Becoming a freelance writer full-time means reading a lot of writing tips. When I first started out, I read everything, from blogs to books to the tiniest of tidbits on Twitter.
In the end, I figured that all the writing tips in the world won’t help if you can’t find your own unique voice among all that online chatter. Even so, I still learned so much from this period of concentrated study – and I recommend that any online writer should study their craft too.
Not that I’ve stopped learning. I never will. It’s just ever-so-slightly less intense now.
Bearing in mind how useful I found these writing tips, I thought it about time I gave something back by imparting my own original writing tips that weren’t garnered from any other source than my own experience.
For that reason these tips may seem quite odd, but they work for me. If you have any of your own, take a moment to share the knowledge in the comments underneath.
1. Don’t use spellcheck
OK, let me explain: You know when you’re writing away merrily – that idea spilling onto the page all in the right order – and suddenly that pesky red squiggle appears under words like ‘necessary’ or ‘license’? (Oh, just me with those two?) You go back, right click and let spellcheck correct it for you, right? What I’m suggesting is that from now on you manually change the spelling when this happens.
The benefits of doing this over time are huge. Good spelling is an integral part of being a good writer, and besides, what happens if one day you have to (shock of all horrors) write something down on paper with an actual pen?! The point is, if we don’t have to spell properly, that particular memory muscle will only become weaker and weaker.
Get into this habit and you’ll be a much better writer for it. Honest.
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2. Change your work into a PDF file to proofread
Proofreading is half your work as a writer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written an absolute masterpiece – if you proofread lazily and miss simple grammatical or structural errors, your writing will never be taken seriously. I discovered (by accident) that saving my work as a PDF file and proofreading it from there meant I invariably spotted errors my eye simply refused to pick up from a Word document.
There’s probably some highly logical and reasonable explanation behind why this works, but all I know (and care about) is that it does work. OK so it’s a bit of a pain to have to go back to your Word document (or Google Worksheet, or whatever) to make the changes, but this is a small price to pay for perfection.
And that’s it – these are the only useful writing tips I can genuinely say I invented myself and didn’t pick up from reading books or trawling the internet. This list is surely far from complete though, and I need your help to complete it: What secret writing tips are you using every day that nobody else knows about?
Original image courtesy of Xosé Castro Roig via Flickr. Text added.