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7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

Progressions in technology and global inter-connectivity have made writing more desirable today than ever before. Personal virtual notebooks, massive audiences and the increasing ease in which they can be reached – a few strokes of the keyboard and our opinions can traverse the world, gathering momentum and unifying voices from all corners of the globe.

However, while it may be more convenient to get started on your next piece (blogs and websites are revolutionizing the game), it has become more difficult to experience the essence of the activity itself. As much as we’re currently writing to influence others – to give advice or express opinion – we risk losing sight of the serenity that can accompany the activity. All in all, if you truly want to start writing, follow the tips listed below .

1. Write for Yourself

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” –Robert A. Heinlein

Figure out what it is that you want to gain out of writing. Do you want to shoot for the stars and make a career out of it? Or do you want to formulate a hobby around writing, embark on personal poetic endeavors and journal your way through life? If you’re interested in the latter, keep reading, otherwise skip to the next point if you’re looking to profit off of your pieces. Learn to rely on writing as a tool at your disposal. Journal your thoughts and ambitions, record your to-do’s and achievements. Not only does it help you to organize yourself and your thoughts, but it prompts you to actually sit down for several moments a day and have your time with the keyboard or pen.

2. Don’t Expect to Make a Living

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” – Robert Benchley

If you happen to decide that you want to begin a career as an author, find out first how you can live without paying any bills for several years. Unless you have the means at your disposal and some phenomenal luck, don’t expect to profit off of writing at the snap of a finger. Thankfully, the world in which we live today is so connected that there are a number of paid gigs available for freelance writers. However, even these require a reputable portfolio blooming with published articles. It’s not impossible, nor is it even that difficult – it just requires a ton of effort and even more time. If you don’t want to set yourself up for failure, treat it as a hobby at first and then see where it may take you.

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3. Write, Write, Write

Writing is its own reward” – Henry Miller

If all you do is write, then you’re never doing it wrong. If you’re truly passionate about writing, let it infect your mind to the point that you always find your fingers typing away at something. Essays, blogs, short stories – there are so many ways in which you can let yourself become addicted. The number one piece of advice that is circulating from mouth to ear all over the world is that you have to start with a blog. Everyone’s doing it. Start one for yourself and commit to it. One of the hardest things to do is to find time. If you work full-time and run a family, it’s very difficult to seclude yourself and fire off a few paragraphs or pages. Many authors convey the notion of waking up two hours before starting their day jobs just to write. If you don’t have the time, make the time; writing is a costly investment that can offer ample rewards – mostly intangible in nature.

4. Learn to Share Your Work and Absorb Opinion

Beware of advice—even this.” – Carl Sandburg

It may be one of the most terrifying things you can ever do: to show someone a piece of writing that you’ve poured your efforts into. Aside from the A+ essay you bring home to mom or the proposal you’ve stitched together at work, it can take a lot of courage to put yourself out there and expose yourself to potentially critical feedback, which leads to the next point of adequately absorbing opinion. If you can’t take the criticism, don’t play the game of writing before the public eye. Writing is an immensely subjective activity – be prepared for objective perspectives that can shatter your confidence. In contrast, don’t become over-reliant on praise either. Take all positive feedback with a grain of salt, especially if the source is from a friend or someone who just wants to be supportive. On the other hand, don’t be devastated from negative opinion – it can be a necessary voice that you ought to hear, a vessel through which progress can be made.

5. Finish Your Work

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth

Any writer will agree that it’s an extremely difficult thing to do – to wrap up certain pieces. You’re probably not a born writer if you have a closet (or desktop folder) filled with story after uncompleted story. This more so applies to those who dare to delve into the imaginative world of fiction writing. Deadlines can help you wrap things up and keep an end in sight, as it’s easy to get carried away. Find a way to stay inspired and committed to whatever it is you’re writing. At any rate, ensure that once you commit to something, you never let the flame dim and die – fiction or non.

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6. Let Your Pen/Keyboard Guide You

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way” – E. L. Doctorow

Don’t expect to plan every chapter of your next book, or every topic of your next string of blogs. You discover so much more than you’d ever be able to brainstorm halfway through writing any given piece. In reference to the aforesaid point, this is one reason why a piece may remain unfinished; it can certainly be overwhelming. The magic that sprouts from writing is in its ability to captivate not only the readers reading but the writers themselves.

7. Connect

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thanks to the increasing inter-connectivity of the world, it’s so easy to write before a world-wide audience, to gain experience and the know-how’s to be great author – you’re doing it right now. Take it a step further and reach out to a published author, someone who’s been there and done it (and even made it), and ask them for their number one piece of advice. I did, several years ago, and in response I was told to write and never stop writing, prompting me to convey it as the third point listed in this article. Beyond the actual tip, it sticks in your mind every time you think about writing, fuels the fire that serves to inspire you.

Subsequently, if you want to start writing with the intention of turning it into a profitable talent, expect to be on the road towards success for quite a while. The best you can do is to immerse yourself in the experience, let it better your day-to-day life and see where it ultimately takes you. 

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Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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