Writing is hard. Even if you're the most talented writer in the universe, crafting words into coherent sentences that are able to evoke and shape peoples thoughts and opinions, words that entertain, elate, or thrill? Its hard to do, and even harder to do on demand. No one will tell you this more than a copywriter, especially one who writes for the SEO industry. Finding the time, energy, focus, and ability to craft something you can actually be proud of, and which can be placed on a high power blog? Its not easy.
I recently saw The Rum Diary, a film based on a Hunter S Thompson novel, and it struck me that most of the best writers are not entirely stable human beings. Not all writers are alcoholics or depressed but it wouldn't be hard to understand if they were. Great writing is hard and it can make you crazy at times.
Writing is rather like being suspended over a cliff with your body held up only by a half-frayed rope, your eyes endlessly staring down at an ice cold choppy sea and back breaking rocks every single second of your life. Its precarious. Its terrifying. It demands every bit of your being. At least, it should.
As were nearing the end of 2011, many of us are beginning to reflect on the last year and assess what can be done to better ourselves in the New Year. As a writer, maybe you're wondering what you could do to improve your writing this year.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to bring your writing into 2012:
1. Think bigger (& wider): Many in the SEO world are still thinking too small. There should no longer be mere copy teams. There should be a content team with content stretching across all mediums and genres. Content should work across different platforms. We should be writing more than blogs. We should be writing news articles and press releases. We should be writing and making videos, both non fiction and fiction. In fact, writing to serve the mighty link should soon be a thing of the past. It starts with great writing, not just optimized content. Content marketing should be more like good PR. It should be bold, confident, eye catching and something you can be proud of. Think big and get creative. Do not let your teams persuade you to keep standing still and doing the same old thing. Now is the time for innovation!
2. Build your confidence: One of the greatest hindrances to good writing is lack of confidence. Having the confidence to write without limits frees you to make creative choices that are more daring. In the world of SEO and content marketing well thought out, daring content can create link bait which is the kind of writing you aim for. But this doesn't come with low self esteem and safe writing. It comes from putting yourself out there and taking a risk. Note: be careful when writing for clients though. Ensure your daring content isn't going to offend or estrange your clients or their customers. Other than that, get that confidence built up and go for it!
3. Discover your voice: Finding your voice is not easy and there's no real formula but its very important. For some it can take years while others find it right out of the gate. A good technique is to try free writing. Spend at least a minute each morning writing just for the pleasure of it. Don't plan it and don't stop for the whole minute; just write your thoughts as they come. This is one of the best ways to get your creative juices flowing and prevent or combat writers block. It can also help you find your voice. When you're not thinking about creating something amazing but just writing words, your voice is easier to find. Let this be the year you start to discover your own unique voice.
4. Be honest: Honesty in writing, even in writing for fiction is one of our most valuable assets. Lying is poor marketing and poor writing. What do I mean? Be authentic about who you are, write from your own perspective or interview someone and write from theirs. If you're writing fiction honesty comes down to writing truthful characters rather than character types. In marketing and article writing for SEO, honesty comes down to accuracy. Don't steal articles and don't pretend to be something your not. Write from a standpoint of integrity even if you are writing about some place you've never been, write the piece with as much honesty and transparency as possible. Don't say youve been there if you haven't (readers can tell).If you've been lying or stretching the truth when you write, stop it. Try a new approach. Let 2012 be the year where honesty and integrity bring your writing to a new level.
5. Read (for pleasure): Imagine your mind is a container full of words and letters like those plastic colorful alphabet magnets that can go on the fridge. After a while of dumping words out on page after page, your reservoirs can get low or even down to empty. Reading, especially for pleasure, replenishes the lost words and refills your mind inventory. It can even inspire and improve creativity. Reading for pleasure is not like zoning out in front of the TV after a long day of work. Reading actually helps your mind to unwind and untangle from the day. Its also a great way to stop thinking about work and allow yourself to shut down for the night. If you can read on the train or bus while commuting, do it (it makes me queasy). Otherwise, turn off the TV and read some good fiction for at least 10 minutes a day before bed. Trust me; it'll help your writing, and your sanity.