My Top 5 Tips for Writing

These are just a few things that I think about a lot when writing. For me, writing is sort of the whole story. I write as as student and as a teacher, and then I also write fiction as an “art” and general recipe for unhappiness. I kid, mostly. Anyway, here are some things that work for me.

1. Set a timer.
This has become a kind of OCD tick for me. I often find it very difficult to motivate myself to start writing. I say to myself, “damnit, Molly. Sit down and write for 10 minutes,” and I set a timer. Then I alternate between writing and doing other chores/schoolwork/youtube videos, etc. I know, right? You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult for someone who allegedly “loves writing,” but sometimes, it is.
2. Reading is fundamental.
I have to read at least a novel a week for my literature class. When I’m not in school and I have more free time, I try to read even more than that. I read dozens and dozens of short stories a year. It helps me to think about how to create my own stories, and to see what’s been done before. Also it just gets the mind into a creative mindset. When it’s really working, you’ll want to put the book down and go write something yourself.
3. Use writing for self discovery.
I write to know what it is I’m thinking about. If you’re in college, I’m going to assume that means you’ve signed up, at least to some extent, for a life of the mind. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” right? Turning your thoughts inside out onto the page is one of the purest forms of intellectual expression. Do it!
4. Read your work out loud.
My roommates probably think there’s something wrong with me because I do this constantly – and if it’s fiction it’s worse. I emote. Reading stuff out loud is the best way to find sentence fragments, clunky word repetition, awkward or confusing passages, and on and on. You will find so many errors this way.
5. Blog.
I’ve had a blog since high school. I don’t believe I would have been a competent enough writer to make it here as a graduate student teaching you fine minds if it hadn’t been for all those thousands and thousands of words I wrote in my formative years. It’s a good daily practice, and it satisfies tip #3 re: self discovery. Writing to an audience (even if that audience is somewhat inflated/imagined in your mind) is the best motivation for writing well. You don’t want to look like a hack, right? The more you write the better you get, and blogging is one of the most convenient and effective ways to get daily practice in.

There you have it. Straight out of the horse’s mouth.

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