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10 Tips To Write Better, Faster And With Insight

10 Tips To Write Better, Faster And With Insight

When it comes to most skills, practice usually makes perfect. The more we do it, the better we become at it. Easy, right? Well, with writing, this isn’t always so simple. Transcribing your thoughts onto paper quickly and efficiently is pretty challenging for anyone, no matter how often they write.

They don’t call it writer’s block for nothing.

It can actually become more difficult to write well as you start to write often, resulting in stagnation or the output of works that aren’t really your best. Fortunately, there are practical and applicable tips for improving your writing and ensuring that the quality keeps growing. Here are just a few of them:

1. Write in silence or with music that helps you focus.

Let’s face it: the music we like is pretty distracting, especially the type of music with strong lyrics.

That said, some of us like white noise over silence. For me, writing in a coffee shop is actually preferable to writing in my office.

Everyone is different in this case, so it’s important to identify the best method for getting you focused, whether it be classical music, techno, or even nature sounds.

The more focus you have, the easier it will be for you to write quickly and in one setting.

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2. Outline what you want to write, first.

You want your work to be useful for the people who read it. The trouble is that our scattered thoughts tend to lead to essays with a flow only we understand easily.

This can be avoided by simply thinking through what you’re going to write before you start rambling away. Granted, it’s still important to let yourself be inspired as you’re putting the words together, but structure will help you keep everything organized and on point.

3. Read more.

You’ve probably heard this a million times, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The best writers are the best readers.

This is because reading ensures that you’re still learning and consuming content. The details of writing include the ability to form phrases and transitions that exhibit expert writing skills. Most of these “details” are picked up subconsciously as we read books and news articles consistently. In fact, I personally take this to the extreme by always opting for Closed Captions and subtitles for all of the visual media I consume, which includes movies, television, and even video games.

It may seem excessive, but this allows you to draw from a larger pool of words and expressions that keep your writing fresh and unique.

4. Observe and travel.

If reading helps you learn the details, observation helps you learn the big picture. New experiences and ways of thinking are crucial for anyone who wants to keep their momentum going.

With writing, we sometimes fall into a rut. We start writing about the same things in the same ways, and we run out of things to say. That’s why you need to have the traveler’s mindset.

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Always be on the lookout for new sources of inspiration. That hiking trip that your friends are going on? Instead of flaking out, go with them and write about it.

5. Kill your comfort zone.

Writing can be like a relationship. We spend so much time with that person, that we begin to get bored with the relationship. The same goes with writing.

Kill your comfort zone by writing somewhere new. Go to a coffee shop, out in the woods or even sit in your car to write. Force yourself to stay there until you’re finished.

Writing in a familiar environment with too many distractions (like our homes) keeps us from writing faster. But if you’re in a place where the only thing you can do is write, then the task gets done much quicker.

6. Deviate.

Because we get bored with our writing pretty easily, it’s smart to shake things up. You can do this by deviating from your old patterns and trying a new format.

For example, if you write opinion articles a lot, shift gears. Try interviewing someone else and making sense of their opinion. In other words, give objective a writing a shot.

Also, you should always be looking for new places or websites to write for. The excitement you gain from writing for someone else can be the spark you need to reignite the passion you have for writing. This then leads to work that is more meaningful and full of passion that your readers will respond to.

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And it’s pretty easy to find new opportunities. A lot of great websites are always looking for new contributors, so you never know who is willing to give you a shot.

7. Take a break.

Don’t burn yourself out. If you’re at the point when you don’t feel like writing anything at all, take a break for a while. Eventually, you’ll actually miss writing.

For some of you, this isn’t possible because you have deadlines and commitments you can’t drop. Even so, consider taking a vacation when possible to let your mind refuel. You’ll be itching to write again before you know it.

8. Find some rivals.

Nothing inspires me to step up my game more than keeping up with the successes of others. You don’t want to be envious, but it’s OK to view someone else’s success with respect and a desire to catch up to them.

This is a far cry from what some people say is beneficial for the average writer. I’ve been told plenty of times that I shouldn’t dwell on what other people are doing. “Listen to your heart,” and all that.

That’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is that healthy competition spurs the best in us. Make friends that are better than you at writing and challenge yourself to be just as good as them, if not better.

9. Write for yourself.

This may seem contradictory to what I just said, but stay with me.

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When you first start to write, it’s usually for yourself. You don’t have an audience yet, so no one is really expecting anything from you.

Time goes on, however, and people start watching you. It’s easy to start believing it’s more important to write for them than yourself. In some cases, your job is to cater to an audience, which is fine to an extent. But if you want your writing to keep growing and making you happy, then it’s important to set aside a place where you can write for yourself, whether it be a personal blog, a journal or something different.

10. Be yourself.

When people read your work, do they know for sure it’s you? Does your writing give off a flair that distinguishes you from everyone else?

If the answer is no, then make that your goal. Insert some personality into your writing so that it can be just as likable as you are (hopefully).

This looks different for everyone. Personally, my most unique writing is when I let myself be humorous. Stories and anecdotes are also smart ways to invoke some character.

Also, this is a great method for keeping people hooked on your writing. They’ve gotten to know you, which makes your take on the subject far superior to someone else’s monotone offering.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

Stop focusing on the material objects

Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

Plan gifts in advance

We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

Suggest a better way

If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

Here’s what you can do:

Set a healthier pattern

For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

Get a fitness watch

Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Find a physical activity that you enjoy

Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

Try intermittent fasting

This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

Leave bigger intervals between meetings

If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

Plan time to relax

As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

Try to be a little pessimistic

We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

Try waking up earlier

Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

Plan your day the day before

Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

Binge-watching TV series

Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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Running on coffee

Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

Procrastination

Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

5. Stop over-consuming

We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
  • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
  • Can I rent it?
  • Can I make it myself?
  • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

Set your phone on flight mode

When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

The Bottom Line

As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

But this year, promise yourself this:

Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

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