Many a blogger has aspired to become an impressive writer. Some people think writing is a skill that can be attained by a set of rules; the technique-based tips help but too much focus on technique or steps sometimes fail to capture the artistic facet of weaving thoughts into words. On the other hand, some people go to the other extreme and say that writing is only a talent of the gifted few.
Yes, there are writing geniuses, but that’s no excuse not to try to be a decent writer at the very least. There is nothing more offensive to your intelligent reader than having time wasted because of reading poorly written content.
Somewhere in the middle of extremes lies the truth of writing– it’s both a technique and an art that exists at the very intersection of your passion, personality, and strategy.
There is both magic and sheer work involved.
How do you write well enough to call it passable or good for reading standards?
A lot has been previously written about techniques. I can write about finding one’s writing voice or getting compelling content that retains readers, but that is not handling the problem of poor writing by the roots.
This post is not about techniques. But I would like to share something that has worked for me for the last 10 years of my work as a freelance writer.
Here’s the one tried and tested tip that all professional writers can swear by:
A wide reader has a higher propensity of becoming a good or competent writer by sheer osmosis.
Osmosis is when you do not try to just play by the rules strictly. Osmosis is when you practically immerse yourself in a habit of reading good content on a daily basis. With a good reading habit, good writing eventually becomes a natural by-product of your constant exposure.
It’s inevitable that if you want to contribute something good for your readers, you need to first NOURISH yourself mentally with the work of writing masters. No, you do not need to understand the entirety of literature to be good or have a degree in comparative literature, but you need to be well-read. And if you are writing online, it pays to stay fresh. Read about various topics, not just topics in your niche of choice. You might be surprised that in writing a news article, you can find yourself using some lively words from a sports feature or a food review, or even a 19th century novel.
In my own efforts to improve my skill, I only do two things: I write daily without fail on any avenue available to me (blog or on paper) and I sharpen myself mentally by reading the works of fabulous writers all over the world. I have such high reverence for published authors. I try to read at least one book per day about various topics. It is helpful to read about topics that are of natural interest to you, otherwise you will find the task boring or a giant chore. But eventually, you will not limit yourself to one industry but read about many topics to give a unique perspective to how you see the world and how you depict it in your writing.
But you do not just read without filters, because bad writing is very much contagious. Read the good writers/bloggers you want to emulate or be like. Study their writing style. And in studying other people’s styles, you soon assimilate and find your own writing voice eventually.
A caveat: There are many wide readers who are not confident about their writing skill because they feel so small compared to the masters they have read. It can dampen your self-confidence to read the pros and find that your technique cannot be as good as theirs. But at the very least, you can discriminate good writing from bad and it will really help you a lot over time although it’s not the shortcut that others might hope for.
Without knowing it and whether they believe it or not, these disheartened bookworms might be surprised that when they do write, it’s in fact of a different calibre compared to those who are just focused on improving their techniques.
Does it sound like a lot of work? It is, I readily admit that reading is not naturally enjoyable for some people. But it’s a necessity for any aspiring writer. Over time, it does not seem as tiring or as bad as the first time.
So take a chance. Open your mind. Grab a good book, read it for as long as it takes, then get another good book after for yourself to enjoy. Do it until such time that the good book you find is your own.
You can revisit the writing tips or techniques anytime, but in the end, you can only learn how to provide a good reading experience if you have experienced it yourself first. Know that when you provide good content, it’s not just words on paper or screen but it’s, in fact, an open door to provide a different kind of mental experience for your reader.
[About the author:
Engr. Helen Mary S. Labao is the blogger behind Helena, a general information personal blog that touches on various topics. She is a geodetic engineer and freelance writer by profession. She had the daily hobby of writing on her diary since age 7, won some contests in high school that boosted her confidence, and finally began writing professionally in 2004.
Philippine Daily Inquirer has published her piece recently in Opinion section Youngblood. You can read it here.]