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To become a successful writer, then it is important to follow the rules of the writing game. There are many aspects, rules, and tips to writing that you will have discovered throughout this book. You can use these when you start your professional writing life. There will be many more you will learn over the years. Here are some basic rules:  

 

  • Practice, practice, practice – you can hone your writing skills writing regularly by reviewing your writing and welcoming constructive criticism from editors, colleagues and peers. 
  • Keep it simple – try to write the way you naturally speak. This makes the writing flow and it is then easier to read and comprehend. Don’t try to show off your talents by using large and cumbersome words or sentences. The reader should actually forget that they are reading – good writing will achieve this. Bad writing will make the reader stop and think, 'Why did they write it like that?’ or ‘What does the writer mean?’
  • Punctuation and spelling are important. Correct punctuation gets your message across more efficiently. It also helps your writing to flow and gets your ideas across to the reader more effectively. It gives your readers a chance to ‘take a breath’. Correct spelling shows that you are a serious writer and that you have a professional approach to your work. Typos can occur, especially when you are producing large manuscripts. Spell check your work but don’t just rely on the computer spell-checker as it can miss many misspelt words. 
  • Read, read, read. Reading extends your vocabulary, increases your understanding of the world and informs you as changes occur. The more you know and understand of the world and world developments the more informative and broad your writing will become. 
  • Write for your Clients; not for yourself - Many writers make the mistake of writing what they want to write; instead of what people want to pay for. Sometimes you are lucky enough to do both; but the vast majority of successful writers ore those who think about what their client wants, first and foremost.



WRITERS WHO DON'T FOCUS ....WILL FAIL

All writers are different, so finding a way to focus will be a matter of what works best for you as a writer. Some people find the hustle and bustle of a busy home will make the creative juices flow, while others may  find that working late at night or early in the morning works better for them.

Work at a time when you feel most creative and are able to deal more effectively with your distractions.

Focussing on what you are writing about is important
Many teachers will advise students that when writing an essay that they should keep going back to the title and check that what they are writing is actually answering the question.  If it isn’t, then the student has gone off on a tangent and probably will not get as good marks because they have not focused on the question.

Professional writing can be the same. If you are asked to write an article outlining ten tips on how to cut down on fat in your diet, but you then write ten tips on how to lose weight, you are not doing what your publisher asked you to.  Obviously if you are a professional novel writer, then there is more leeway in what you want to write, as it is your talent and writing ability that is selling the books. Your publisher may advise you and make suggestions, but your ideas are still paramount. Conversely, a writer writing on a newspaper will often be given the topics that they are to write on.

If you are asked to write five- hundred words about a new car release, but keep blathering on and on about the new brake system the car has, you are off-target. So bring the article back to what you are supposed to be writing about. Do not lose the other information however; see the opportunity in what you have created - the information on the new brakes system could actually be used to write another article. 

Many writers keep note books, where they write down ideas, keep pieces of information they may use in the future and so on. If you do go off target for any reason, keep the information, put it in a file or in your notebook and maybe use it at another time.  Getting in to the habit of doing this can keep your creative juices flowing.

Develop a Sharp Understanding of Ambiguity
If you know the things that can cause a lack of clarity or misunderstanding - you will know what to watch out for. You can avoid this by re-reading your work when you  have finished. Make sure that you say exactly what you intend to say and that it is clear. It can be hard writing something for a tight deadline, not quite checking it when you have finished and sending it off. Then you realise that some of your work is not quite right. Think about emails. Have you ever sent an email where you mean one thing and the recipient reads it as something else? You mean to be friendly and humorous, they read it as insulting!  Think about that with your writing. It is just as easy to write an article that does not quite say what you mean.

Be Concise
If you can say something in fewer words, without compromising the meaning; always do so.

If you have to choose between longer, more complex words, or simpler words; always choose the simpler words, unless this causes the meaning to be compromised.

You often read work by writers who think that good writing means writing long complex sentences. It is not always the case. Long, complex sentences can actually put people off and the meaning can be lost.   We all have a different style of writing. However you write, try and ensure that the reader can understand it easily.

Know Your Audience
Good writing must be understood quickly and easily by a wide audience with different abilities to comprehend and understand. If you are writing an academic textbook on nuclear fission, your readers will expect a certain level of technical difficulty. If you are writing a book on nuclear fission for the general public to read, you will have to explain it in a simpler way. Look at science writers such as Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox. Both are able to work in a scientific, academic way, but both are able to present their knowledge in a way that is accessible to the lay person in an interesting and informative way. 

Be Logical, Organised and Systematic
Writing needs to be like any other job, if it is to make money: so do your writing in a logical, systematic and organised way.
Ensure that you keep your notes somewhere handy. Always carry a notebook around with you to write down ideas.  Keep your files in order. Ensure that you save any documents you are working on. Keep details of where you carried out research and so on. This may seem like an effort, but it can be frustrating three months later to think, “Where did I find that quote?”, or “Where was my notebook?”
 
 
BEING A SUCCESSFUL FREELANCE WRITER INVOLVES BOTH
 
WRITING WELL, AND BEING ABLE TO SELL WHAT YOU WRITE.

 

 
 
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