Simple Writing Practice Tips To Improve Your Writing
I started reading a new book the other day, Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg. It was a Mother’s Day gift from my 14 year old son. It’s all about writing practice – well what I’ve read so far.
One of the key take homes for me has been the concept of writing practice and that my copywriting work is not the only writing practice I need. I need to develop other kinds of writing.
The other point is timed practice. But, is it necessary to put stress on yourself to write for a set period, then stop? Let’s find out.
Raw thoughts only, no punctuation
Natalie’s 2nd chapter, First Thoughts is just that. It’s about writing what first comes into your mind. The raw thoughts, the unedited cut.
It’s not about editing. Which is a hard thing not to do as you write. But with practice, you do get used to just capturing your thoughts on paper or computer and not picking up typos on the way.
I started this with an eBook I’m currently writing. Ok, so I did cheat a little. I structured the chapters but then I just wrote. Whatever came into my mind.
If I needed to research something or quote a specific reference, I left it. I just continued writing.
It’s all about getting the story out there. Unleashing that creativity in you. Tapping into that emotion that comes out.
Regular Writing practice
Regular writing practice does help improve your writing – I can vouch for that too. I am also fond of Natalie’s analogy, that writing is like running. Some days it’s hard, and you don’t want to get out there and run. But when you do, you feel better about it. By consistently practicing, you get better. Same as writing.
I’m sure you’ll find the same. When you haven’t written for awhile, you find it hard to get started.
So while I’ve been reading this book, I’ve decided that every morning (during the week) I’ll do writing practice. And so far it’s helped.
Timed Writing Practice
As Natalie says, “the basic unit of writing practice is timed exercise”. It can be 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever you decide.
Setting yourself a time to write each day or every second day is the first step. Then it’s about allocating the amount of time that you’re going to spend writing.
You might argue that this puts undue stress on yourself. But trust me, it doesn’t.
You don’t make any goals to get a blog written in that session or that you write an eBook chapter. It’s just creating the opportunity and making the time to write. When the time is over you stop.
My helpful hint is to set a timer, so you can just absorb yourself in the task.
When I do timed writing, it gives me focus, flow and then I’m able to just stop when the time is up.
If I’m writing on the train into the Melbourne CBD, I know I have to shut down my laptop at a certain time. That’s all the time I get. So for that 35 minutes, I’m extremely focused and completely absorbed in my writing practice.
After all, you can come back to it the next day in your allocated writing practice time.
But I can’t think of topics
A blank piece of paper can be intimidating so here’s a few of her ideas to start you off.
- Pick a colour, go for a walk and then write about it
- Start with “I remember when” and write whatever comes to mind
- Visualise a favourite holiday destination, and write about it
- Write in a different place, a café, library and notice the noises, the smells and write about that.
So once you get a taste of these ideas, you’ll see ideas in all the everyday things that you do. So that’s why the pen and notepad is handy to jot down a list of topics down whenever you get some inspiration.
I hope you’ve been able to find the time to read this to the end. I wrote the first draft in 20 mins, and I admit I did fix up some typos on the way.
By giving yourself regular writing time each day, even just 10 minutes, you’ll get better at writing. You’ll find it won’t be so difficult.
Over to you
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