Category Archives: General Writing

10 Tips to Write a Personal Statement That Works

how to write a personal statementAre you dreading to write that personal statement for your application?

You may feel overwhelmed by the task, but in reality your personal statement is a great opportunity. This is your chance to show the admissions committee the real you, the aspects of yourself that are not revealed by grades or test scores. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your personal statement.

1. Start with a personal inventory. Answer a set of questions about why you are attracted to this field or this school and how your past experiences have shaped you. Some good questions might be: What do you hope to get out of this career? How have your past jobs contributed to your growth? What challenges and hardships have you had to overcome?

2. Do some research ahead of time. What exactly is it about this school or this program that sets it apart in your mind? Uncover some specific information about the school to help you clarify this.

3. Respond specifically to the questions asked. Tailor your personal statement to the school to which you are applying. Try not to cut corners by using a one-size-fits-all personal statement for every school.

4. Include only items that are relevant. Focus on a clear thesis statement about why you are a great candidate for the program. Don’t litter your personal statement with an excess of trivial details. The reviewers don’t need to know your entire life story. Also try to avoid any statements that may be controversial (political or religious statements).

5. Be positive. This is a good place to address any obstacles that you have faced and how you overcame them. Whatever you mention as part of your story, spin it in a positive light and show that you have the resilience and determination to surmount challenges.

6. Write a strong opening paragraph. No pressure, but your first paragraph will make or break your personal statement. Put effort into making that opening paragraph a memorable attention-grabber, and you will have the reader’s attention throughout the rest of the essay.

7. Make your personal statement lively and interesting. The admissions committee will most likely be reading thousands of personal statements, so don’t bore them. Make your personal statement into a memorable story that showcases the real you.

8. Get specific. Any statement you make in your essay should be backed up with facts. Don’t just say that you are driven and goal-oriented. Cite specific accomplishments to prove that this is true.

9. Show your knowledge. The admissions committee is interested in what you have already learned about your chosen field of study. Reference classes you’ve taken or books that you’ve read. Use field-specific terminology to show you understand it.

10. Proofread not just once, but many times during the writing process. Ensure that your spelling, punctuation, and grammar are flawless. Professors care about the writing ability of their students, so don’t let a few silly errors obscure your potential.

It’s hard to stand out from so many other applicants, especially if you’re applying to a competitive field. Use this opportunity wisely, and you will certainly shine brighter than your competitors.

7 Reasons to Write Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

7-reasons-to-writeWriting an essay or a lab report can definitely seem like a chore! It’s hard work, and you can’t help thinking that there are other things you’d rather be doing.

But writing is not just some kind of meaningless ritual that professors compel you to do out of routine. There are many ways in which writing helps you long-term, in your classes, your career, and your personal life. Here’s how.

1. It enhances creativity and imagination. Writing gives you the opportunity to explore and use your imagination. Ultimately, that will improve your problem-solving abilities and help you feel more motivated. When you are able to use your imagination, learning can be more fun!

2. It allows you to demonstrate your learning. Sure, there are lots of different ways a student can show that he’s learned something, but let’s face it: most professors are going to require you to demonstrate what you’ve learned through a research paper, a lab report, or an essay prompt. If your writing skills are weak, that’s going to be an obstacle to showing your competence.

3. It helps you communicate your ideas clearly. The ability to write helps us express our feelings and ideas in all kinds of situations! Whether it’s a love letter to a significant other or a petition to affect the social change in your community, writing will help you clarify your thoughts and get them across clearly.

4. It is an essential skill for every academic area. No matter what your major is, your professors are going to expect you to be able to write. If you’re studying engineering or accounting, you may think that you won’t ever need to know how to write, but see the next point.

5. It is an important skill for almost every career. Are you planning to start your own business someday? Well, you’re going to need to write a business plan. Are you studying to become a nurse? Nurses need to write up notes on their patients every day. More importantly, research shows that employees with strong writing ability are statistically more likely to advance in their chosen careers, all the way up to the corporate level.

6. It helps you understand and remember information. What do you do when you’re going to the store and need to remember what you’re getting? You write it down, of course. That’s because writing aids memory. It’s the same with course material: taking the time to write about what you’re learning will help you remember and understand it better.

7. It helps you understand your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. There’s a reason why blogging and journaling are such popular activities. The act of writing helps us make sense of the story of our lives, so that we can set effective goals for our future growth.

We know that you’d rather be socializing with friends or vegging out in front of the TV. Writing is not necessarily the most fun activity in the world. But it will bring you some lasting benefits. And who knows? Once you start writing every day, you may even find that you love it.

