Canadian author Ann-Marie MacDonald describes it aptly: “Writing is a hellish task, best snuck up on, whacked on the head, robbed, and left for dead.”
This year, I was asked to lead a workshop on writing for non-writers. Participants were of varying experience levels, so I spent the majority of our time discussing how to make the writing process less hellish.
What follows is my immodest list of writing tips.
1. Do your research.
Writing when you have nothing to say will lead to instant frustration. Do your research. Begin researching your topic by asking good questions—of yourself, of the books, websites, reports you read, and of anyone you interview.
2. Create an outline.
Once you’ve completed your research, write an outline. An outline is the foundation of your article, but it does not have to be complicated, like the outlines they required in high school. It can be as simple as a numbered list.
3. Learn from other writers.
Good writers are voracious readers. Like musicians who listen to music to analyze it, writers read to analyze. Pay attention to the structure, technique, and diction of the material you read. What can you incorporate into your own writing?
4. Keep your audience in mind.