Top 10 Writing tips

Use all five of your senses

“What makes worldbuilding tick? Specific, sensory detail,” says Michelle Hope, who’s previously worked with George R.R. Martin and Blake Crouch. “So my advice for fantasy authors is, simply: you can be as inventive and magical as you want in your work if the writing is detailed enough to seem authentic.” Take pop culture’s current fantasy darling, Game of Thrones. “Crisp air, hooves clattering on ironwood planks, a warm tongue, women’s perfume, summerwine, soft fur. The writing's full of these concrete details,” points out Hope. “So when the author expands the universe to include fantastical elements, we buy it. Dragons? Sure! Face-swapping assassins? Why not? Frozen zombies? Didn’t see that coming, but the author’s sensory style already established the world as believable, so we’re primed to accept anything thrown at us.” That said, abstract clichés don’t count. No-one’s going to be impressed by your description of a man with piercing gray eyes that are the color of a storm. Instead, use the senses to make the reader feel like they're there. “When a reader can viscerally inhabit your world, they won’t question it when you introduce the fantastical into your story,” says Hope. “They’ll take your word for it.”

Stream of consciousness

Stream of consciousness is especially popular in writing circles. Poets and authors have used the technique to spur on ideas and tap into the subconscious mind. The technique translates fairly well to writing music but there’s a few things to keep in mind when trying it. Sit down, relax and grab your instrument of choice, forget everything you know about music theory and rules or structure, and dial in a great tone and pick some effects you like. Now all you have to do is stare out the window and play whatever comes to mind. Let your mind and your fingers guide you and have a little unstructured self jam. After a while, you might notice some patterns, chords and notes you like. Make note of them and start working out a riff or lick you’d like to try building a song around.

Write as few lyrics as possible

Here’s a really good tip if you’re stuck: GET TO THE POINT. When it comes to songwriting simple is always effective. But it’s hard to pull off. You have to be ruthless with your approach. Just ask the Beatles. Their song ‘Love Me Do’ has exactly 19 unique words in it. But it’s still one of the most iconic songs of all time. Simple is a skill that every songwriter should master. It keeps your songs relatable, engaging and catchy. Who doesn’t like a good sing along?

Just Open the Darn Document (Then Keep Going)

Oftentimes, getting started is the hardest part about writing. So, start small. Just open the Google Doc or Microsoft Word document. Then write your first sentence. Momentum will take it from there.

Add Specialized Terminology to Your Personal Dictionary

Grammarly comes pre-loaded with commonly used terms but may not include specialized jargon. If words you use often are being flagged, you can avoid this by adding them to your dictionary. Just open your Grammarly profile, type in the new word, and click “add.” Just be sure your addition is free from typos!

Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure. Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’ Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience. Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people. If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

Hit Just the Right Tone

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether the message you are sending has the right feel. Some phrasing may feel too informal for a formal email. Or, you may be writing while miffed and inadvertently slip into an aggressive tone. Grammarly's tone detector uses a combination of grammar rules and machine learning to analyze your message.

Single or series?

If your readers enjoy this first book, they’ll want to read the next one, too (if there is one) — which will help you sell more copies the next time around. On the other hand, if your main character dies at the end, you’re probably not planning on a Book Two. And that’s okay. If you are writing a series, though, you’ll want your cover to include a reference to the series title — which brings us to the next tip.

Throw Linear Writing Out the Window

Remember the movie Memento (aka The movie from Christopher Nolan that told its story in reverse)? If you’re stuck on a piece of writing or simply need fresh eyes, try writing in a non-linear order. Don’t start at the beginning of your post. Start in the middle. Or the end. Start with your last subhead. Or your seventh. In short, mix up your writing process.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to stay focussed, maintain a flow state and get things done quicker. It was developed in the 1990s by Francesco Cirillo to divide sections of focussed work and break time into blocks of time. Pomodoro in this case refers to the tomato-shaped timer the Italian used to develop the idea during his university days. The blocked time schedule works as follows—25 minute of focussed work (also called a pomodoro) on the task at hand and then 5 minutes of break time. These blocks are to be timed and adhered to strictly with the premise being that short spurts of focussed work can increase mental clarity and focus. It’s also recommended to break specific steps or tasks down into pomodoros—so you could break your routine into a 25-minute pomodoro for chords, a 25-minute pomodoro for lyric writing and beyond.

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