“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” – William Faulkner
You are a writer yet you might not know it.
How can I know this? Easy… you are a communicator. You communicate with other people on a daily basis. And what you may not realize about writing is that’s all it is: communication.
The best writing is conversational. It uses simple words and short sentences and paragraphs. It does not try to sound “literary” or “smart.” It is just simple conversation meant to communicate ideas to the reader.
Want to instantly become a better writer? Do this: Record yourself speaking then transcribe it to paper. I promise you, it will be good writing. Really, that’s it. You should try this. It’s extremely powerful.
People that struggle with writing do so because they get stuck in their head with things like what word to use or how a sentence sounds. Good writers know not to do this and so they write their first draft completely free of any of that. They just write. Then, on then 2nd and 3rd drafts, they will edit and check for clarity and grammar. (BTW, this is another recommendation for improving your writing—write a first draft, then edit later.)
The next time you are trying to “write” something, try recording yourself talk, or, talk out loud and type what you say.
“It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.” – Ernest Hemingway
Why should you care about writing?
Well, that’s a valid question. I believe that writing can be a transformational process that all humans should indulge in at least sometimes. There has been plenty of research about the power of keeping a journal and writing as a means of dealing with anxiety, depression and other mentally troublesome issues.
But writing is also a way to learn about yourself. I’ve learned more about myself from writing than anything in my life. I can’t easily describe how or why this is. Perhaps Hemingway summed it up best when he said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Writing is therapeutic and stimulating. It helps you understand yourself and the things that have happened to you. It jolts your subconscious into new ideas and better awareness of yourself and the world around you. It helps you think about, and plan for, the future.
Start a writing practice. This can be a journal, a blog, whatever. Just start writing. My daily writing practice starts with searching for quotes that strike me in some way. When I come across the right one, I get a burst of inspiration and I copy/paste that quote to the top of a blank page and then I let it rip. Whatever comes, comes.
Colin Stuckert Founder/CEO, Wild Foods