practical tips for practicing your writing

Stop. I see you, mid-eye-roll. I know you’re aware that you need to write regularly if you want to become a writer.

You might aim to write something every day, even if you don’t publish it anywhere. There’s no substitute for that type of practice. It’s that valuable.

But what do you write about if you don’t have any thoughts to express?

Some of you may now be talking out loud to your web browser to offer a rebuttal to that question, so I’m going to stop you again.

It was a trick question. If you’re a writer, there is always something to write about because of the way you view your experiences in the world.

Writers are fascinated with their experiences.

Today, I’m going to explore the outlook that helps you become a writer and how strong writing enables sharper content marketing.

Why you should write about everything that happens to you

A bee was trapped in my fireplace … Someone cut in line in front of me at the grocery store … I was stuck in rush-hour traffic …

Those are the types of experiences I used to turn into stories when I first started writing. And my writing style still includes relevant anecdotes that support the main message I want to communicate.

But in the early days of my writing journey, there wasn’t always a main message I wanted to communicate. I wasn’t creating content intentionally yet; I just needed to develop my writing voice and get used to typing words on a keyboard on a regular basis.

Even if you’ve never written anything before, that is the first step to take to become a writer.

As a side effect, you’ll strengthen skills that pair well with content marketing.

You’ll discover your brand of effective content

Content with no personality looks like a dictionary entry written by an anonymous person, but content with too much personality can look unprofessional.

Both extremes will damage your content marketing efforts, but it can be helpful to use those extremes to find the middle ground of effective content.

The more you write, the more you’ll be able to recognize the difference between generic content that could have been written by anyone, directionless content, and focused, engaging, goal-oriented content.

Your writing practice builds self-confidence that helps infuse your content with the right type of winning qualities that differentiate it from your competitors.

You’ll appreciate the details that separate remarkable content from dry content

When you embrace the art of carefully crafting your stories, vagueness becomes your enemy. It doesn’t serve you. You’ll crave vivid and sensory words.

Clear and detailed descriptions stamp your content with your unique brand. In order to sculpt those clear and detailed descriptions, you’ll naturally take on the responsibility of editing your writing.

As you write and rewrite, your editing skills will help you recognize and correct common mistakes you make.

You’ll develop the empathy that produces content that connects

Be kind and gentle with yourself when you make writing mistakes. Compassion for yourself will lead to compassion for others that radiates throughout remarkable content.

I used to cringe whenever I read a piece of my writing that was older than six months. I was embarrassed and saw opportunities to make it better — or wished that I didn’t write about the topic because it no longer interested me.

Now I’m not as hard on myself and appreciate the work I produced at that time.

Also, when you write about your experiences — especially experiences that involve other people — you have an opportunity to view situations from a perspective outside of your own mind. Take a moment to see the other person’s point of view.

Responding with empathy benefits content marketers who aim to relate and connect with their audiences.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t write about an experience

Sometimes you’re tired and don’t feel like writing. Sometimes you want to do something else. But you may feel pressure to write anyway.

I support regular habits that promote productivity, but I like to view those habits with flexibility. It’s okay if you don’t do something you intended to do on a certain day or at a certain time.

That self-confidence I talked about above will also help you overcome stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed because you’ll be confident that you can handle the work you need to do. You’ll feel capable, and you’ll know your writing task will get done well at the right time, even if it’s not when you originally planned to do your work.

Surrender to the evolution

The topics that interest you when you first start writing will change.

Sometimes your evolution will be gradual, and other times you’ll change directions abruptly because you’ll want to experiment with something new.

As you evolve as a person and a writer, you’ll become more selective about your content topics, but your refined palate and discerning taste will only ripen once you commit to writing.

Viewing experiences as potential stories is one way you can get started.

Work with life

Your writing is art; it’s supposed to be indulgent. I give you permission to dissect your existence.

When you feel good about yourself and the choices you make in your life, your confidence will spill over into your content, which puts you in a better position to attract the right audience for your products or services.

