5 author quotes to celebrate National Day on Writing

5 author quotes to celebrate National Day on Writing

Today you might have noticed the hashtag #WhyIWrite on your newsfeed. That’s because today is National Day on Writing! By using #WhyIWrite, writers across the country have shared why they are dedicated to their craft. Today, I shared why I write:

The National Day on Writing was founded by the National Council of Teachers of English to bring more immediacy to the power of writing and encourage others to get involved in celebrating it. I wanted to share with you 5 quotes from some of my favorite authors on why they love to create and inspire through writing:

  1. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things: read a lot and write a lot.” ― Stephen King
  2. “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” ― Toni Morrison
  3. “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ―Ernest Hemingway
  4. “I’ve no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out; it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms.” ― J.K. Rowling
  5. “If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.” ― Margaret Atwood

 

How about you? Why do you love to write? What are you working on? Please share in the comments!

 

 

How to Write Clear and Concise Content

How does one write well?

In his book On Writing Well, William Zinsser said the following:

“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”

Writing is hard. You will never be a “writing expert.” Writing is an art; it takes practice.

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Zinsser also stressed that as a writer you must present clear and concise copy to your audience. Your work should be to the point, yet comprehensive to your readers. But, how can you achieve both?  Here are some tips I adhere to when writing:

keep your sentences short

Keep your words, sentences, and paragraphs as short as you can. If you write directly, you will keep your reader’s interest. No one wants to read run-on sentences; it may steer them off track. Keeping your sentences short will also keep your readers engaged. It’s a certain tempo that will excite them and will result in gaining their interest to read more.

write how you talk

Be yourself and stick to your own voice. Use words you know, or else you’ll confuse yourself and your readers. Writing how you talk will personalize your content, and readers will stay connected to you. I find it best to write like you are having a conversation with a friend. You don’t need convoluted sentences to get your point across. Stay true to yourself, and your readers will stay true to you.

Avoid UNNECESSARY words and phrases

Eliminate words that cause a lull in your work, like adverbs and adjectives. Words like “very” or phrases like “it’s crucial to,” or “in order to,” bury your important information. Getting rid of these words or phrases sharpens and cleans up your content. Adjectives and adverbs are often unnecessary; you can remove certain words and still get your point across.

check your facts

The last thing you want to do as a writer is portray false information to your readers. The notion to “back up your facts” was ingrained in our brains throughout grade school. Not everything you read is true, so you need to use a credible source if you are presenting facts or statistics in your content. If you throw around false information, then you will lose your readers and your credibility as a writer.

revise and rewrite

All the time. If you want to provide clear and concise content, you need to proofread.  Read your content 3-4 times. Check for spelling, grammatical errors, tone, and consistency. Nothing can devalue your work and reputation faster than publishing error-ridden content. Edit and create clean copy; it will strengthen your writing and will build trust among your readers.

As you digest these tips, remember to have your own style when you write. These practices are helpful, but you don’t want to write like a robot. Bring your own flair to your writing. Readers don’t want boring content!

Did I miss anything? Feel free to share practices you keep to produce clear and concise copy!

Five Best Practices to Generate Blog Ideas

I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blog post to the art of writing a blog post. Now, before you exit out of this website, hear me out.

As I said in my last post: writing isn’t easy. I’ve been scratching my head for the last two days thinking about what I should write about for my second post, and I realized that my lack of decision should be my topic. As writers we are always thinking: What are people interested in? What do they want to read?  I just want to give the people what they want!

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This is a common dilemma most writers face. Most of the time we have no idea what to write about, and what we do write about is usually a shot in the dark. So, the next time you are struggling to come up with ideas, try some of these practices that have worked for me:

1. Read: Literally gorge yourself with text. Spend your day reading as much as you can with whatever you can get your hands on. Take time to read news articles, op-eds, opinion pieces, books, articles, and blogs. The more you read, the more you’ll learn, and the more you learn, the more you will realize that you have an opinion on just about everything.  You’ll become inspired, and the words will flow naturally.

I read a lot. I spend my entire day (when I am not diligently working, of course) reading as much as I can. I read articles on women’s issues ( a particular favorite topic of mine), local, national, and global news, and more. I spend my evenings pouring over Jane Austen novels,  diving into the mind of Edgar Allan Poe, and even drive home listening to audiobooks.  By the end of my day, you would think that I am sick of reading, but hey, I have plenty of ideas I can’t wait to put down on paper.

