By: Pam Rossow
There’s tons of writing advice in cyberspace that spells out how you must write, what you need to do to write well, when you should write it, and why you should write that way. If you ignore the subjective mandates, you will suffer harsh penalties and existential chaos.
While this blog will periodically focus on strategies to jump-start your writing, it will not be a tyranny where you must use these tools or suffer abject misery.
It will be a place free from authoritarianism where techniques will be suggested and you can accept or reject them. Cool?
I’ve learned a few things while writing. I’ve also seen some crazy stuff online. Some of the following tips are garbage and some of them are spot on. You decide. The underlined tips are hacks I think are most valuable.
Here are 33 writing dos and don’ts:
- Create a designated writing space.
- Ensure your writing space is comfortable but not so comfortable you’ll fall asleep.
- Copywriting should be boring and full of mundane facts.
- Use spellcheck but don’t rely on it.
- Use proper grammar (refer to Strunk’s The Elements of Style).
- Write without editing so you don’t interrupt your flow.
- Tune out distractions by muting your phone.
- Tell everyone on the planet you’ll be writing at x, y, z time and not to interrupt.
- Tell your dog not to interrupt you when he needs to go to the bathroom (kidding).
- Write at the same time each day.
- Write at the same time within your daily routine.
- Don’t write in your pajamas because you’ll look like a loser.
- Write in your pajamas.
- Drink gallons of coffee while writing otherwise you’re not a real writer.
- Optimize your content by stuffing as many keywords as you can into a 500 word article.
- 500 word articles are not real articles so don’t write them.
- 300 word articles are not real articles so don’t write them.
- Only approximately 1,500 word articles are real articles so write them.
- DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING. IT’S ALSO ANNOYING.
- Write while riding a unicorn.
- Write while sipping a glass of wine.
- Never switch tenses.
- Write while you are in emotional turmoil.
- Don’t write while you’re in emotional turmoil.
- Write in a coffee shop if you’re bored with your home writing space.
- Write with ambient background noise.
- Write while sitting in an aerodynamic chair while sitting at an aerodynamic desk.
- Write in a journal every day.
- If you don’t write in a journal every day, you’re a loser.
- If you don’t LOVE writing every day, you’re a big loser.
- If you don’t follow all of these writing mandates, you’re a loser.
- And, if you use adverbs, start sentences with conjunctions, and occasionally write in fragments, you’re the loser of losers.
- If you don’t love grammar so much you want to marry it, you’re a dumb writer.
While some of the above tips are practical like #20 and 27, other tips like #12 and #30 are plain ridiculous and were probably written by the author of 100 Writing Tips You Must Follow NOW or Your Writing Will DIE a Tortuous Death. Just kidding. I have no idea if there is a book out there with that title. But there probably is.
The Irony (warning, tense switch)
As a kid, I was crazy about writing. I wrote every moment I could and didn’t overthink the process. I was prolific. Even though the content quality corresponded with my age, I wrote more than I do now with less stress because I wasn’t analyzing every word, sending it to its untimely death.
You know what else? I used adverbs without guilt, the Oxford comma was not debated, and I didn’t have a little devil on my shoulder whispering in my ear that my writing sucked or that I shouldn’t pitch that site because I was just a little ant that wouldn’t be seen by the ginormous dragonfly.
It was a blissful time in my writing life and I miss every minute of it. Okay, well, most of it. Just not the content quality corresponding to my age part. Writing was fun!!! Oh, and I secretly pine for the days when I could exclamate without guilt. Also, I didn’t know what a content mill was. Such a blithe little girl!
What You Should Do, What I Should Do, What We Should Do
How many of you, freelance copywriters, wake up, grab your cup of coffee, and bound towards your computer hyped to write about 7 Ways You Can Die from Snow and Ice? Maybe 5 Defective Ways Your Car Was Built gets you going. I’ll take a chance and say these types of articles probably do not thrill you even if they pay (or paid) your bills.
What should you do? This is only a suggestion, remember? Write when you feel like it (unless you’re getting paid and you have a deadline).
Write when you’re in emotional turmoil. Write when you’re not in emotional turmoil. Write at a cozy desk or at a standing desk or at a desk that is really a TV tray table. Write in your PJs. Write in your dress clothes. Write naked.
Write from your heart or a deep conviction or because you’re sick and tired of reading another article telling you when or how or why you should write. Just write.
Am I right? Tell me what your favorite worst piece of writing advice you’ve received in the comment section. I’m dying to hear it… in the meantime, I’ll keep breathing.
Oh, btw, this article is exactly 919 words.