A search for easy writing tips typically leads to half-wit lists of do’s and don’ts. Forget that.
The trick to writing is to understand that your brain has two very different functions when you’re writing.
One function is the creator. The other function is the critic.
It’s the right brain, left brain dilemma. The right brain springs from the subconscious. It’s revolutionary. The left brain lives in a cubicle and prefers rules and structure. It’s linear and predictable.
Easy Writing Tip #1: Ignore the Critic.
Embrace the revolution, because if you try to write a first draft with the critic, you’ll totally block the creator. You’ll make writing a struggle. It’ll be like trying to drive with your foot jammed on the brake.
You won’t get anywhere. Nothing is ever good enough for the critic. The critic plays it safe. It clings to the familiar and fears anything new or daring.
When the creator is at work, you have to ignore the critic. Later, after the creator has gushed forth a fountain of ideas, the critic gets to play, but not ’til then.
When you’re starting a writing project, lock up the critic and set the creator free. Just let the ideas tumble out of you without judgement.
This is the free-form brainstorm phase. Get the ideas out. Sometimes it’s easier to work with a pen and paper at this stage. Just get the ideas out.
Easy Writing Tip #2: Vomit Ideas.
Don’t try and arrange your ideas. Order doesn’t matter at this point. This is pure creation. Think of it as mentally vomiting. It’s important to be as relaxed as possible. A tense or forced mind will not be creative.
Tension triggers the fight or flight mechanism of the brain, which actually shuts down the higher function of creative thought.
While brainstorming an article do not censor anything. Remember, you really don’t know where your thought processes will take you. Bad ideas typically lead to good ones.
If you tossed out the bad ideas you’ll never get the good. Also, it seems when we reject every idea our mind serves up our mind will quickly stop trying.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it….Keep the channel open…”
The Life and Work of Martha Graham by Agnes de Mille.
Easy Writing Tip #3: Cheat.
If you don’t have any ideas, search the internet for related topics. Use this to stimulate your imagination. It’s okay to borrow short snippets of text from websites if you credit the source.
Or, you may want to simply write it in your own words. I usually go a little overboard when I’m gathering material for an article. In the end, I’d rather cut and condense text to make a stronger article than pad it because I don’t have enough material.
Finally, when you have an abundance of notes, it’s time to arrange them in a logical order. This is your outline.
Let it guide your writing. Write a first draft, but still ignore the critic. Forget punctuation and grammar. You only want to cobble a rough draft together at this point.
Once you have a rough first draft complete, let the critic out of its cage and begin polishing and rewriting. Now you can focus on word use, spelling, grammar and style.
Except in a few specific circumstances, the most effective writing tone is casual. I like to think the first rule of writing is to be gentle and kind. Write in a tone a though you were speaking to a dear friend over a cup of coffee.
Easy Writing Tip #4: Write the First Paragraph Last.
Once you have your article nearly complete, write the first and last paragraph. The first paragraph foreshadows the contents of the article and also rouses curiosity by implying a question.
This will draw the reader into your piece. The last paragraph will restate the core idea of the article and end with the tone you wish the reader to remember.
Depending on the purpose of your writing, you may want to encourage the reader to take action.
Easy Writing Tip #5: Embrace Your Superpower.
Your writing will improve greatly and become much easier if you study Strunk and White The Elements of Style.
It’s a tiny book and easy to master.
I keep a copy near my desk. If you follow the rules of Strunk and White, your writing will be clear, crisp and effective.
Writing really is a superpower, The Elements of Style shows you how to kick it up a notch.