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7 Habits Of A Good Writer: Develop Quality Content Your Audience Adores

7 Habits Of A Good Writer: Develop Quality Content Your Audience Adores

If writing was easy, we would all be best-selling authors by now. Whether you’re a career author or an aspiring blogger, I invite you to consider these 7 habits of a good writer so you can develop quality content that your audience adores.

1. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Before you even begin to write, you should ask yourself the following questions:

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  • Who am I writing for and what exactly do they struggle with?
  • How am I going to help them through that struggle?
  • Why do I want to help them? (hint: this is the most important one)

The best way to illustrate this habit is by example, so here’s how I would answer these questions: I write books for busy women who desire to lose fat and get fit so they can feel healthier and happier. They struggle with negative thoughts and limiting beliefs that make it difficult to find the motivation to begin a healthy living plan. I will help them by guiding them in the direction of increased self-confidence and mental strength, which will help them overcome the Mental Monsters they face every day. I want to help women specifically, because I have personally struggled with body-image issues, emotional eating, and low self-esteem myself. While men do face these struggles, they are far less likely to admit it (much less read a book about it), so I’d rather focus my attention on women since that is where I can make the greatest impact as a writer.

Who are you writing for? How are you going to help them? Why do you want to help them? Know the answers to these questions if you want to connect with your ideal audience; otherwise, you might find yourself performing for an empty house.

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2. Brevity is the soul of wit.

The above saying, popularized by Mr. William Shakespeare, is something you should apply today. Do not interpret this to say you shouldn’t write a full-length novel epic in proportion;  however, if you are adding content for the sole purpose of increasing your word count, I’m afraid you might find yourself with all fluff and no substance.

3. Condense, condense, condense.

When you have completed your blog, article, or book I encourage you to walk away from your finished project for at least a few hours (maybe even a few days). Look at it again with a fresh perspective and you’ll probably discover words and sentences that add little or no meaning to your work of art. If it doesn’t need to be there, cut it without mercy. The more quickly you can make your point, the more powerful it will be.

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4. Analyze your competition before you start.

If you’re writing a book about how to become a successful freelance blogger, you should look up other books about that very subject on Amazon before you write a single word. Find the most highly-rated books in that niche and check out the reviews. What did people like the most about this book? Don’t rip-off their ideas, because nobody likes a copycat, but do seek inspiration wherever you can find it. Also, pay attention to the negative reviews, because if you see a common theme in the criticisms, you’ll have an advance heads-up telling you what to avoid in the publishing of your book. You might want to buy a few of the top-rated books in your niche while you’re at it for inspiration that might steer you in the right direction.

5. Talk to (not at) your audience.

Have you ever read a self-help book that was helpful, but you felt like they were talking in words that were over your head, as if they were speaking a different language (I’m talking to you, Stephen Covey!)? If you don’t consider the language your audience speaks, you could elicit the same reaction. Buy magazines that are targeted to your audience and do a little research. For example, if you write for women, you would be wise to buy a few issues of Women’s Health or Shape. Pay attention to the language used in articles and advertisements and decide how you can apply this style to your writing (while maintaining your own unique voice). Your reader should feel like they are having a friendly chat with you over coffee. Unless you’re in the business of writing dry technical manuals, the more conversational your writing, the better.

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6. Feedback is your friend.

Wanna know a dirty secret that helped me craft a book that was so contagious it has now been read by over 20,000 people in 3 short months? My audience wrote it for me. I don’t mean that literally, because that would make me a dirty plagiarizing thief, but it isn’t far from the truth. During the writing process, I would post brief excerpts from my book on my Facebook page to see how they did in terms of interaction (i.e. likes, shares, and comments). This allowed me to quickly identify which ideas were winners and losers. If an excerpt exploded in interaction, I developed that idea further and made sure to highlight it in every way I could. If an excerpt didn’t do so well, this meant it needed to be modified, condensed, or cut. Assuming you have an audience of readers, you might consider giving away advance copies of your book in exchange for honest feedback. Just make sure you actually ask detailed questions like:

  • What did you think was most and least helpful?
  • Are there any sections that seemed out-of-place or beside the point?
  • Did anything seem like it was lacking in detail and needed to be fleshed out in more detail?
  • How do you think this book could be more interesting, helpful, and relevant?

While performing this process requires time and patience, it will greatly enhance the quality and relevance of your work. There is no better editor than the audience you are writing for, so let them help you make your work as powerful as possible. You could even ask them if they’d be willing to leave a review for your book as soon as you’re done, increasing the odds that browsers will consider it a worthy investment.

7. Always produce.

If you are an aspiring writer, the best advice I can give you is this: the only way to get better at writing is to write. People often tell me things like, “I’d love to put a blog out there, but I just don’t think I’m good enough yet.” I know putting your content out there for public consumption is scary, but it’s best to swallow your fear and click “Publish.” The sooner you become comfortable with the fact that not everyone will like your work, the better. Everybody is a critic and there is nothing you can do to change that. And besides, while you could receive some comments that are unnecessarily nasty, others might offer valuable feedback that will help you improve your craft. If you have a hard time finding the time or interest in writing, click here to check out the ultimate writing productivity resource.

Writers: What would you add to this list?

To help the aspiring creative types reading this, I invite you to drop a comment listing any additional habits of a good writer that you feel would be useful. I’d also love to hear questions from aspiring writers who haven’t developed the courage to begin: what is holding you back and how can I help?

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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