Lessons in Content Writing Learned the Hard Way
Lessons learned on bed of roses are often forgotten but those learned on prickles and spikes stay printed in your mind. Taking the road less traveled may throw you in fire and deep seas or just bring sunshine and rainbows but it sure changes you as a person and your perspectives.
I have been a writer for quiet a long but it took time and substantial amount of learning and practice to get running, and there are some core lessons I learned the hard way over the past few years.
1. Read Good Literature and Newspaper.
This is the first and the fundamental step that you need to take, before you enter the profession of writing, no matter you may be a copy writer, jingle writer, lyricist, translator, content writer, etc. This is where you begin.
Every language has it’s literature books written by past writers, pick them up, Since I am an English writer, for people wanting to take up writing in the English language or want to improve, I would recommend books such as:
- A Study In Scarlet – by, Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Importance of Being Earnest – by, Oscar Wilde
- The PickWick Papers – by, Charles Dickens
If you don’t find these interesting, there are few widely popular ones in today’s era and are equally good:
- The Lord of The Rings – by, J.R.R Tolkien
- The Chronicles of Narnia – by, C.S. Lewis
- Harry Potter (Series) – J.K. Rowling
If you are game on and would like to step up the level, then I would recommend reading books by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde or you can take up any of the books listed here.
Take your time, don’t rush, you need to understand the context in each chapter of the book you are reading.
Now, this happens a lot, when reading the works of the writers mentioned above you may get lost in another world which is nowhere equivalent to the one your are presently living in, and that’s why I recommend reading newspapers too.
Most of the Newspapers that I have come across, have journalists, reporters and content writers who draft a very good descriptive article. Reading newspaper will give you a good hold of explaining situations or circumstances in a perfectly concise and detailed manner.
If you are still not satisfied with your local English newspaper, then I suggest, connect to the internet and take up any of these 3:
A daily 1 hour concentrated reading is enough to get you polished on your language and over a period of you’ll also have a command over it, which is highly important if you want to be good at writing.
2. Optimize your Platform.
Whatever platform you have been given or have chosen, it may be WordPress, PostHaven, Tumblr, Quora, Wattpad, Storify or something else, make sure your platform and posts are well optimized for search engines.
Understand this, I am not suggesting you write for search engines, but it is good to have your platform and your posts optimized for search engines.
If you are opting for wordpress like we did, you can install the yoast seo plugin, it’s simple to use and free and helps in seo optimizing your articles.
For first time writers, who are starting on their own, If you are more into story writing or poems, go for storify or wattpad, for anything other than stories and poems I recommend wordpress.com, my favorite and am being a bit bias, but it will teach you some really good technical stuffs other than just writing.
If you don’t like to get too much into technical stuffs and just want to start writing, then go with tumblr or quora, you’ll have a good number of viewership which will keep you motivated and if you follow and interact with the people of similar interests and having experience, you may also get some feedbacks which truly helps in the early stages.
3. How to Start?
This is the most commonly asked question. With your reading experience you’ll get the idea of how to get started, but if you have not, here are a few tips:
If you are writing a product or service review or an article on them, first understand, what’s the problem the product or service is trying to solve or is there something that it’s improving on. Explain the same to your audience, write it in a very clear and concise manner, then slowly introduce the solution i.e. the product or the service and then explain how it works and what are it’s features. if you can write comparison of the product’s features with some other well-known similar product, that would be a good addition.
In case of writing a story, start with a location by explaining the scene around your character or object, then continue ahead explaining a bit about the circumstances, the current situation and then move on towards the characters and their actions. A story needs to be exciting and should be interesting enough to have the readers complete attention.
When you are writing about an incident or event that took place, take the same approach as that of story writing, but this time your writing needs to be more provocative, don’t ask too many questions, ask only if needed.
4. Select and Use your Social Networks wisely.
Depending on what kind of articles or stories you choose to write, select your social network accordingly. Facebook isn’t the answer for everything. You may even receive a backlash and end up collecting misleading comments.
If you write stories, you may be using wordpress, storify or wattpad as your platform, but for sharing I’ll recommend tumblr and twitter. Tumblrites are really active users and you may also receive feedbacks which will help you and keep you motivated.
If you are writing some technology related stuff, some product or service review then go for twitter, reddit, quora and Google+. Don’t forget facebook, but create a good facebook page and share other interesting stuffs as well.
In case for journalism, writing about incidents, events or issues, just go with facebook, twitter and reddit.
5. How to stay in practice?
For those who have taken up writing as a professional career, you will be scribbling and scripting everyday. You guys just need focus and keep improving.
For the newbies who are planning to enter or the ones who want to contribute write-ups to some blog or website or NGO platforms, If you are fortunate to have ample amount of time everyday so you can sit on your desk, in front of the computer and draft something, that’s absolutely great. But if you don’t, here’s what you can do:
Whenever you see something good, a good deed that happened in front of you, or you read a good article or book, watched an interesting video that made you laugh or touched you, or you are having a good weekend or holiday, write it as soon as you get off. You don’t need to write a lengthy article, just write what ever you feel like, it may be just a small paragraph or just 2 lines, keep writing, type it on your mobile or if you carry a notebook, diary or moleskin and a pen that’s fine. Every little time that you get use it.
Writing is an art. It needs to be practiced to be perfected, and as an artist you’ll go through trials and errors, don’t get impatient or demotivated, keep calm and carry on.
Image Credit: Holly Hayes