Plants need soil, water and light. And so do writers. Your “soil” is the foundation of basic good writing skills, which you probably learned years ago. Your “water” is the stuff that keeps pouring into your brain through all of your senses. It provides the information you can use as you write. And your “light?” Well, that is the bright idea that comes to you in an “aha” moment. It is that wonderful thing that gets your “juices” flowing and lets you write great copy – content, articles, and blog posts. Growing as a writer means that your soil, water, and light continue to change and get better.

The Soil

You would not be a writer if you didn’t like to write. Somewhere along the line, a teacher or an author inspired you, and you were motivated to develop good writing skills. As you went through school, you continued to write essays and papers, trying to sound scholarly and “academic.” You fine-tuned the art of long, complex sentences with what I call $100-dollar words – all to impress the people who were grading those pieces of writing.

Growing as a writer now means simplifying. You are no longer in an academic environment. So change out that “soil.” Get rid of the long sentences; get rid of all the words that are only found in textbooks. Get back to basics in article writing, just like reporters do; write content and blog posts with an 8th grader in mind.
Read articles, content, and blog posts, and find that ones that really “hook” you in. What do they all have in common? Chances are, you will find the following:

  1. They all start with a story or with some really startling fact. Why? Because these things resonate with readers, and they will want to read on.
  2. They will be casual and informal. The style is conversational whether the piece is in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person.
  3. They will be entertaining, giving good information, or solving a problem for the reader.
  4. They will have a “punchy” title and ending.
    Mimic those writers that you like. It’s really that simple!

The Water

No writer grows without becoming a sponge. Everything you read; everything you view; everything you hear; and everything you observe sends new information to your brain. You have to continually absorb new information and experiences, if you hope to be able to write over the long-haul. One of the best ways to continue to absorb is to take on writing tasks on topics about which you know very little. You will be forced to research, to learn new things. And in doing this repeatedly, you will become an expert in a new topic field.

Here’s a quick example:
I have a friend whose background was in education – a teacher and college professor for years. In her retirement, she decided to do freelance writing. She started small – just with articles and posts that related to education. Then, someone asked her to write a blog post on real estate, specifically the new types of home mortgages now being offered. She knew nothing about that! She took the gig, however, and got online and did 24 hours’ worth of research. She wrote the post, and it was a “winner.” That same client began to use her exclusively for his blog, and as she continued to research, she became an expert on “all things real estate.” Now, she writes about real estate like a veteran. And she has also branched out to “all things digital,” writing posts on website design, content marketing, and so forth.

You never know when information you have stored in that grey matter of yours will come in handy for something you need to write. Become a lifelong learner if you really want to be a good writer.

The Light

So, how do you get the ideas for writing topics? Struggling to find them is a real “bummer” and slows down the whole process. Sometimes they come quickly; sometimes you sit staring at a blank screen, and nothing will come. When these times happen, and they will, you have to do something different.
The first thing you do is get away from that screen. And here are some tips for what else to do.

  1. You have a broad topic area. Start talking to yourself about it. What do you know? What would you still like to know? What might a reader like to know? Just talk – out loud.
  2. Put an ear bud in, attached to a recording device, and take a walk. Keep talking to yourself about the topic. The nice thing about the ear bud is people will think you are actually talking to someone and won’t think you are a bit nuts. Record all of your “talk.”
  3. Get in the car and take a drive; walk through a mall; sit somewhere and “people watch.” Eavesdrop on conversations of others.
  4. The ideas will come, if you stop struggling.
    Soil, water, light – it’s what plants and writers have in common!
Author's Bio: 

Laura Callisen is a writing blogger and content manager. She is eager to share here experiences and techniques with people looking for improving their writings and providing tips for effective personal growth.