A lot of posts that promise you “how to be a better writer” will lodge several short tips at you, giving you surface-level advice such as “write every day” or “develop a routine”. This isn’t one of those posts.
I’m not against those posts. I think they’re beneficial. If you want to be a better writer, by all means, I think you should write. And the best way to write more is to schedule it, and build it into your routine.
But I think there’s more to it than that. And that’s where this post comes into play.
Instead, I’m going to teach you about something you may never have heard of before.
Let me start by telling you a story.
Sometimes writing just appears
I never knew I wanted to be a writer. It just sort of fell into my lap.
I was one of those kids that had no idea what I wanted to do in my life. But my Mom pushed to ensure I went to college. Her parents said no when she graduated high school, so for me, it wasn’t a question. I would go. End of discussion.
So I went and took all the basics, bobbing along, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
By the time I had to declare a major, I whined to my Dad: What should I do?
Go into business, he said. How about accounting, it’s a great career for a woman, he said. (It was the early 80s, after all. Parents still thought “male career” “female career” at that point.) So I declared accounting as my major, and started taking classes.
I hated it. Loathed it. Still loath accounting to this day. But because I had so many courses in business and accounting, I transitioned to a major in finance. It was the easiest way for me to complete my degree in four years.
And I dabbled in banking and finance for a number of years before moving into auditing. I didn’t really enjoy any of that either, but it did bring home a nice paycheck. And as part of my auditing job, we had to write reports. I’d gather research, produce finding reports, and roll it all up into a finalized analysis we issued to the client.
My boss was a stickler for writing, and I rewrote my work again and again, learning to produce exactly what he was looking for.
When I left the corporate lifestyle permanently for entrepreneurship, I quickly learned the art of soft selling. Even in the world before online marketing, we discovered that if we produced emotional marketing for our wedding photography business, it sold our product for us. Our clients usually came through our door, ready to sign on the dotted line, without us having to do any selling.
I learned it so well, I won awards for my marketing. A publisher contracted with me to write my first book. I picked up a column in the Denver Business Journal on small business marketing. I created one of the first website portals online – a blog – teaching business and marketing skills to photographers.
And through all of that, I discovered my love affair with writing.
Discover your voice
I recently listened to Neil Gaiman talk about writing. He spoke of the first time he submitted a work for publishing. He was young, with a chip on his shoulder, assuming he was a great writer. Being rejected again and again made him question everything.
Today, looking back, he can see his original work wasn’t very good. He hadn’t found his voice. Because finding your voice takes practice. You have to write, write, write, write, and write some more. When his kids were little, he found an old story and read it to them. Nestled deep within, he saw it – a tiny inkling of who he would become as a writer. His voice.
What does that mean? If you haven’t written for a long time, you might question it too.
I had no idea what a writing voice was when I wrote audit reports, or submitted my articles to the Denver Business Journal. I wrote. I followed a pattern that worked, and I created. I revised my work as I learned what my boss/editor wanted. I wrote for them, not for me.
Then I started writing books. And blog posts. I wrote more than a million words in 2019 alone. And in everything I write, I’m there. My voice shines through.
Think of your voice as you would a fingerprint. It’s so unique, that with just a short bit of writing, someone can tell it’s been written by you. Not only the words, but the style.
It’s your choice of words. It’s your sentence structure. It’s the way your paragraphs flow. It’s your thoughts. It’s your approach.
All rolled up into one.
How do you develop that?
You write! It’s what makes you, you!
Master the skills
Every job, every industry, every niche, everything you dive into, it’s your skillset that makes you better.
A house painter wouldn’t try and paint a room with a child’s paintbrush. They invest in the right tools.
A professional baseball player wouldn’t run in his street shoes. They invest in the right tools.
The same applies to a writer. If you want to write, you have to have the skills and the resources that make you better at your craft.
That includes the right chair, the right desk, the right computer.
It includes the right writing program, the right editor, the right work environment.
It also includes the right training. Can a writer write? Of course. But a great writer will always be honing their craft.
I read books on writing all the time. Like Stephen King’s On Writing. He gives you ideas on how he has improved his skills over the years.
I sign up for classes and masterminds to learn more about the art of writing. It gives me a chance to learn from others in the field too.
I read ALL THE TIME. Take a look at my book recommendation list. These are books I’ve read and recommend to you too. Because to be a better writer, you have to expand your world. And the best (and quickest) way to do that is by reading.
These are the physical and mental things you need to do to keep up your skills. To be a writer, you have to think like a writer. And that means learning all you can about the world.
Monetize your writing
Did you know writing is one of the fastest growing career opportunities right now?
Of course, not everyone will tell you that.
Like this site, that said it was physical therapist assistants, occupational therapy assistants, and a solar photovoltaic installer.
Or this one, that said it’s an artificial intelligence specialist, a data engineer, and a behavioral health technician.
Even looking at what the US says will be top growing careers, you’ll find STEM subjects lead the way.
I’m not saying any of these might not be worth a second look … if you’re looking for a JOB. If you want to work 40, 50, 60 hours or more for “the man”, these are all respectable fields.
But they aren’t for everyone. Especially if you’re a woman in your 40s or 50s and want a BIG CHANGE in your life.
There are MANY ways to make money RIGHT NOW with writing.
Who writes those books you’re reading?
Who writes the screenplays for the movies you’re watching?
Who writes the marketing for every company in business?
Who fills the online world with words, graphics, and information?
Who wrote this blog post you’re reading right now?
And right now, I think this information needs to get out there because the world is hurting in big ways.
I’m lucky to be at a point where my daughter is grown. She’s living with me at the moment because of all of this. But she’s fine tuning her own skills, and will be just fine when the world starts to move once again.
But not everyone is that lucky.
I think about a world where one in four has lost their job. Where entire households are now collecting unemployment. And once that shift is turned off, it won’t get any easier. Especially with young kids.
What do you do with the kids when there isn’t school, summer camps, or daycare to send them to?
The partner with the highest salary will go back to work, if offered to return.
The other – how is it even possible?
I think of that a lot. I know what my life was like with a young daughter. I can’t even imagine …
What happens now?
That’s where writing comes into play. If you love to write, it’s worth another look.
Wanting to be a writer and BEING a writer are two different things
A number of years ago, I built a marketing company that supplied articles for social marketing techniques. I had a lot of clients, so I hired a lot of writers. And I found out just how bad writers can be.
Anyone can write. You learn that in elementary school. And that makes some people a little too confident in thinking they’re good. You can’t just write to sell your services to other people. You have to be good. You have to be readable. You have to develop your own voice.
As you’re reading this, you can tell I don’t follow the standard rubric they follow in your local school system.
Instead, I add my voice. I make it personable. I write as if I’m sitting down next to you for a friendly little chat while sipping some of our favorite tea.
It makes it more readable, doesn’t it?
Many – MANY writers don’t get this, especially when they first start out.
I think a great writer has two traits.
1. They LOVE writing. They’d write no matter what because it’s in their blood.
2. They learn. They’re always working to hone their craft. To develop their personality – their voice. And they look for any insight they can to shorten the curve.
Does that sound like you?
If so, I have a great program for you. It’s called The Art of Better Writing.
I created it exclusively for people who want to write better. They already have the writing bug. They’re looking for ways to develop their voice. And find ways to turn that voice into something more.
They want to write better, because they see the potential in our future world.
It’s there. I know it is, because I have written in so many ways this past decade. And no matter what happens as we move forward, it’ll still be there.
How do you become a better writer?
By taking a first step. Are you ready to find your voice?
Let’s get started!