Latest Update: Added Sacha’s 5 Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block.
Want to write every day? Chris Brogan says “The secret to writing every day is to write every day” – so just Write Every Day. He offers some tips on how to find the time to do a bit of writing, and you’ll probably find that if you do it a bit more often, you’ll get better at it.
- The Day You Became a Better Writer – Scott Adams says he went from being a bad writer to being a good writer in a one day course. Here he passes on the majority of what he learned. It’s surprisingly simple.
- Writing Tips from Paul Graham – How to Live.org list great writing tips from writer and entrepreneur Paul Graham. A good list of tips to get started (or re-started) with any writing project.
- Copyblogger’s Copywriting 101 – a short course in copywriting. Yeah, copywriting is for ads and things, but how much of what you’re writing is trying to sell something, even if it’s just an idea? Hey, I’m trying to sell you this free copywriting course right now. Full of the sort of advice that sounds really obvious once you’ve read it, which is usually the best sort. Starting with “Donâ€™t Read This Post (or the Kitty Gets It)!” – how can you resist reading that?
- Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes by Stepen King. He knows what he’s talking about. Ten minutes doesn’t sound like enough time, but he follows his own advice on getting to the point. If you only read one article linked here, this should be the one.
- George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language – a fairly long essay. If you’re short of time, at least skip to the bullet points towards the end starting “Never use a metaphor…” The whole thing is good, but those rules are the highlight for me.
- Angela Booth’s Ten Best Writing Tips – she’s been doing it for 25 years, and here she shares a few tricks and secrets. Tip Eight sounds especially good – keep writing and editing apart. When you’re writing, just write, and let it flow. Edit afterwards. “If you don’t have trouble talking, how can you have trouble writing?”
- You Don’t Need Permission to Create from Ripples – some good, practical advice for getting started and getting better.
- Writerisms and other Sins – a useful guide to overused and misused language.
Getting it Right
Grammar and spelling mistakes aren’t a problem in a quick email to a friend. In business emails, they can give a poor impression. If you’re trying to take writing more seriously, though, getting it right starts to become important.
- Do You Need a Grammar Brush Up? from the excellent Will Write for Chocolate comic strip. The strip hasn’t been going for too long, so it won’t take you too long to start from the first one and work your way through. It’s worth it.
- Paul Brians’ excellent collection of Common Mistakes in English.
- Paul’s collection of Commonly Misspelled Words.
- Paul also has a selection of Non-Errors – things that people will often tell you you’re wrong about, but which are perfectly standard or at least common enough to be ok.
- Also see Paul’s main introductory page to these pages.
- Chris Brogan says you should Front Load Your Writing – get the important point out there right at the start. Follow up with explanations, if you like, but a lot of people will only read the first line or two, so make sure they get your message too. The same point is made by Active Voice in the next article…
- Don’t bury the lede – make sure you get your main point across.
- Brevity – good.
- Writing for Busy People from Mozillazine. Just a few quick points – practicing what it preaches – good advice. (Via Lifehacker.)
- Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing – via 43 Folders, where people rightly point out rule eleven in the comments – don’t centre-align your text
- Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don’t Want to Work at Writing – just as valuable if you are a writer, or do want to work at it, but this is an excellent collection of easy tips. (Thanks to Gary for pointing this one out to us.)
- Lazy Listing – by Angela Booth – using list-making to help you write.
- Poynter Online – Fifty Writing Tools – an excellent series of articles on tips and tricks to improve your writing.
Planning and Organising Stories and Plots
- D*I*Y Planner article about a book on using index cards for writers.
- D*I*Y Planner on Agile Plotting – using index cards to arrange your plot.
- Chris Brogan writes at D*I*Y Planner about Story Maps – a method of plotting the good and bad events effecting your characters.
Writing for the Web
- SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. My own take is that generally, you’re better off writing and designing your site with people in mind, and the better search engines get at their job, the better you’ll look. Leave it to Google to improve your results. That said, there are some great tips at SEO Copywriting Techniques that Readers Love – ways to optimize for search engines that make things better for people, too.
- Writing Content for your Blog from ProBlogger’s Blogging for Beginners series – some good stuff for everyone, not just beginners. I’m sure we could benefit from mixing our sources more, rather than just posting ten things in a row from Make:, then doing the same thing the next day from Boing Boing.
- Scannable Content – from ProBlogger – on making your writing easier to scan through without reading fully. People often won’t read a whole article on the web, so making your content scannable could at least mean they’ll get the idea of what you’re trying to tell them. Little things like using bits of bold can help
- Writing Gooder at ProBlogger – some excellent advice for writing. Aimed at bloggers, but just as relevant if you’re writing articles or even a novel. “Once you have the mad writing skillz, nothing will stand in your way of taking over the blogosphere.”
Fighting Writer’s Block
- 5 Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block from Sacha. Sounds like writing a quick blog post about how to deal with writer’s block is a pretty good way to deal with writer’s block. Meta.
- A great post from Performancing – aimed at bloggers, but most of the ideas should work for other writing too – How to Beat the Blank Page of Doom.
- A quick tip from Sacha – writer’s block? Just read for a while, then write about anything you read that interested you.
- Merlin on turning procrastination into a shitty first draft.
- Using a thesaurus to brainstorm – from Angela Booth.
- Beat the Block – a collection of tips from the Ink Shrink.
- Eliminating Writer’s Block – from Angela Booth again. Includes the neat trick of deciding not to write – then you’ll want to
- Angela Booth’s Psych yourself out of a writing block – a simple bit of mind-trickery to jolt you out of a block.
- Hack Your Way out of Writer’s Block, by Merlin Mann.
- Writing, Briefly, found via Merlin (again).
- Keeping a Journal can be a good way to get your writing flowing every day.
- Innowen suggests you get a little help from your friends – “Friendstorming, or the art of generating ideas with a little help of your friends has helped me generate ideas in ways that I’m not sure I would’ve found otherwise.” Not just a great suggestion, but a great new word too – friendstorming.
- Where do you get your ideas from? – the question all writers seem to dread. Neil Gaiman has a go at answering it. Turns out he makes them up. From his head. Good reading, actually, this.
- Use Your Imagination – How to get the story rolling in your head before getting it down on paper.
- Writing From Your Life – from Angela Booth. Some tips on how to get the best from your own experience and imagination.