Do your experiences influence your writing and content marketing materials? How do you determine what is worth writing about?

Share in the comments below.

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55 Comments

  1. Keith Paul says

    Great article. I agree with you that the more you write, the more refined your skills become. I see this most when I go back to “refresh” older posts, that’s when I get a chance to make them better. Writing is one of those things that does improve with time.

  2. Stefanie Flaxman says

    Time certainly does help! You’re able to see things you didn’t notice before.

  3. Stefanie,
    Having recently embraced the role of writer, this is such an encouraging article! I’m always so embarrassed about things I wrote in the past (song lyrics, blogs, journal entries). It will be so helpful to write about little life experiences… love the idea of a bee trapped in a fireplace!!!
    I recently began a tip-a-day project to help parents document their family life with photography. It makes me write something every single day. I practice headlines, hooks, anecdotes, and transforming boring information into irresistible little tips.
    I’m bookmarking this article to read on the discouraging days ahead ????
    Thanks so much for writing, Stefanie!
    Mat

  4. Stefanie Flaxman says

    That sounds like a fun project, Mat! And great writing practice. Little by little that work will add up to something you can look back at and be proud of!

  5. I enjoyed this post. Our perspective is what distinguishes us from everyone else, so be yourself without apology. Dare to be heard. Dare to express you with all your shortcomings. March into your writing with the decisiveness of a military campaign rather than with the timidity of a first date.
    My training in the sciences was a help and a handicap. I learned to perceive the world objectively, however, more often than not the objective eye transforms into the voice of the critic, sequestering creativity and killing imagination. I wrestle with the critic too often. I need to relax and just express myself.

  6. Stefanie Flaxman says

    Nice vivid descriptions, James! We all struggle with relaxing and writing first, then editing later. There’s a time for each process. I like to think of writing and editing as siblings, but not twins.

  7. Keith Pelchat says

    Thank you Stefanie. Great article!
    As a computer geek, I usually have a hard time getting out of my own way. And quite often, my writing ends up feeling like the dictionary entry written by the anonymous person!
    This article provides an awesome viewpoint that I hope to have forever etched upon my mind’s eye! See what you just did there!
    Thanks again.
    Keith

  8. Stefanie Flaxman says

    Looks like you’re on the right track, Keith!

  9. Daniel Nyairo says

    Hi Stefanie,
    I had to share this on my Facebook page before coming back here to write this comment lol!.
    The other day I watched an interaction between my 8 year old daughter and my wife, and an idea hit me to use it as an anecdote for my next article.
    I like especially you mentioning that one should strike a balance between being too casual and too formal.
    Thanks!

  10. Stefanie Flaxman says

    When I read your comment, Daniel, it made me realize I would have liked to use the word “curious” in the article.
    Staying curious about the world around you helps you notice things like the interaction between your daughter and your wife.
    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Michelle says

    I loved this article. I’ve recently left my corporate management position (where I was lucky enough to write content sometimes) to pursue writing full-time. I’m working as a copywriter and see on a daily basis how important it is to show not tell the story. Fantastic article!

  12. Stefanie Flaxman says

    High-five on your new writing career, Michelle!

  13. Thank you so much for this inspirational article. I want to write for a living so badly but don’t believe I can succeed. I hope your article will keep pushing me in the right direction to write and believe in myself.

  14. Ahmad Imran says

    Rose, I learnt from my online mentor (Jim Rohn) that productivity and success comes when you are creative and not stressed.
    You need to enjoy the journey and have a “firm faith” that you can do it. The anxiety will turn into confidence and no matter how long it takes, you will get there. Good luck and Best Wishes.

  15. Samantha R. Forbes says

    “Writers are fascinated with their experiences.”
    Wow! I never thought of myself that way before, but that little statement rings so true with me.
    Thanks for the helpful inspiration!

