By Rachel Summers
Writing is all about voicing your own opinion.
You can write about any subject in any format, whether you’re a blogger, a playwright, a novelist, a freelancer, a screenwriter, the list goes on and on.
However, if you’re new to the industry, you’ll have a long way to go before you become one of the best. As with any profession, you’ll experience hurdles and obstacles along the way in situations where you’ll have to learn from your mistakes.
To give you the best possible head start, we’ll explore ten key aspects of writing that you should avoid.
1. Don’t Set a Path
There’s no set path in the writing world. Imagine you wanted to be a lawyer. You’ll go to university, learn everything you need to know, get a job at the bottom of a firm and then you’ll work your way up.
The writing industry has no structure. One moment you could be writing as a freelancer and the next, one of your blogs has gone viral, and you’ve got blogging requests coming in from all angles. As a rule of thumb, do what works for you. Just take things one step at a time.
2. Don’t Be Someone You’re Not
Everybody is different. There’s no point in writing if you’re going to copy the same style and language as one of your writing idols because that’s not you, that’s copying.
Experiment with some different writing styles and formats and see what works best for you. Most importantly, find the style and format that you enjoy.
With this aspect of writing, you’ll get the chance to experiment to find your feet in what kind of writer you’ll be. The more you experiment, the more you’ll discover your own style, the more you’ll enjoy writing and the more productive and successful you’ll be.
3. Never Stop Brainstorming
Even when you’re applying for freelancing jobs, never stop thinking about what you can write about. Maybe you want to publish a book; maybe you want to become a food blogger, whatever you want to be, constantly be thinking about how you can move forward. Never forget to write your ideas down and keep referring to them.
Keeping a journal or ‘thought diary’ is one of the easiest ways to jot down your thoughts as they come to you. It’s also important that you refer back to these thoughts when you can. You never know when you’ll be able to combine two ideas into one winning idea.
4. Don’t Get Disheartened by Feedback
If you’re working as a freelancer, the chances are that not every job will be a five-star rating. When that inevitable low rating comes in, don’t let it break your stride. As with any business, your services won’t be for everyone. Simply take on board the advice, better your skills and move forward.
5. Never Forget the Basics
Spelling, grammar, punctuation, language, format and structure. These are just a few aspects of writing which are essential to master if you want to succeed. Even if you have deadlines closing in on you rapidly, never forget the basics.
Always take your time when checking over your work. One mistake to the wrong client and it can seriously damage your credibility and your reputation.
6. Don’t Get Envious
You may be reading a blog or an article by a writer, and you’ll notice thousands of shares and comments, don’t think ‘Damn, I wish I had that kind of engagement’, you’re just starting out, and it will come with practice.
Take on board the positives and move forward, don’t hate someone because of their success.
Every master of any skill started as a beginner at some point in their lives. As before, take each day as it comes and take your writing career one step at a time. Be open to new opportunities and really explore the multitude of options that are available to you.
7. Don’t Lock Yourself Away
As with any career, life is all about balance. It’s easy to take on a ton of work or to sit down to work on a bulk load of projects, but you’re confining yourself to your desk. Get outside, go for a walk, see some friends and family members. Don’t forget to live your life.
With mounting deadlines and pressure from clients, especially if you’re freelancing, it’s easy to get caught up with working all the time. However, if your aim is to work as a blogger for yourself, it’s important that you set aside time for yourself to explore your ideas and your own concepts.
One piece of advice to live by is to dedicate time aside every other day to write an article for yourself to go on your blog.
8. Never Stop Reading
Whatever format you love the most, whether it’s ebooks, stories, fan-fiction, articles, blogs or research studies, reading is your greatest friend as a writer. By exploring new worlds, concepts and ideas, reading can open your mind up in new and exciting ways.
Not only will reading teach you so much more about writing, as well as tips on aspects such as sentence structure and new concepts, it will also help you to take a break from everyday writing, giving you a chance to relax and to breathe.
One other piece of advice to live by is stepping out of your comfort zone now and then. You may like a specific genre of book or author, but it can change your world by going into a bookshop and asking for a random recommendation. You never know what you’ll be reading next, and you might even discover a new favourite.
9. Don’t Avoid Tips and Advice Pages
At the Olympics, there can only be one gold medallist. However, in the writing world, there is room for an infinite number of successful writers. It is one aspect you should never forget.
Many writers are happy to share their experience and advice with the rest of the community, so take on board what they are saying and never dismiss it. One piece of advice could change your life.
Some websites, such as Writer’s Digest, are dedicated help you be the best you can.
10 Never Give Up
Nobody who wanted to get somewhere amazing ever had an easy ride. Whether you wanted to climb Mount Everest or become President, it’s a struggle to get to where you want to be.
No matter how hard life is for you and no matter what it throws in your face, never give up, keep digging, keep tapping, keep scribbling and stay motivated.
Rachel Summers is a freelance writer whose passion is helping students get the most out of their learning journey. She started out as a writer and journalist in the newspaper industry, including Top Canadian Writers, before breaking out to go freelance and follow her own passions. Her writing is designed to help you get the most out of college. You can find me on Twitter.