02 Apr How to Get Started Writing – and Become the Best Damn Writer This Side of the Pandemic
Now that many of us suddenly have a LOT of time on our hands, you may be using that time to pursue a new interest. Writing, perhaps? If so, let’s talk about how to get started writing so you can be the best damn writer this side of the pandemic (apologies – or not – to Clark Griswold.)
Also, I’d like to say, “Good for you!” When it feels like the world is falling apart, it can be so hard to muster to the energy to do, well, anything. And here you are, making lemonade out of an endless supply of lemons. Well done.
How to get started writing
First, I want you to think about why you want to be a writer.
Are you doing this for the sheer pleasure of it, or to make money? Do you want to tell your story – or your family’s story – as a way to preserve family history for future generations? Do you have a unique perspective or story to share?
There’s no right or wrong answer, by the way.
Next, how will you share your gift with the world? If you want to start blogging, here are five tips to get you started. If you want to write a book, scroll down.
5 tips for new bloggers
These tips are a great place for new bloggers to start. If you want to a deeper dive into the topic, check out our free ebook: The Small Business Guide to Blogging. Even if you’re blogging for pleasure, many tips in the book are still relevant.
Do your keyword research
If you want people to find and read your blog, you need to use the keywords people are using when doing a Google search.
So, go to the Google search bar and start typing. See what autofill suggests. Pick one that make sense for the blog post, and use it in the title, first paragraph, and few more times in the body of your blog.
Organize information with subheads
Subheads not only organize the info in your blog, but they make it easier to skim. The easier your blog post is to skim, the easier it is for your reader to find the exact information they’re looking for.
Note all the subheads in this blog post. That’s not an accident.
Help readers get involved
Because our social lives have slowed WAY down, look for ways to engage your readers and let them get involved. If it makes sense, ask a question at the end of your blog post to get a conversation going.
You can also challenge them to do something and report back on their results or progress. If it feels weird to do this at the end of the blog post, do it in your social media post when you share the blog.
Link to other articles
If people are really into the topic you are writing about, make it easy for them to learn more by linking to other blog posts you’ve written. This is valuable for the reader – and search engines love it, too. It sends the signal that you’re a credible source of info on that topic.
Share your blog posts
Once you’ve written your blog post, it’s time to get it out into the world. Share your blog posts on the appropriate social media channels. If you’re writing for a B2B audience, use LinkedIn. If you’re writing for a B2C audience (or for pleasure), share on Facebook and Instagram.
5 tips for writing a book
Writing a book can be both maddening and deeply satisfying. Just keep in mind that if you do get published by a traditional publishing house, you won’t make much – if any – money. Unless you are the next J.K. Rowling, in which case, ignore what I just said.
Start with an outline
All stories follow the same arc: Introduce the main character; introduce a challenge that the main character must overcome; follow the main character as he/she overcomes the challenge.
Sketch out the bare bones of this story arc. If you need to conduct research to write the book, make note of that in the outline.
Fill in notes and ideas
Now that you have your outline, fill it in with notes, ideas and research. Before you start writing, run this by your best friend, spouse or someone else you trust to give you honest feedback.
Set aside time to write
Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Even though you have a lot of time on your hands, you need to be disciplined about writing or you’ll never finish. Schedule time on your calendar, and don’t reschedule.
Create goals to stay on track
Do you want to write five pages each day, or a chapter every week? Create goals that will keep you motivated. When you hit them, reward yourself!
Wrangle readers for feedback
When you are super close to something – like a book – it can be hard to be objective. Does the story make sense? Are the characters fully fleshed out? Is the dialogue believable?
Ask people in your life who are avid readers for their feedback as you go.