  16. Thank you for this article Stephanie. I have been beating myself up lately for doing unfocused writing…so much…that I was limiting all my writing. Now I am excited to get back at the keyboard again, thanks to you

  17. Naven Pillai says

    Thanks for such an awesome content, Stefanie.
    Some people have the fear to try something new as they are more concerned about what other people will think about them if they make any mistake. Dare, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s a learning process.
    It’s not only about writing but also for other skills you wish to learn and master.
    Expect the mistakes you make as part of the process of growth and development.
    Thanks again for this blog post, Stefanie.

  18. What a great reminder this is! I’ve just started up again writing in a journal, but this is a great way to work on the habit of writing. I have some life episodes in mind already!

  19. Patricia Brown says

    Great article! This really helps me to understand some of my angst behind transitioning to a different writing phase; or should I say “re-writing” phase. Writing has always been my passion but I have not had time to be as intentional and focused with it. Now that I have accepted this role in the current season of my life, these tips will certainly be a guide. I am excited about what will unfold and look forward to growing my skills.

  20. Just talking to Jonathan Perez over at Sure Fire Web Services about writing every day. He is following the Ben Settle idea of writing an email to his list each day. I’ve been pondering it myself, but writing each day is a habit I need to develop better. It is hard for me to write to develop a habit rather than writing a blog post. Good thoughts here for sure!

  21. This is a fantastic article, especially for people like myself that are always afraid to make a point on past experiences that might help others in their daily living. I want to write bad, but I feel like my ideas are of no interest to others. This article has inspired me to write all those anecdotes and daily experiences I had as a teacher. It might give some insight to other teachers that are facing the same situation. Thanks, Stephanie!

  22. Tom Bentley says

    Stefanie, thank you. Yours is a topic I’ve written about many times: stories are everywhere! Once you tilt your eyes (and mind) to the right—and sometimes odd—angle, you see that there are compelling considerations to what seem day-to-day trivialities. And as you suggest, when you refine the way you express those stories through regular practice, you’ll get measurably better in being able to tell the tales so people (and customers) lean in and listen.

  23. whenever I get stuck in writing | jump to design quotes, because i have to keep busy myself in a related writing task to make strong patterns in mind of writing.

  24. Hi Stephanie,
    What a great article. I especially liked the bit about having empathy with yourself.
    It is so easy to be your own worst enemy and discourage yourself from continuing to do almost anything by being too critical.
    It took me at least 6 months of writing before I had any confidence that I was improving, and I probably still don’t have enough self-belief because I have a tendency to focus on mistakes.
    I’m sharing this on Facebook so that it might have the chance to inspire my other aspiring writing friends to persevere
    Thanks for the awesome article!
    Jamie

  25. Hi Stefanie,
    Thank you for the great article. You have a wonderful flow to your writing. I have been working hard to create a flow with my writing and I have to say you are spot on about writing regularly. I am not where I want to be but see consistent improvements.
    I look forward to reading more of your work. Have a great day!

  26. Hi Stefanie, thanks for your article. I really love it. It resonates with me in a few ways. And it’s encouraging seeing that I’m doing most of your tips already.
    “Your writing practice builds self-confidence that helps infuse your content with the right type of winning qualities that differentiate it from your competitors.”
    I wrote something on Twitter and one of my “followers” said something. She didn’t say much, but what she said gave me a tremendous boost in self-confidence.
    She said that she could “feel” the genuineness in my words. As a writer, I felt great when she said that.
    “Do your experiences influence your writing and content marketing materials? How do you determine what is worth writing about?”
    My writing is my experience. The relevance and the impact, I determine, it may have on the content being written, help determine what’s worthy to write about.
    Thanks again for your lovely article.

  27. Kimberly says

    I like what you said about using an anecdote from life to strengthen the point of something you write. I’ve been working with this approach recently and it’s surprisingly powerful. I enjoyed this article, thank you!

  28. Waqar Ahmed Shar says

    I really appreciate the way you have written this article for other writers.
    I want to become a professional writer like all of you, but my problem is that I spend too much time reading books that I haven’t any left to write my own thoughts.
    I don’t know how to overcome this reading habit and actually create my own art, my own work.

