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Becoming an Effective Writer


It’s evident to say writer’s write. But the difference between writing and being a writer is that writer’s produce. They produce finished stories, finished articles, finished poems and so on. They produce and they deliver.

Sometimes it’s hard to get to grips and just focus on a project. So follow these few simple guidelines and see how far you get:

  • Allocate time proportionally…and stick to it – this means spending a fifth of your time doing research, two fifths of your time planning and two fifths of your time writing – not necessarily in those proportions, but what I mean to say is don’t spend more time than you need. It’s easy to get carried away with the fun stuff or with the details, but see the fine line between have to and think you have to
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself – oh my god, look at that list of things you have to do – you still have to find your character’s surname and give their house an address, you need to find a brilliant turning point, you need to do cover art for your book, write a blurb, find a nicer way to describe the weather…calm down. Your first aim is to write a story. Sometimes I write an entire story by calling my character John or Jane Doe. Focus big, then work your way closer and closer to the details – in that order!
  • Goals and aims – this one ties with the previous point. When you set yourself goals and aims, be realistic and don’t give yourself too much pressure. Give yourself one goal a week or one goal a month if that’s what keeps you going. To write chapters 4 and 5 might be your goal for this week. And that will give you space to breath.

Do you have what it takes?


James Scott Bell, author of The Art of War for Writers outlines 10 things you need to be a writer.

  1. Desire – It’s got to be a hunger inside you. You’re going to have to sacrifice time and money and endure frustrations galore. If you don’t have the desire, you won’t last out there on the battlefield.
  2. Discipline – It’s all about production. A quote of words, six days a week.
  3. Commitment to craft – You can’t just dash off a book. Leonard Bishop wrote, ‘Dramatic characters, inventive plotlines, exciting and intense situations are not achieved through accident or ‘good luck.’ The writers of great books zealously learn the craft of their profession so they can release the power and depth of their imagination and experience.’
  4. Patience – It takes time. But you can cut down the time if you have 1, 2 and 3.
  5. Honesty – Be willing to confront your weaknesses as a writer.
  6. Willingness to learn – No chip on your shoulder. Check your ego at the door, or wherever else is convenient.
  7. Business-like attitude – develop business savvy and professionalism
  8. Rhino skin – learn from every rejection and never let any rejection hold you back.
  9. Long-term view – Don’t think “Do I have a book inside me?” Think: “Do I have a writer inside me?” And answer: “Yes!”
  10. Talent – The least important. Everyone has some talent. It’s what you do with it that counts.

Okay now, be honest, how many of these do you possess? I firmly believe that identifying your strengths and weaknesses is one step closer to improving a skill, because you now know what to concentrate on.

Number 2 and 4 are things I’m working on, my biggest weaknesses, but keeping a track of the number of word I’ve done, and keeping realistic targets help.

~ JLT

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