great habits of successful writers

5 Work Habits of Great Writers

by Bryan Wong YH on March 24, 2011

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Today I like to introduce something a little different than the conventional topics we find here but I can assure you there are some similarities with what’s written in this post and blogging.

This post is written by Alvina Lopez, a freelance writer and a blogger.

As bloggers and Internet-based writers, we often place a stronger emphasis on content over considerations about style and work habits. However, for centuries writers have given general writing advice that can still apply to bloggers, despite the differences in medium. The most important aspect of writing that many forget is the actual process of writing. While individual writers have certain idiosyncrasies, as author interviews on magazines like the Paris Review demonstrates, there are a few characteristics that are true of all great writers. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. There is no writing, only rewriting

Because blogging makes it so easy for writing to be instantly published, those of us who are mostly Internet writers may have a tendency to forget the importance of editing. I’m not talking about just a cursory grammar and spell check; I’m talking about the kind of editing in which you write a first draft, let it sit for a few days, then return to it again with a fresh mind and a desire to make substantive changes.

2. Reading may be just as important in improving your craft as is the act of writing

While MFA programs and writer’s conferences have tried, with varying degrees of success, to turn the study of writing into a science, it’s really quite simple write a lot and read a lot. If you aren’t an avid reader, you will never be a great writer. And you don’t have to read high-brow literary fiction to reap the benefits. Just read whatever interests you. Read what you would like to some day write.

3. Find a happy medium between forcing yourself to write every day and waiting for the so-called “muse”

There tend to by two types of amateur writers. One believes that he can only write when the spirit moves him, when the stars have aligned and he feels “inspired.” On the other hand, there’s the industrious aspiring writer who believes that two or three hours of writing even if it’s drivel will somehow make him a literary or journalistic great. Of course, the latter is much closer to the truth than the former, but it’s good to find a happy medium. Establish a set schedule or writing practice routine that leaves room for flexibility. Don’t force it too much, but don’t think it’ll magically come either.

4. Dabble in different genres and forms

Many beginning writers will stick to their specific genre like short stories, magazine articles, or plays. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, consider the benefits of branching out. For one, it helps to write in different styles and modes when you think that your writing may be getting stale. It gives you a break from the monotony. Writing in other genres will also open your mind to different ways of looking at your forte. For example, if you usually write short stories, then writing plays will give you a more finely tuned ear for dialogue, something that can definitely improve your short fiction.

5. Make sure your heart is truly in it. Don’t write for pay or even simply recognition. These are the icing, not the cake

Writing is often a thankless job materially. Unless you hit it big, you’ll be making pittance from it, and even name recognition is no longer as viable considering the millions of online voices clamoring for attention. As such, you won’t ever be a great writer if you place these sorts of rewards above the reward of writing for its own sake. Don’t dream of “being a writer.” Just write, and maybe your dreams will follow.

 

Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.

 

 

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Dahlia Valentine
Twitter:
March 25, 2011 at 12:11 am

Hi Alvina… Even though I’m not really into poetry, I picked up a couple of books on writing poetry a few years ago. I actually use the poetry writing advice I learned in my own articles. Even if you write non-fiction stuff, it still helps to learn about poetry, short story writing, premise and dialogue, as it often comes into play — especially when you want to spice up your web content.
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Riley Harrison March 25, 2011 at 7:07 am

I have always enjoyed Anne Lamott’s quote on the need to write “a shitty first draft.” Beginning writers compare their draft to the published works of accomplished writers and always come up a distant second forgetting or not knowing the number of rewrites and labor that went into the published version. (Now there’s a sentence that could stand a rewrite). I remember reading a beautifully crafted book in which the author casually mentioned that he wrote nine drafts before it was ready for publication.
Riley
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Nishadha
Twitter:
March 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I think the first point is the most important one, I expereience it a lot with my Squidoo lenses, when I go to update them after a while I almost always find something to improve upon.
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Jane | Find All Answers
Twitter:
March 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Hey Alvina ,

Found your post through Blokube. Excellent post! The icing you mentioned in the end is just awesome and for me personally, that keeps me going. I can confidently say that I am an unbeatable writer! This is just because my heart is purely and completely into it!

Cheers again for the great post.
Jane.
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Keith Dennis
Twitter:
March 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for the tips! I agree completely with your tips. Writing everyday whether it is great writing or drivel it good for the creative flow. It’s almost like the blocks are the drivel pouring out to get back to the good stuff.

Reading is probably the most important thing that I do every day in relation to writing. It’s amazing that when my writing gets a little hum drum that just reading a few pages can correct the problem very quickly. Title ideas always pop into my head when I am reading and not thinking about them. I keep a notebook with me to jot them down.

Thanks again!
Keith Dennis recently posted..MLM Blog Help For The Internet Un -Savvy

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Stacy
Twitter:
March 26, 2011 at 3:50 am

You make a great point about re-writing. It is amazing what a difference it make looking at something after walking away. Sometimes it is only a subtle change or two and other times it is some glaring error, either way giving it time makes a big difference. It is something that I need to put more effort into.

Thanks!
Stacy
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Glynis Jolly
Twitter:
March 26, 2011 at 7:22 am

The one I don’t do a good job on is #1. I do a draft and wait a while, but not a couple days. I wait only a couple of hours. I need to work on this more. The other four are no-brainers for me.

I needed the reminder, thanks.

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Alex
Twitter:
March 26, 2011 at 9:00 am

Hello Alvina,

I think many people want to write just because they like it or want to share their thoughts and feelings with the world, but many have to actually live by their writing and writing just because they like it or because a subject has a certain appeal isn’t really possible.

You give some great advices on how to make sure you always have ideas of new content. Usually you can’t accumulate more knowledge without actually reading about it first, so reading is definitely a principal asset when you want to write good.
And then, there are those little worlds where you go to and feel like you are full of happy thoughts :) , yeah, I am talking about your imagination. If you can create a word that will contain a muse in your imagination then that will for sure help you write like a typing machine :)
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High School diploma March 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Nice post man,very well written.

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Ayden @ Look At BigCommerce
Twitter:
April 5, 2011 at 10:10 am

Your second point is fundamental Bryan – but I only realized that recently. In recent times I’ve been reading a lot of books that I normally wouldn’t. Sci-Fci type books. That has significantly improved my writing… or so I would hope so.
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Bryan Wong YH April 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Ayden,

I’m glad you’re finding ways to make your writing more creative. Good Luck to you!

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kavita @ BOllywood Lyrics April 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm

great points…. consistency and quality matters a lot in writting
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Rosemarie April 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

This is quite an inspiring post. When one aspire to become a writer, he writes because we wants to write and not for any other reasons. When you have the real passion, everything will follow. You write according to your preference, you write with your heart.You create something that is uniquely from you. Then you will be amazed to find a great post and surprised that you wrote it and eventually you will be recognized and then rewarded with earnings.

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darkorbit uridium April 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I totally agree with your post especially with #1 writers habit : “There is no writing, only rewriting” because it is what most writers do. They get tidbits and insights from someone’s work and make their own unique output. They just make sure it is different from the other to avoid being accused of plagiarism.
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Web Design Brisbane April 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Well done here! A writer is a writer. When he wants to right for something he’s interested with, he’ll write for it not thinking of any material in return. That’s one of the quality of being a writer and I admired it. They write for their heart and oftentimes produced well-crafted output.

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plumbing May 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

I am very pleased with the third one. I make poetries and composed songs. And I hate it when someone forces me to make one when I’m really not in the mood to do so.

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