Writing tips for thyself

2022-12-03 21:32

I've been writing here more often, so I've devised a bit of advice for myself to try and keep things neat and tidy and in form going forward. As always, don't listen to strangers on the internet. This might as well be a note-to-self.

So there! What are you even doing here, intruding and reading my notes-to-self?!

Limit your topics

Don't try and say too much. Keep the subject matter restricted. Try not to let things run wild and free, unless that is your intent. Every now and then I realize I've gotten off track; then comes the time to judiciously (or freely) delete large chunks of text that aren't immediately pertinent.

If you catch yourself covering two separate topics in two adjacent paragraphs, you've probably gone astray. Save that second new paragraph for another post.

Don't use qualifiers

Very. Really. Sort of. I think. Maybe.

It's a small one, but I think it makes a different. Avoid qualifiers that will weaken your writing. It is okay if you're wrong; you can always come back and amend something — but you don't need to keep hedging your bets. At the least, it is annoying to read someone who is either unconvinced of their own argument, or is just waffling about on a topic. At worst? The hedges are out of control and you can't even see where the door is.

Distill ideas ahead of time

Use a scrap file that will never see the light of day for getting the junky thoughts out. If something useful gets into the scrap file, you'll know when you come back to it in a few hours/days/weeks time.

There is nothing wrong with free writing - if that's what you want to do (see next section) - but letting ideas ferment and distil before writing can lead to ideas being expressed more concisely.

What do you want to accomplish?

Ask yourself what your aim is. Are you trying to persuade? Do you want to vent and release some frustration? Great! Now, know that that is what you are doing. Are you trying to distil a complicated topic for people who aren't familiar with the subject matter? Great! know it. Keep checking in with yourself as you go and ask if you are staying with it.

If it interests you, write about it

'nuff said.

Don't listen to lists of tips

Unless it's you writing notes to yourself (like I am doing right now), just keep going. It's great to pick up tips, but more than anything — and I know you believe this...mequantity > quality. Quality will come later. All you need now is courage to speak to the quantity and later the quality will come.