How to Become a Better Writer: be a spy and don’t sit on fake leather chairs

If you’re interested in becoming a writer you will be relieved to know there are no set prerequisites required for you to write. There are however many distractions and barriers (let’s call them evil forces) out there that will conspire against you and do everything in their power to stop you from writing.

Some of us grew up as bookworms and fantasized about becoming the next Dr. Suess and for others, like myself fantasy and writing were never in the same sentence.

Being a writer was never on my list of career choices. Growing up I played teacher or restaurant manger regularly. Throughout school I hated reading. And I never totally understood proper grammar (I still make a lot of mistakes). So in some ways I’m an unlikely candidate for a writer.

But once I started, writing has become a guilty pleasure that I’m now fully addicted too. It’s appealing to me on so many levels, such as: it doesn’t involve talking, leaving the house or require that you even get dressed. Though I don’t know if that’s completely true as I can’t recall the last time I wrote naked, if ever.

In case you already know that you want to be a writer and want to know how to write better, here are 32 things I do to be a better writer (while battling those evil forces):

  1. Journal. It’s a way to write with no agenda, no prescribed criteria. A chance to write what you want when you want.
  2. Do it daily. Eventually you’ll get into a routine and love it so much that no one or thing will get in the way of your writing
  3. Talk to yourself inside your head. It’s a great way to start writing your story. Go ahead, judge me, see if I care I’m too busy writing.
  4. Make time. Carve out a chunk of your day and start writing already. I prefer to write in the morning and before bed.
  5. Schedule it. On busy days where my have set meetings, I set a specific time up to write so it doesn’t get missed.
  6. Shut up and tell everyone else around you to shut up. Well what I mean is get yourself some quiet time.
  7. Have a system to capture it all. I’ve learned the hard way that dogs and cats will eat paper so it’s best not to leave your notebooks or pieces of paper lying around.
  8. Buy good notebooks in purple, white and pink and good quality pens. It will make you feel like a pro and it just feels better.
  9. Squeeze it in. Whether you have 5 minutes or 50, write anyway irregardless of time.
  10. Always have a paper and pen or Evernote with you. You never know when an idea will hit you. Last week I stopped mid run to pop a few of my thoughts into Evernote. I always fear I’ll never remember them.
  11. Curiosity didn’t really kill the cat and it won’t kill you either. In fact if you’re not curious, it’s probably not a long shot that it will kill your writing.
  12. Ask why ALOT. Whether it’s in conversation with another person or in your own head.
  13. Doodle as a primer. I don’t have any scientific proof to back this up, but doodling is a great warm up for my brain. And it’s better than just staring at a blank screen waiting for the words to come to you.
  14. Don’t write while still asleep. Probably an obvious one, but for the night owls out there, like me, when trying to write in the morning do some burpees, dunk your head in cold water or drink coffe if that’s your thing before you attempt to write.
  15. Write on paper as much as possible, especially when you’re feeling stuck or need to draft things out.
  16. Tell yourself you’re a writer and believe it. If you write then you’re a writer.
  17. Tell other people you’re a writer. I know it feels awkward, especially at first and you’ll be worried that people will the ask what books you’ve written. I’m sure it gets less awkward as time goes on, but I don’t really know.
  18. Ignore word counts, unless it’s for an article or essay contest. Write however long or short you want.
  19. Accept that your writing is a work in progress.
  20. Spend more time writing than on social media.
  21. Write everywhere — in the car, on the train, by the beach, in the middle of a run or during boring webinars.
  22. Be a spy. Not in a creepy invasive way. In a super observant way. Observe others. Observe yourself. You need writing material remember.
  23. Be honest.
  24. Don’t try and fit into a category or type. Write like you want to write.
  25. Take writing courses and read about writing, but above all keep writing.
  26. Believe that the best thing you can do to become a better writer is by writing.
  27. Focus on writing, everything else comes secondary. If you’re starting a blog to write, focus on the words first and design second.
  28. Write in different formats and on different topics, variety is the spice of life.
  29. Don’t underestimate anything. Cats are great writing material too.
  30. Don’t feel guilty for doing it.
  31. Have a comfortable space to write in. Fake leather chairs are probably not your best bet in the summer. That may or may not have been learned from experience.
  32. Be open to ideas, no matter how weird or crazy they may be. While writing this I’ve already thought of possible new topics, such as weird places to write, which will of course include writing naked in a fake leather chair.

You get the point. Write and write often, but just don’t do it naked on a fake leather chair.

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