authors, almost everyone can relate to the classic case of writer’s block. The solution of this is to put that butt in the chair, plain and simple. Schedule your writing time and don’t let anything interfere. If your family life is distracting, get up early. Those are generally the most productive hours to learn to write anyways. Don’t get dressed, check email or eat breakfast until you have put in your time. An hour each morning should be sufficient to work on your children’s book.

It’s Not All About the Good Stuff

If you’ve ever been in a group of people while you listened to someone relate a truly horrible situation, you know just how interesting these stories are for both the storyteller and the group of listeners. What you might not realize is how you can use your embarrassing moments to improve your writing skills. Every story is built around a conflict, after all. Detail a particularly embarrassing moment, including as many details as possible. This will help you with your descriptive writing and also train your brain to recognize both details, and the human nature that is behind them. When writing a children’s book, use incidences from your childhood. Most good children’s book connect with the audience, so this exercise is very useful to your overall success. You may even find just the plot that you are looking for.

Make Goals

Some of the most successful people use goal setting as a tool to remain productive. Goals can be very important for an author. So much of writing is a personal endeavor, often with very little feedback. Make little goals as you learn to write and devise rewards that you find motivating to mark these goals. This can keep you going, even if you are unsure if you still have it in you. If you need outside encouragement, find a friend or mentor to report your goals and progress to on a weekly basis.

Article Marketing: Long or Short Articles – Which Is Better

Most online professionals know that article marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote a product/service. However, when marketing with articles, which is better, long or short articles?

Most experts say that articles should be between 400-600 words, give or take 50 on either side. However, in general, I disagree. Why? For the following three reasons:

NOTE: There are times when shorter pieces — eg, Tip of the Day, Just an FYI, an editorial/opinion piece — are justified.

1. Not Enough Detail: Many articles are written to sell something. So, a business owner may pay someone to write a general article on their topic to drive traffic to their site. This is fine, but as a reader, when I’m searching for information, I usually want details that go beyond what a general article will dispense.

It’s frustrating to just get the tip of the iceberg – ie, information I may already know – and not get the meat of a subject.

This is a big turn-off for me. And when I visit a site, if it’s filled with a lot of these what I’ve deemed “common sense pieces,” with no “meat” information, I conclude that the site owner is more interested in selling me a product/service than educating me on a particular subject.

Education leads to knowledge which leads to trust, which THEN leads to SALES. If more online sellers would realize this, they’d do better.

2. No Expertise: Many articles are obviously written (or commissioned) by those with little or no experience on/in/with the subject written about. Most of the information found in the majority of articles can be Googled and found via official sources.

I don’t know about most surfers, but when I look for information, I want the personal experience – how you did it, what worked for you, what didn’t work – and why? This is the real benefit of the Internet. It allows a true exchange of first-hand information.

When you’ve used a product, built a business, found an effective technique – and can back it up with a personal story (eg, this is what happened when I did “x”), it gives sooooo much more validity than just spouting off what can easily be found via official sources.

And again, this leads to knowledge, which leads to trust, which THEN leads to SALES. Why? Because people get the feeling that you know what the heck you’re talking about.

INSIGHT: I particularly like personal stories that detail what didn’t work so well? Why? Two reasons: a) It saves me from making the same mistake; and 2) allows me to brainstorm about how to do it better. It also lends an air of truth (hence, validity) to whatever sales pitch you’re making.

This leads to my final point – failure.

3. Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Tell Me What NOT to Do: Many articles begin with “How To.” And, this is fine most of the time. But, also take the time (eg, expand the word count) to tell me what NOT to do.

To digress a minute, I don’t know how/when we became a nation of people afraid to admit failure, but that’s almost the first lesson of success. It takes failure to get to success.

I’ve failed at so many things (especially businesses) that I just have to laugh as I look over the list (yes, I keep one). But you know what, I wouldn’t know half of what I know now if I hadn’t failed so often.

When you gain knowledge via failure – you’ve earned it – that’s like money in the bank. You can move forward confidently because you know what, for sure, DOESN’T work.

Why “Failure” Increases Sales

When a writer drones on and on about this, that and the other, I’m searching for the grain of truth, for the human element of failure. Admitting to failure does three things:

a) It tells me that you’re passionate about your product/service: When you’re persistent enough to keep trying something after failing at it – you’re either just plain crazy, or passionate about it. This passion will always be translated to your end user — you just have to trust me on that.

b) It tells me that you’re human: Part of connecting with a customer is making them feel like you understand their situation.

If you excel at everything you try – well, I just can’t relate to a person like that. If I can’t relate to you, you’re going to have a harder time selling to me. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it just means you’ll have to work that much harder.

c) It tells me that you care: When you fail – and put it out there for the world to dissect – it tells me you care enough about me, the consumer, to want me to avoid the same mistakes. And you know what, I’ll like you for that, trust you for that and BUY FROM YOU because of that.

Sincerity can be sensed and if you have page after page of obviously canned material on your site, re-evaluate why you are really in business.