2.  Keep a notebook: If you’re anything like me, you have a notebook for just about everything. A notebook for recipes, a notebook for daily thoughts, a notebook for anxious thoughts, a notebook filled with favorite literary quotes, a notebook filled with sporadic anecdotes about my life, and so on. So, why not add to your myriad of stationary with a notebook filled with blog ideas?

Get a notebook and write down everything and anything you can think of. If you don’t enjoy manually writing things down, type it into your phone. There’s an app for that. Even if it’s a few words, you’ll be glad you got it down, and could probably make sense of it later.

3.  Talk to other bloggers/writers: Seriously. It helps. Not only do you feel better when you have someone to complain about writing with, but you can also help each other come up with ideas. Heck, that’s how I got the idea to come up with this blog post.

Writers need each other. I don’t play into the whole “all writers are constantly competing with one another” bit. Not my thing. We all have our own style, and we all have our own goals to worry about. I couldn’t care less if you are further than me in completing your first book. Good for you. Do you have any tips? Working off of one another is one of the best things writers can do.

4.  Be a social media guru: Don’t let the title scare you, it’s really not that hard. If you want to come up with blog ideas, you should always, always, always check social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and keep up on the latest trends. Follow what’s trending and use those trends to your advantage. You will find that plenty of ideas will stem up from what you see on there.

5.  Go with your gut: I’ll paint the picture for you: You’re walking down the street holding a snow cone, and all of a sudden you think, “I want to write about unicorns and how they really do exist!” You then stop yourself and think that writing about unicorns is the wackiest, most outrageous thing you could ever do. You tell yourself that readers are going to think that you are out of your mind, and perhaps unfollow you after they read your infamous unicorn post. 

Stop that right now. No matter what the idea is, go with it. You will find that sometimes even the wackiest ideas can help shed light on other issues and be connected with the world around you.

Side note: I tried to come up with a way to make unicorns relative for five minutes. If any of you came up with something, please share in the comments below.

I hope these tips are useful, and, if fellow bloggers have any other ideas, please share! I’d love to add it to my list!

Make the Time

Writing isn’t easy. Every writer can attest to this. Trying to put words on paper (or in my case, in a text box) in an eloquent, and meaningful manner can be maddening at times. We have so much to say, but have no idea how to say it. Quite often,  I sit in front of my computer screen and write a couple paragraphs that I think are extremely enlightening,  or seriously on to something magical, and then, seconds after, they infuriate me, and I practically jab the backspace button with my palm until those thoughts disappear and I have a nice clean slate. Then, the cycle continues.

What do I want to write about? That’s the eternal question, folks. I’ve been struggling with finding this answer since July. It was in July when I logged on to this page and realized I haven’t touched it in over a year. A year! What excuse did I have? I didn’t have one. I just couldn’t find the time.

But, seriously. Who has the time? No one, really. If you know that person, I’d like to meet them and give them a firm handshake. If everyone had the time, we would be able to accomplish so many tasks. I personally would be a virtuoso, have a few novels under my belt, and successfully completed the  American Library Associations’ 100 Best Novels list. Not even close. If there is something that I have accomplished, however, it is the realization that you need to make time for yourself.

That sounds a lot simpler than it really is.

Finding that motivation is tough; after a 40-hour work week accompanied with gym sessions, housework, and other daily duties, it’s really tough to say: “OK–time to sit down and write about something illuminating that will make me feel accomplished!”

Do you really want to find the time for it? You already brained enough that day. You don’t want to sit down and rotate those sputtering cogs in your brain and churn something out that you’ll probably hate in the morning. What’s the point?

Nike said it, so I’ll say it too: just do it. That was lame, but it’s true. Finding the time, even scheduling the time will make you feel accomplished at first, and then so much better after you do it. Do it for yourself. Nothing is more important than your happiness. If you want to write, write. If you want to read a book, open up a dang book. You’ll be happy you did.

This blog is going to be a free, open space where I will write about whatever jumps at me in the moment. A majority of this blog will be about writing and reading, with plenty of William Zinsser quotes. Also, get ready for some book reviews, my thoughts on women’s issues, human rights, and some random posts in between. Woo!

If you’re lucky, I might even share some passages from the book I’m working on! But, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, I haven’t even started that yet.