With all the different websites and gazillions of topics on how to be a good writer online—sometimes you feel confused or overwhelmed by so much information. In lies the question to believe or not to believe? So here are a few tidbits this writer thinks will help you on your writing journey. Whether it’s for an essay, short story, blog, book, or movie script these byte-size lessons from some very successful writers will certainly fit the bill…

  1. Octavia E. Butler – “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not… Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.Why: If you rely solely on inspiration to write you won’t get anything done. But if you create a habit of writing inspiration will come eventually. Pro Tip: Commit to a time and length of time you’ll sit down and write each day. Try writing for 15 minutes in the early morning, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, late afternoon/early evening, or late at night. Then ask: Which time of day did you feel most able to write and most creative?
  2. Jonathan Franzen – “Never use the word “then” as a conjunction – we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.Why: Cutting some of these conjunctions and breaking up sentences makes your writing more powerful and to the point.
    American Journal experts recommend:
    A) Reread what you’ve just written and look out for the word “then.” Can you replace it with “and”?
    B) Re-read it again. Can you eliminate some of your “ands” and break the sentence up into two sentences?
  3. John Grisham“Read each sentence at least three times in search of words to cut.” Why: Succinct writing grabs and holds your reader’s attention. It’s also more memorable and impactful, especially when it’s used in a high-stakes moment.
    Pro Tip:
    A) Think about what you’re trying to say: Does each word contribute to your message? If not–cut those words.
    B) Remove redundant words. For example: “In my opinion, I think”…would simply be ” In my opinion.”
    C) Cut out fluff words. For example: “completely”, “actually” and “totally”.
  4. Joyce Carol Oates“Unless you are writing something very Avant-Garde – all gnarled, snarled and ‘obscure’ – be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.” Why: Readers will often lose track, lose interest, or flat-out skip walls of text. Breaking things up help readers focus. According to Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, you can ask yourself these five questions to see if it’s time to start a new paragraph.
    A) Am I starting a new idea, description, or point?
    B) Am I presenting some contrasting idea?
    C) Am I beginning dialogue?
    D) Is someone new speaking?
    E) When I read this do I feel bored? Feel lost?

    If the answer is yes, it’s time to start a new paragraph and break up your text.
  5. George Orwell“By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort at the cost of leaving your meaning vague. Not only for your reader but for yourself.” Why: When you avoid well-known metaphors you force yourself to come up with one that specifically conveys the feeling you’re after rather than settling for something overused and vague. Pro Tip: Fiction Editor Sophie Playle recommends rejecting the first metaphor that pops into your head.
    A) Think of the specific feeling or image you want to convey.
    B) Remember a time you felt or saw the most acutely.
    C) Ask yourself: “What words come up when I remember that moment?”
    D) Use those words.

I hope the above writer’s wisdom will help you along the yellow brick road to your writing destiny. Keep those darn keys clicking and clacking. Thank you for your continued readership and support. Until next week…Blessings and Peace!

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