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How to Be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit

Time

Writing takes time. It means you will need to find that time. 

You probably have to do something else for a living in the beginning, but don't develop expensive habits or consume hobbies that will prevent you from writing.

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10 Tips on Writing
  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. 
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never...
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.

Writing and thinking

...Writing and thinking have always been a sort of ‘chicken and egg’ issue: which comes first – do I read and think and then start writing, or will the thinking only really come wh...

Writing: turning ideas into practical things

‘Writing’ is the formal processes that turns nebulous ideas into a concrete proposal that can be assessed without the author's intervention.

The writing process
  • Step 1: Messy, Informal, Scribbly ... Write down anything that jumps from your research or any crazy thought.
  • Step 2: Creating a Skeleton for the paper. Come up with sections, subheadings.
  • Step 3: Crystallise core arguments. Use stickies to make it more visual.
  • Step 4: Add the words. This is where most people start with, but it succeeds only because of the previous steps.