Today I’m starting a fresh new series on writing. We’ll look at various tips and tricks in every installment. Here’s the first part.
Writing well isn’t as hard as it seems to be. Or as it is made out to be. There are certain basics that you should keep in mind to ensure that you are able to pour out your ideas in the best way.
This might sound corny but the first thing is to get down to write. You can start anytime, anywhere. Say you’re at the beach and the sunset stirs up a desire in you to pen a poem for your beloved. Don’t wait till you get home. Don’t wait for your computer. Unlock your phone and start writing, then and there.
There are some wonderful apps for that. You can try Microsoft Word, Writer Plus, Evernote or even the official wordpress app (if you already have a blog). All of these are available on the Google Play Store. They also allow you to save your draft on the cloud and access and edit it later through any other device, via a simple login to your account. Okay, enough with the gadgetry! The key thing here is to stop procrastinating and start writing. There would never be the perfect day, the perfect occasion and the perfect mood to write. You either write or you don’t. Remember that even the most beautiful of classics are edited and re-edited by their authors before we get to lay our hands on them. There is nothing shameful about writing for the sake of it. Sifting through your slush pile, you might unearth a passage of incredible beauty.
When I started this blog, I was a serial procrastinator. I would publish one post per week. After a post was put up, I would chill out for 3-4 days. By that time, my creative itch would take over. I would hastily write something and submit it to my friend Deepak for proofreading. Poor soul would do that despite his busy schedule and then we’d barely manage to post it by the time the seven days of that week were up. This was the norm rather than the exception. Thankfully, I quickly learnt how to write more.
It doesn’t come naturally to anyone but one should always, always, try to visualise. What and how, you say? Be alert to the possibilites of a new post in whatever’s happening around you. Try attuning you mind to the chance of creating a 1000-word post from an idea. For example, you are at a municipal park and you see a crippled man playing with his daughter.
a) There can be a post on his backstory.
b) You can create his wife’s character.
c) Maybe even look at life from his daughter’s perspective. Where’s mommy? Why does daddy fidget nervously whenever I ask about her?
Anything. You get the drift, don’t you?
Also, let ideas play around in your mind. The space between our ears is the most fecund place in the whole universe. Let your mind be open to the possibility of an idea germinating in there. Water them generously when the buds come out. The neurons will take over from there.
You can write a post on anything you want to. Initially, I used to cancel out a lot of things as being unfit for a blog topic. Over time though, my understanding got better. There is nothing not good enough to be included in a post. This is true regardless of your blog’s target audience. Whether you have a fashion or a food blog, you can write anything within the bounds of your interest. The primary requirement is to let the ideas loose.
3. Edit :
You have an idea and you have written on it too. Now you want to post it. So what do you do? You hit the “publish” button. No!
Editing a post is as important as writing it. When the ideas are flowing out of your fingers and onto the screen, you might not realise the small mistakes that have crept up. A spelling mistake here, a bad grammar usage there, a missed comma somewhere else. These are things that might not catch your eye at that time but make an awful lot of difference to the final output. They also determine whether readers love your post or feel reviled by it. No one likes to read posts that are poorly written and awfully edited. You’re asking a person to spend 5-10 minutes of their life, minutes they’ll never get back, on your post. Make sure they get a return on their investment that forces them to come to your blog, again and again and again.
Now, no one comes equipped with the knowledge of grammar and usage from their mother’s womb. What can you do if you are weak? Read. This is the best thing you can do. Read what, you say? Anything you can lay your hands on. Not only does reading help improve your grammar, it also provides you with knowledge that you wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise. Like reading this post. 😀
It also makes sense not to publish your post as soon as you’ve written it. Suppose you had a major fight with a friend on a topic over dinner. You write a piece on that same topic right after the incident. Now, it is better to sleep over the draft and revisit it first thing in the morning. You’d be surprised by the number of lines you’d want to keep out of the final draft. It’d also help with the proofreading.
4. Research :
This is another aspect that becomes especially crucial when doing a post based on some fact or real-life news. When a new reader comes to your blog and reads a post, he is simultaneously evaluating you. How good is this blog? Should I follow it? What kind of content does this have? Every single new reader does this. Never mind the number of followers (more on that some other time), a person coming to “read” will always want your posts to be factually correct. You can’t write that the British never invaded India and get away with it, no ma’am!
This means that you have to be absolutely sure of the facts you’re mentioning in your post. An easy way is to look them up online. Now there’s a catch in that too. With the vastness of the internet, there are any number of bogus sites that will peddle garbage as news. Don’t believe everything you read on the net or on social media (Oh but you already knew that, didn’t you?). You might even find “news” that hasn’t even happened, like the cause of the Pizzagate. Esteemed news outlets like the BBC, CNN, TOI, The Hindu etc. are less prone to doing this. So when you provide a fact or figure on your post, make sure you have the appropriate hyperlink in place. From a bonafide source. Besides corroborating your point, the hyperlink would make sure your reader knows you are genuine, not phony like the unscrupulous websites.
That’s it for today. The next part comes soon.
Do share your thoughts and questions in the comments section.
Thanks for reading.