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How To Improve Your Writing: 5 Secrets From Hollywood - Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Write Like a Professional

Write Like a Professional

Good writing comes from perfectionism; meaning it lets you identify what isn’t working and how to fix it, and the rewritings hone your technique. Perfectionism is fundamental when you may only have one chance to show your work to an agent or a publisher.

But you also need to stay optimistic, otherwise, you'll get depressed and quit.

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Focus On Keystone Habits

Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. 

Exercise is a good example of this. Once you start to change your exercise habits, it sets off a chain reaction t...

Use “Minimum Viable Effort”

Focus on baby steps. The key to new good habits is to do the minimum and be consistent.

Do not be ambitious at the beginning. That leads to failure. Consistency is what you’re shooting for, so make the hurdle as low as possible.

Make A Plan

Thinking about the details makes you more likely to follow through. 

Just writing down your plan also makes a big difference in effectively committing to your goals.

Belonging To A group

Quickest way to add meaning to your life is to see your group of people more often. 

Not part of a group? Join one. No groups to join? Start one. It’s as easy as texting people to...

Give Your Work A Purpose

It is less about what you do and more about how you see what you do.

Qualities a purpose needs:

  • It's a stable and far-reaching goal. You need something that motivates you and that you can organize your actions around.
  • It involves a contribution to the world. It makes a difference in the lives of people who don’t happen to be you.
Craft Your Story

You have a story you tell yourself about your life — whether you realize it or not.

A trend in the stories that people with meaningful lives tell themselves -  redemption stories: the tellers move from suffering to salvation — they experience a negative event followed by a positive event that resulted from the negative event and therefore gives their suffering some meaning.

The first draft

The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.

The time you put into editing, reworking and re...

Common errors

Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:

  • Overuse of jargon and business-speak, like "utilize" or "endeavor" instead of "use" or "try."
  • Clichés are stale phrases that have lost their impact and novelty through overuse. If you are used to seeing it in print, don't use it.
  • The passive voice. The subject of the sentence should be the person or thing taking action, not the thing being acted on. "Harry wrote this article," is better than "This article was written by Harry."
  • Rambling. When you are not sure what you want to say, it is easy to phrase it in three or four different ways. A single concise sentence is generally better.
Give it some space

When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.

The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.