  29. Tejas Patel says

    Loved your post.
    just one thing i wanted to ask is that can we consider affinity Content as too much personality. As i have read one post on copyblogger about it.
    As you have mentioned it can be bad to have too much personality .
    can you tell me more about it .

  30. Stefanie Flaxman says

    One simple way to think of “too much personality” is information that distracts rather than enhances the main point you want to communicate.

  31. Virender says

    Hi Stefanie,
    This is an amazing article. I am not that much of a writer, but I am developing writing skills. Often there is a time when I want to write but lack the discipline. Your article is a great help.
    Next time I will be writing an improved comment. I am sure about this.
    Thanks a lot

  32. Ahmad Imran says

    Stefanie
    As a 2-year old writer linked to the field of blogging, I can relate to most of the points that you wrote about. It is ironic that we as writers are quick to criticise ourselves. When I look at my blog posts which I wrote an year ago or longer, I start feeling bad. I straight away pick up gaps and feel that I need to revisit the article to update it.
    But your words are encouraging, writing is a continuous journey, it is a ladder of improvement, step by step. Brilliant article, going in my Evernote and sharing with my Twitter, Google Plus and email list as well. Thanks.

  33. Waqar Ahmed Shar says

    Hello Imran.
    This happens with me too. When I read my old article, I feel like how immature I was..

  34. Loren Shapiro says

    “Your writing is art; it’s supposed to be indulgent. I give you permission to dissect your existence.”
    This is so beautiful and profound – and a great reminder to explore the written word. I think indulging in this indulgence will help determine what is worth writing about.

  35. Amar kumar says

    Hey Stefanie,
    There’s a big audience out there for almost every topic under the sun. But there’s an equal amount of companies and brands competing for them. We need the right formula to stand out, stay on top, and keep growing your base.
    A brand is one of the most valuable assets of a business, and it needs to be carefully crafted to ensure it properly and authentically represents the business. Once we’ve surrendered and life takes you the way life wants to take you, your will needs to be active in execution, and Singer led a very active life. Eventually, thanks for this interesting post and great support.
    With best wishes,
    Amar kumar

  36. Such a well-written piece. I feel inspired to begin writing again! but… still a bit hesitant. I can stare at a blank page for ages. Over the years, I have been editing other people’s work and that has become such a habit. But the negative impact it has had on my original writing is huge. It is as if I am suffering from a ‘writer’s block’ consistently for the last (I don’t remember) how many years! It has become more of a mental block now. Any advice on how to break out of this block please?

  37. Stefanie Flaxman says

    Sandy, perhaps start with a daily writing goal that is quite small — something like four sentences a day, each week day, without editing. That low-pressure goal might help you overcome your mental block and after some time you may find yourself wanting to write more and more.

  38. Trish O'Connor says

    Great suggestion, Stefanie! This is exactly what I recommend to my editorial clients, after finding it incredibly helpful in my own growth as a writer.
    I like to do five-minute timed “sketches” with no preparation and no revision, sparked by a short prompt, such as a title or opening sentence. You have five minutes, right?
    I’ve taken to offering collections of “sketch starters” in my Etsy shop, for people who prefer to have prompts prepared for them, rather than making their own. If you’re interested, you can find me under the name of my business, Epiclesis Consulting.

  39. Anh Nguyen says

    Stefanie,
    Thank you for this inspirational post!
    Recently, I’ve experimented with stream-of-consciousness and fiction writing on the side. Since I take a lot of time to finish my blog posts, I wanted a way to write more.
    The method that works best for me is to use 750words.com (awesome interface!) and write without punctuation, capital letters, nothing. It kind of feels like diving into an endless ocean of words.
    There’s a question that’s been bothering me though: do you think writing fiction (not just about what happens to you) helps with non-fiction writing?
    Cheers,
    Anh

  40. Stefanie Flaxman says

    Interesting question, Anh! I don’t write fiction myself, but I imagine that fiction writing does also strengthen nonfiction writing. I find that all types of creative activities complement each other.

