This originally appeared as a post on The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose in July 2011.
When Leona mentioned that I managed to produce lots of writing, I worked to share my “secrets.” After the last two columns, on getting your life in order and finding your writing style, I wanted to conclude with a grab-bag of advice that has worked for me.
These are the various tips and tricks I find work well for writing:
Don’t Edit When You Write: Just dump it all out and edit later. Oh sure, you’ll edit a bit when writing out of instinct, but try not to. This keeps you in the flow of writing — and over time I find you get better and better at producing content that doesn’t need as much editing.
Edit For Purpose: When you do edit, edit with your purpose in mind. Is this a quickie blog post? If so, then your audience may forgive a few bits of weirdness or odd phrasing. If this is professional, then edit the hell out of it.
Edit With a Timeframe: Set a time to complete your editing of a work. This may sound odd, since perhaps your work may need a lot of editing, but I’ve found this has helped me quite a bit. First, it keeps me from becoming buried in tweaking a work endlessly. Secondly, it forces me to be efficient. I also find that when I make mistakes despite editing, it makes me better the next time I edit.
Set a Goal: Set a goal for whatever writing you’re doing — even if it’s “get this out of my head.” Then you’ll know when to stop, when you’ve completed your tasks, or when to keep going.
Paper Helps: As technical as I am, I find a piece of paper for outlining, brainstorming, etc., helps a lot. Know when to go from paper to word processor.
Keep At It: Write as much as you can, because you get better over time. Yes, you may be terrible now. You can change that with sheer effort.
Get Feedback: Always get other people’s opinions. You just get better with feedback.
Give Feedback: We can learn from what we do right and do wrong. We also can learn from helping others. No small amount of my writing ability comes from having edited other people’s work (or, as I like to say, “I learn from other people’s mistakes”).
Do Many Kinds Of Writing: Blog, review, do news articles, etc. The more diverse your writing the better you get, the more opportunities you have, and the more lessons you can share among your different kinds of writing.
Don’t Hide: As scary as it is, the more people see your work, the more feedback you get and the better you become.
Teach to Learn: The more you share with people, the more you relearn old lessons and learn new ones.
So there are my remaining tips. I hope they help you keep writing — and write more!
Steven Savage in his own words:
I’m Steven Savage, and I am Geek 2.0.
OK … that sounds either pretentious or obscure, and I try not to be either too much. So what do I mean by Geek 2.0?
Geek 2.0 is a lifestyle. It’s about taking the geeky values of technology, knowledge, creativity, and media as far as possible. It’s a way of life – and a way of contributing to society.
I believe in taking Geekiness farther – into the next iteration, into 2.0.
Steven Savage is the author of the Fan to Pro blog and books (Unlocking Career Insights With Your Hobbies; Convention Career Connection; Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers; Focused Fandom: Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers; Inhuman Resources; and Progeek Rising), has his own web site, and incidentally is the mind behind the popular Seventh Sanctum site. He also writes for Nerd Caliber and Comics Bulletin.