How to kickstart your writing

It seems everywhere you look these days someone is running a Kickstarter campaign. I love the premise of Kickstarter. The idea is that someone can crowdsource the funding to make their idea become a reality. While we can’t exactly kickstart writing exactly the same way, there are some tips we can do to get moving and improve our writing quality.  In today’s post, I will share four tips for how to kickstart your writing.

Writing is hard work. Sitting around and waiting for inspiration just won’t get you where you want to go. Moreover, working to improve writing is a lifetime endeavor.

Whether working to improve my own writing or helping my students to better theirs, I spend a great deal of time trying to kickstart my writing. I often find these four tips helpful and believe they can take your writing to the next level too.

1.  Write strong sentences

It may seem obvious, but the best way to kickstart your writing is to write strong sentences. At a foundational level, sentences are the building block of writing. Often, any discussion of improving writing focuses on bigger picture issues (clear introduction, using evidence, or crafting an argument). Yet, sentences are the key. Focus on individual sentences and improving them. As you do this, you will transform your writing.

2.  Avoid being overly wordy

Why use one word when you could use four to say the same thing? Quite frequently and many times, I find, identify, and realize that my students or people taking my classes believe mistakenly and incorrectly that using more, additional, and excessive words makes their writing sound smarter, more intelligent, and academic. Clear and concise should be your goal.

3.  Avoid be verbs

Longtime readers know that I hate be verbs.  Avoid them!! This simple rule can help you write stronger sentences, avoid being wordy, and improve your writing tremendously. Do your best Nancy Reagan and just say no to be verbs.

4.  Draft, then revise.

It is always easier to edit than write. Always!  I particularly find that it is hard to focus on the ideas I’m trying to convey while working on other areas such as grammar, avoiding be verbs, or trying to be concise. Like multitasking, focusing on ideas and the technical aspects of writing splits our attention limiting the ability to successfully achieve either goal. In addition, trying to fully formulate writing in your head before putting it down on paper takes longer and is less effective than drafting. Draft, then revise should be the mantra for any serious writing that you’re undertaking.

Kickstart your writing

I believe these four tips are a good start on how to kickstart your writing. However, beyond any simple set of suggestions, your goal should be to get better. No matter your current writing ability or comfort with the writing process, you can get better. All it takes is a commitment and focused effort on the process of writing. Too often, I don’t think we focus enough on the writing process.  I argue this is a mistake.  While you can improve a manuscript by working on it and this is important, I believe you can improve all future writing by also focusing on the writing process. Investing in an improved process will pay dividends for years.

Happy writing!

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