  41. manju rai says

    Great post! It inspire me a lot. i know it’s very important for a writer to remain updated and surrender himself/herself to the evolution else he/she will not be able to match the requirements and interest of the new readers.

  42. Tajudeen says

    Hi Stefaine
    Nice piece of information! I identify with not being able to produce content on daily basis because I want to produce a perfect blog post. Could you tell step by step of how to research for blog post, or better still for a topic you have no idea about and then producing a great article in less than 3 hours?
    Thanks

  43. Stefanie Flaxman says

    You can use the search bar on the right side of the site to find the topics you’re looking for, Tajudeen. If you’re not already signed up, a free My Copyblogger membership will give you access to our content library that should help you out as well.

  44. Priyatam Mishra says

    Thanks for the inspiring post! Keep your content always simple yet compelling and you will never be outdated.

  45. Shamsudeen Adeshokan says

    Hi Stefanie,
    Truly writing is an art, and if one is serious and determine to get better at it each passing day, then you have to committ to regular reading and writing some never to be publish content.
    I used both ways to get to where I am today.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  46. Harrison Greene says

    Terrific article. I’d like to add that all artists have to deal with “resistance”, as Steven Pressman writes in “The War of Art”. Rejection for a writer is wonderful because it indicates the the writer is writing. Don’t make the mistake of rejecting yourself by not writing.

  47. Don Kennedy says

    Before I started writing seriously I ran across a used book and your post made me grab it off the shelf, re-read it, and start the daily routine. Your post pertaining to the daily habit of writing is timeless although, in Dorothea Brande’s classic, Becoming a Writer (1934), the crusty teacher was a little more abrupt: If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Perhaps she was revisiting us!

  48. Dave Vigna says

    A lovely article, Stefanie. Thank you.

  49. Bharat Ratna says

    This is so encouraging – thank you! It’s easy to get stuck in one “path” to a writing career, and for me that is novel-writing. I definitely need help thinking outside of that rather restricting box.

  50. Rakesh Poswal says

    Undoubtedly, all articles and blogs are great from Copyblogger. And this one is no exception. I have natural inclination towards writing and words in English language. I always wanted to write something or the other however I was never able to muster courage to write something great. Recently, I started writing for a local content writing company and discovered how prolific and resourceful I could be with my writing. Now, I always have something to write about. Politics, nature, movies, people; everything is a source for my writing. Though I have written for US and UK clients, I still find it a challenge to write like a native English writer. But I like challenges and I take them head-on. Probably, this is why I subscribed to Copyblogger.

  51. Lori Tian Sailiata says

    Write. Read. Read. Read. Write. Read. Read. Read. Edit. Rinse. Repeat. And yes, notice the surroundings every so often. And I’ve noticed that during my health hiatus the comments have returned. Sound the trumpets! And like Rip Van Winkle, I’m noticing much is the same, but the faces are different. Not the Copyblogger crew, but the commenters. Looking forward to hearing their perspective. Always, always looking forward to the next post from the Copyblogger team.

  52. You hit the bullseye on all points, described by experience perfectly. I only have one issue. When I saw the title, my first thought was, “It’s another one of those annoying writing tips/advice emails.” (I get a lot.).
    But, noticing it was from copyblogger I opened it,naturally.
    Writing a compelling subject line about copywriting, for copywriters—good luck.

  53. Colleen Carroll says

    I write for parents of struggling and disengaged readers ages 5-14. That is all I write about since it is my area of expertise and I have developed a business around it. After 20 years in the field of education I finally honed by topic because it takes up a lot of time and energy but I am glad to have a focus because for years I loved to write but was all over the place. I could write about health, fitness, education, food, relationships, etc. just out of passion. Now I write out of passion to change the world and a singular topic that I can zero in on and actually accomplish something!

  54. Thanks for the inspiring post! This is so encouraging.

  55. Idan Rubin says

    Embrace those ugly first drafts, there is no other way.

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