Archive for the ‘writing tips’ Category

muriel spark: ghost stories

Image by cdrummbks via Flickr

The title of this post should be: The benefits of a cat allowing you to live with him/her.

Muriel Spark writes:

If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp … gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.

So there you have it. The tranquility of a cat will help inspire you and improve your productivity. Sounds good! Honestly, though, my two cats are better at putting me to sleep. Especially when I sit down on the couch, notepad in hand, and they decide to climb on my lap. I start petting them and, the next thing I know, I’ve been asleep for an hour!
Perhaps, though, you’ll have success with this method. It’s definitely something worth trying out.

I can always use more tips about how to manage my time! Most of them I already know, but I need reminding.

These tips come by way of Michael Haynes blog.

1. Have a goal. This may not seem like a time management tip at first, but it’s an absolutely essential input to any time management planning you are doing for writing. Without having a goal, you don’t know how much time you need to meet your goal. Another important input here is some idea of how quickly you compose. Be honest with yourself here. If you say “Oh, I can knock out 2000 words an hour” and that’s wishful thinking, then your planning will be off. I would suggest starting with a goal that isn’t a huge stretch for you. You can always choose to exceed your goal and/or increase your goal later on. If you set an overly-ambitious goal and don’t meet it, you can end up feeling frustrated.

2. Have a way of tracking progress towards your goal. If you’re doing a “word count per day” metric like I do, then the Seinfeld Chain which I previously discussed could be perfect for you. This gives you a way to track your progress which is easy and constantly visible. If you’re more interested in tracking your overall progress towards a large goal (like completing a novel) then you can use a wordcount tracker. There’s a very basic one which you can update by just changing one or two values (for words and target) in a link. The link/image reference

http://wordmeter.heroku.com/picometer/words=15000&target=55000

3. Make writing time a part of your schedule. This can be especially helpful if you’ve got a busy schedule of activities. If there are already a lot of things going on in your day/week, making a point to explicitly carve out some of your time for writing should improve matters. Once you’ve done that, make sure to commit to following through with using that time for writing. Naturally, every once and a while a true emergency will come up and you’ll have to skip a planned writing session. But if you find yourself doing that on a regular basis then you’re probably not getting value out of scheduling your writing time.

To read the rest of this excellent article, click here: Eight time management tips for writers

Looking back at my blogs and tweets over the last couple of days, I realize I’ve been focused on the subject of good writing. Here are a few tips I’ve come across:

Blogging Tips from Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger:

1. Make your opinion known
2. Link like crazy
3. Write less
4. 250 Words is enough
5. Make Headlines snappy
6. Write with passion
7. Include Bullet point lists
8. Edit your post
9. Make your posts easy to scan
10. Be consistent with your style
11. Litter the post with keywords

1. Make your opinion known
People like blogs, they like blogs because they are written by people and not corporations. People want to know what people think, crazy as it sounds they want to know what you think. Tell them exactly what you think using the least amount of words possible.

2. Link like crazy.
Support your post with links to other web pages that are contextual to your post.

3. Write Less
Give the maximum amount of information with the least amount of words. Time is finite and people are infinitely busy. Blast your knowledge into the reader at the speed of sound.

4. 250 is enough
A long post is easier to forget and harder to get into. A short post is the opposite.

5. Make Headlines snappy
Contain your whole argument in your headline. Check out National newspapers to see how they do it.

6. Include bullet point lists
We all love lists, it structures the info in an easily digestible format.

7. Make your posts easy to scan
Every few paragraphs insert a sub heading. Make sentences and headlines short and to the point.

8. Be consistent with your style
People like to know what to expect, once you have settled on a style for your audience stick to it.

9. Litter the post with Keywords.
Think about what keywords people would use to search for your post and include them in the body text and headers. make sure the keyword placement is natural and does not seem out of place.

10. Edit your post
Good writing is in the editing. Before you hit the submit button, re-read your post and cut out the stuff that you don’t need.

Read the rest of the article here: Ten Tips for writing a blog post

General Writing Tips

1. Have something to say and say it.
2. Use the active voice.
3. Avoid overusing adverbs and adjectives. Eliminate unnecessary qualifiers such as very, a little, mostly, etc. If removing a word from a sentence doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence, then lose the word.
4. Edit ruthlessly. In On Writing Stephen King says that, as a rule of thumb, your second draft should be 10% shorter than the first. (3) and (4) are really the same point, only said different ways.
5. The most important tip of all: Have fun! Don’t get so hung up on the rules of good writing that you can’t type a darn thing. That’s happened to me a few times!

Read more here: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing

Cheers!