Some of you may have read the post from a couple of weeks ago on the business aspects of freelance writing, ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF WRITING. If you have not, and you are interested in writing in general, you may want to catch up on that post as well. Today the topic at hand is a series of “advice nuggets” for those who want to write but may be stuck on how to move forward.

The first tip is simply to write. Just like with any other skill, the more you practice, the better you will become. Experiment with different writing methods; such as typing on a computer or tablet, using a pen or pencil on paper, or dictating your thoughts into a recording device with a speech-to-text program. Before long you will find the method that works best for you. No one else can evaluate that process for you, it must be through personal experience. My preference is pen on paper but I know other writers who much prefer to type their thoughts directly on a computer.

Just a few books and magazines.

Next, read as much as you can from a wide variety of sources. Try to expand the available pool of topics and sources beyond what you might usually gravitate toward reading. You may be surprised at what you can learn. You can find published writing that is outstanding and you can find published writing that is abysmal. Reading widely can help you determine where your own style fits on that continuum. And just to warn you, everyone is awful when they first start writing. The good news is that most people can become markedly better very quickly. And reading is a key factor in improvement.

Make writing a habit. Write as much as you can in any place possible. Yes, we’ve all heard about the writer who sits in the corner of the local coffee shop or the one who locks themselves away in an isolated room. Every writer has their own favorite place to write. But get in the habit of writing whenever you can. Journal on vacations or road trips, jot notes on a pad during your commute to work (if you take public transport), set aside a particular time of day to write, whatever works for you to make writing a habit.

Stay organized. I know, I know, organization is difficult. But nothing derails a potential writing session by not being able to find your favorite pen, the right notebook, the proper section of your computer. We can let these little issues disrupt our minds, we lose our thoughts, and we then start to think that writing is too difficult so that gives us a reason to quit. For example, I can’t see to write without my cheater glasses. Therefore, I have a pair in every room of the house, sometimes multiple pairs in a room. Having the items that you need to write at hand simplifies the process.

Finally, at least for this post, is the admonition to study. Find writers that you enjoy and admire, for whatever reason, in genres that you prefer. Study their writing to figure out what draws you to them. The idea is not to copy those writers but to learn about sentence & paragraph construction, the pleasant turn of a phrase, or the creative use of punctuation. By reading these writers and identifying their strengths we can develop our own skills. As a personal example, I study Benjamin Franklin for his efficient use of language. Another favorite is Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) because of his richly descriptive prose (and sometimes acerbic humor). Finding authors we admire and studying them is a great way to improve our own writing.

Write and read habitually, stay organized and study. Some words of advice for the aspiring writer.