How to be a better writer

I am a terrible writer who produces something decent from time to time. That's how I feel about what I create. That's impostor syndrome for you. I suffer from it as much as the next guy. But I won't let it stop me from writing as much as possible.

I write every day. I have to. I've been doing this for years and certainly won't stop because my brain tells me to. (I do know that I am not that terrible. But I try to stay humble by reminding myself I still have much to learn. And a healthy amount of self-doubt helps a lot.)

Believing to be terrible at what I do has one benefit: I try extra hard. So, over the years, I collected different advice and rules to help better my writing.

I'll publish them here as a sort of reminder. Consider this to be my style guide. Maybe you find it helpful and learn something new.

  • "It is only by going through a lot of volume of work that… your work will be as good as your ambitions. "By Ira Glass. This translates to: Read a lot and write a lot.
  • "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. "By F. Scott Fitzgerald. Let me add to this quote: Live a life worth writing about.
  • Don't wait for inspiration, or you'll die waiting
  • Write every day as if your life depended on it. Because it does.
  • "This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard. "By Neil Gaiman.
  • Create an outline for whatever you have to say.
  • "All good writing begins with terrible first efforts. "By Anne Lamott.
  • Finish your first draft and let it rest for a few days.
  • Edit for flow, not for grammar. And: Write for yourself, edit for your readers.
  • You shouldn't have to care too much about grammar. Use tools and auto-correct.
  • Shorter sentences, even shorter paragraphs: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. " By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
  • Never dress up your vocabulary. Don't use fancy words to impress someone. "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."
  • Don't steal someone else's voice. Create your own, regardless of how long it takes.
  • Delete the word "that ". You won't need it in at least 90% of cases.
  • Delete "I think ". It strengthens your point.
  • Delete "seemingly" and its synonyms from your writing. Something either is or isn't. If you're unsure, you need more research.
  • Delete words ending in "-ing ". It simply sounds better.
  • "The adverb is not your friend. "By Stephen King.
  • "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings "By Stephen King.
  • Make people angry. If half of your readers love what you wrote and the other half hates it, that's when you know you created something meaningful.
  • Publish. Don't let perfectionism get in your way. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
  • Break these rules.