When I started writing my first book, I had no idea it would be one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Not only did it transform the way I write, it changed the way I look at writing completely. Here are a few things I learned while writing my first eBook, “Blogging For Profit: A Beginner’s Guide To Starting Your Very Own Web Business”.
1. Only Write When You Feel Like It, Or Quality Will Suffer
One of the great things about being an unknown independent publisher is that you have no expectations. You can take as long on your book as you want, you have no obligation to have it done by a certain time. Unfortunately, I’m the type of person that likes to get things done and over with quickly. As a result, I continued writing even when I no longer wished to be doing so. When I was doing my first round of editing for the book, I could clearly tell that certain sections seemed rushed, and the complete lack of detail forced me to completely rewrite those sections over again. Because I insisted on rushing, I actually spent more time when I had to go back and rewrite entire sections.
The same concept can apply to blogging. If you’re not in the mood to write an article, than don’t bother doing it. You would be wasting both your time, as well as your visitors time. If you absolutely must write, be sure to get up and take breaks. De-stressing is extremely important to maintain a good quality of writing.
2. Don’t Write If You’re Tired
Let’s be honest here. Sometimes it’s late and we’re having a hard time sleeping, so we decide we could use the extra time to get some work done. Unfortunately,
this isn’t always a great idea. While it may not seem like your body is tired, your mind certainly will be if you’ve gone a long period without sleep. When editing my book, you could clearly tell what sections I wrote when I was wide awake, and which sections I wrote at 3AM. The sections I wrote late into the night were horrific. I repeated the same ideas multiple times, and many of the sentences I wrote didn’t make any sense. There were some sections that were so strange, I could hardly tell what I was trying to say!
Sometimes it’s hard to notice, but your writing does get worse if you’re tired. That’s fine – we’re only human!
I prefer to structure my day so I’m doing the tasks that don’t require much thought at night. This way, I’m able to maximize the time I’m most alert and creative for writing tasks.
3. Your Writing Is Never Clear Enough
Sometimes ideas that make perfect sense to you will make absolutely no sense for others. When I thought my book was in a semi-acceptable state, I handed a copy to some friends for them to look over. The next day, I was shocked to find out that some of the sections I wrote made absolutely no sense to the readers. This book was aimed towards people who have never blogged before, so it was incredibly important that everything was clearly understood. Although I felt I had explained things as clearly as possible, it wasn’t enough. I spent the next few hours simplifying as much as I possibly could. As a result, my book is much easier to read and understand.
It’s important to remember that your readers will usually not have the knowledge and expertise that you have. Sometimes, you may not realize how much you know – what feels obvious to an expert like yourself doesn’t make any sense to newbies. Therefore, it’s important to explain things in a manner that can make sense for everyone. You can always make your writing clearer and easier to understand.
4. Distractions Will Kill Your Creativity
When I’m blogging, I tend to get up and do something else and come back to my article multiple times while I’m writing it. Writing a book showed me that this can actually be very bad for your creativity. It takes a little while to get into a serious writing mood. It takes a while to get into a state of mind where you’re concentrated, and can write creatively without as much effort. Unfortunately, distractions kill this concentration. Once your concentration is taken by some distraction (whether it be Facebook, a phone call, or someone coming in your room/office to bug you) it will take several minutes or more to get back into serious writing again. Try to stay focused on your writing until you take a break, then do everything else you need to do during that time. Once the break is over, minimize your distractions and get back to writing again.
This can be difficult, as tech companies have perfected the art of attention grabbing. Resisting the temptation to check the newest notification sent to you is a skill that must be built up over time.
5. Write First, Edit Later
One concept I learned when writing my book is to simply write what comes to mind, and focus on making it sound good later. I couldn’t possibly imagine how much longer my book would’ve taken if I had tried to edit it as I went. The best writing will come straight from your head. Get your ideas out on paper as soon as possible, or you’ll be stuck focusing on how to make one small section sound good. Your first draft should be bad – that’s why it’s a first draft. Say everything you want to say, then go back and edit it later.
6. Edit. Then Edit Again.
You won’t catch all of your mistakes the first time you edit your writing. If you can’t imagine by now, the first draft of my book was absolutely horrifying. Editing it was very challenging. In fact, I had to edit it four times on top of everyone else who helped look over it.
The first time was for spelling and grammar. Many, many mistakes there. This requires more than putting your writing into Microsoft Word’s spell checker – you actually have to read through it, because there will be sections it misses.
The second time was for sentence structure. Again, many mistakes. There was one sentence I used 6 commas, and another section where I started 5 sentences in a row with the same word. Ouch!
The third time was for word choice. I read the book out loud (which I HIGHLY recommend doing for your writing as well) and noticed that a lot of my word choices sounded funky. Reading it out loud allowed me to edit the book to make it sound more natural, and was extremely beneficial.
The fourth time was for clarity. If it weren’t for my friends helping me out, I never would’ve realized how unclear some of the book’s sections were.
The fifth time was to check over any other mistakes I may have missed.
While shorter articles may not need to be edited to such an extreme extent, it’s always a good idea to look over it at least twice. You’d be surprised how many mistakes you make without realizing it.
When I began writing my book, I couldn’t have possibly imagined how much it would benefit my writing. It was easily one of the most important things I’ve ever done, and I’ve become a better blogger as a result.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend trying to write a book about something in your niche. Not only will it bring you more website visitors, it will be an incredible learning experience!
Note: This book has since been expanded upon, and made into my blogging course!