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5 Steps to Better Writing

Freelance writing A guest post by Ahlam Yassin

The idea of conquering your fears and committing yourself completely to a single task for a limited amount of time may have more power than you’ve  ever imagined.  It has the power to eliminate procrastination, and conquer fears that are holding you back.  It also has the power to start making your writing materialize, because we all know that writing doesn’t happen when we’re just thinking about ideas.

Empowering yourself as a writer starts now; it begins with the transmission of ideas drifting in your mind into the written word.  Ideas that have been ripening in your mind for days, maybe weeks, well, it’s now time to push them out and commit these ideas to paper, and it doesn’t have to take hours, and here’s how:

  1. Begin with ripe ideas – Whether you’ve been gathering your ideas in a notebook, scattered sheets of paper or on your cell phone or computer, get them all in one place and take a look at each one. Which ones really pop out at you?  Choose one thought, sentence, or topic that really stands out.  When you’re drawn to something it’s much easier to work with.
  2. Outline – You may not be an outline person, but if you learn to be your writing life will be much easier.  You don’t need a detailed outline for a draft just something that will help the flow of your writing, and avoid getting stuck.  Go ahead, jot down the major points you want to explore and watch as your “thinking” time is reduced, and your “writing” time increases.
  3. Do your research later – If you need to do research, save it for later.  Creating an initial framework for your writing will help steer your research instead of spending an enormous amount of time aimlessly researching a topic.


  1. Get over your fear of being generic – In the race to be original, many have established that it’s a pretty difficult place to reach.  The ability to create something previously not said or done is far fetched.  However, the way to come as close to original as possible is to explore those ideas that have come before you with no fear or apprehension of being “unoriginal”.
  2. Be consistent – Many writers are so much more aggressive and determined in their minds than what their actions translate into.  The only way to reach a place of excellence, where you  move from good  to great to excellent,  is with consistency.  Not talent, consistency.  Not an innate genius, consistency…and no, it doesn’t count when you’re consistently inconsistent.

It may not be easy trying to get to your writing goals, but it’s not impossible either.  Getting a draft together is usually the hardest part of publishing a blog post, writing a query, or an article.  However, when you define your time, you will find the words begin to come out because they no longer have an excuse to hide! As a writer, you may love your craft but if you don’t learn how to think as a business person, broke may very well be the name of the game.

Ahlam Yassin is a freelance writer who has recently (re)ventured into this thing called twitter @prowriterinc

What works for you?  How do you write more quality content without spending hours on a single task?

Two newsletters:
Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

 Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Good post. Very informative and helpful for aspiring writers.

    • I’m glad you found it helpful Sania! And remember, once you’ve made the decision to write, you are a writer! Good luck (and hard work) on your journey.

  • Codruta

    Get over your fear of being generic – yes, that is a big problem for most of us. And we end up by no being at all- as, if you do not write you do not exist as a writer. So we punish ourselves in this way: maybe that comes out of pride a little bit. Our self-pride is so high(although we are unaware of that) that we do not want to allow a possible critic from the others or even from ourselves. I think we could gain more if we write, and then reread what we have written a few days later, when we see it differently, and if we still can we make the changes and if not, we assume the conclusions and we go on thinking that next time we will be better. Taking an action(writing) is better than taking no action.
    Great article, great point Ahlam.

    • Thanks Codruta!

      You’re right, we’ll never know what we’re capable of until we try.

      • as you say so well on your prowriterinc.com post!

  • These points are valid usage for writers at every level. I don’t use an outline, but find myself writing snippits of thought/ phrases on napkins, paper towels, magazine covers ! But, it’s all good, because somehow a decent post happens…

    Clara.
    Clara recently posted..Glitch Fix For Ebook Purchase!My Profile

    • Anne

      Sometimes I think we ought to throw the word, outline, out… I remember struggling with them in school. Lists, snippets, phrases, etc. all work… which is really the point… find a way to capture ideas and use them.

  • I don’t use outlines often, but I do use an organizational tool called mapping. I’ve heard it called by several variations, depending on the form the map takes, but essentially, you start with your main idea in the center and branch out from there. Each branch can become it’s own central idea, kind of like the branching of a tree. I’ve seen some very artistic ones called mind maps and I’ve even used another variations called bubble maps. The advantage of this is that it’s easier to add ideas. Feel you left something out? You can always add a new branch.

    I also like the idea of doing the research later. When I take part in NaNoWriMo, the maxim is write now, fill in the details later. The point is to write and get the basic idea of a novel on paper so that you have something to work with. Without that framework, you don’t have anything to work with.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Grady Pruitt recently posted..Want to know the best way to get out of debt fast?My Profile

    • Hi Grady! You’re so right about mind maps. They can also be saved and used in other areas of your writing/work. I have friends who rave about mind maps when preparing for a presentation or meeting clients. You can save a mind map and adapt it to a the writing project at hand, which can be a major time saver.
      Ahlam recently posted..3 Steps to Your Success (Yes, It’s Really that Easy)My Profile

    • Anne

      Mind mapping works for a lot of people Grady… I’m more linear than that, but appreciate there are lots of ways to get things done. Lists are what I actually do, rather than actually doing a formal outline.

  • A great point about getting over the fear of being generic – I think that if we write enough, our uniqueness will just naturally shine through. Everyone has something to bring to the table that’s different from the next person – maybe it’s their tone, or a certain way of describing things. Whatever it is, if the writer stops striving to be something that they’re not, innate originality will surface!
    Nicky Parry recently posted..Taste Buds #8My Profile

  • I love #1. Sometimes I worry I will never have an original idea and it discourages me. Thanks for the reminder.
    Carrie Schmeck recently posted..How I look may determine my choices?My Profile

  • Nice post. I like to take my shiny new story ideas and create a rough outline of each chapter. They are really rough – sometimes too rough. Ha ha. I’ll look at them months later and think, “What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

    🙂

    ~ Jenna
    Jenna recently posted..Books for Struggling Readers in Second and Third GradeMy Profile

    • Anne

      Rough drafts are called rough because that’s what they are… and we build from there.

    • Hi Jenna, I think we all have those moments when we’re like “whao, what was I thinking?!” from our wardrobes, to life choices and of course our writing! It’s all about watching the change from one point in our writing to another…and seeing how we’ve developed! BTW, my son LOVES the “Fly Guy” series 🙂
      Ahlam recently posted..3 Steps to Your Success (Yes, It’s Really that Easy)My Profile

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