How to Write an Evaluation Essay

write-evaluation-essayDo you ever read restaurant critiques or movie reviews? Of course, you do.

These reviews are examples of evaluation essays.

You might think that an evaluation essay does nothing more than express your opinion, but actually a good one is unbiased and rational.

There are three key elements of a good evaluation essay:

1. Criteria. Think about what makes a great movie. Great acting? A compelling story? Define the qualities of a great movie, a great restaurant, a great TV show. Defining this ahead of time makes your evaluation seem more objective and less opinionated.
2. Judgment. State how your subject measured up to your evaluation of the criteria. Be descriptive in your writing to engage the readers’ interest.
3. Evidence. Use facts and information to prove that the subject met your criteria, or didn’t.

Now that you know what the three elements of well-written evaluation essay are, here are the steps to writing it.

Come Up with a Topic

Begin with a list of general topics, like restaurants or beauty products. Then get more specific with names of specific products or businesses. Ideally, choose a topic that you already know about.

Write Your Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement will summarize your evaluation and briefly give your reasons for it. For example, you might say that Johnson’s Restaurant is great for families because of their good service, casual atmosphere, and kid-friendly menu.

Identify Your Audience and Subject

Describe the genre of service and the audience targeted by this product or service. For example, you might say that a certain kind of car is ideal for commuters who have to drive a lot because of its good gas mileage.

Outline Your Criteria

Detail the specific criteria by which you are evaluating your subject. For example, if you’re critiquing a band, you might mention melody, lyrics, and dynamics as your criteria.

Establish Whether Your Subject Met That Criteria

Support your evaluation with strong and specific reasons. You can do this through a chronological description of the subject or you can quote others who are talking about it. You may also describe your own personal experience, or draw a comparison to another subject in the same genre.

Depending on what your subject is, there are several different ways that you can structure your essay.

1. Compare/Contrast: Take an example of something that’s universally recognized as the best within that area, and begin your essay by comparing your subject to that.
2. Unfulfilled Expectations: Begin with what you expected to experience, and then explain that the subject exceeded this expectation, or failed to live up to it.
3. Description as Framework: Begin and end with a description of your experience of the subject. Break off midway through your description to give your evaluation. This structure keeps the reader in suspense.
4. Evaluate based on Criteria: After giving your introduction and evaluation, discuss how your subject performed in each of your criteria.
5. Cause and Effect Analysis: What effect does this subject have on your audience?

There is more than one way to write an evaluative essay, so try to have fun with this opportunity to articulate your opinion about something that matters to you.

How to Make Writing Fun: Simple Tips – Awesome Results

how-to-make-writing-funDo you struggle to write something? Lack inspiration to express your ideas? Then it’s time to inject your writing with a little fun!

Here are some simple tricks to get you excited about putting the words on the page and make the whole process more creative, engaging and FUN. Never underestimate the importance of having fun while writing and you will be greatly surprised with a result!

Give Yourself Challenging Goals

Having a goal increases your concentration and improves your chances of success. Having a challenging goal adds more fun to work. Therefore, try to make your goal super tough and urgent. Moreover, make sure it is concrete and measurable. For instance, challenge yourself to complete that essay in 30 minutes, even if it normally takes you an hour to prepare the first draft. You will see that competing your goal is fun!

Write in Other People’s Voice

This trick is used by most artists. When they learn how to paint, they try to copy the style of the famous artists before developing their own technique. You can do the same with writing. Isn’t it fun to pretend that you are someone else? Choose a writer whose style you like most of all. Then create your original piece of writing, but do it in their manner. Keep practicing until you feel confident using their writing style.

Reward Yourself

It’s really fun to be rewarded for completing some tasks. Rewards will inspire you and make you happy – that is much needed while writing. Think what may lift your mood and reward yourself with this thing after completing the next milestone. It can be a piece of your favorite cheesecake, a cup of coffee, a massage, best-loved film or a magazine. Decide what is best for you – you deserve a little celebration for every achievement!

Use Stickers

Another cool way to make your writing fun is to use stickers. Gather different stickers (people, places, animals, etc.) and cut them into pieces. Then put all of them in a bag and mix them up. Choose up to five stickers and try to create your own story with those objects or events. This activity is really creative, fun and entertaining.

Write to Someone

It can be an email, a message to your friend, a New Year’s card, or a letter to Santa. Writing to a real recipient is fun because it connects you with people in your life and ties to the real world. As you want people to understand your message, you’ll do your best to choose the right words and express ideas properly.

Practice a Relaxation Technique

Writing can be exciting and fun but it can also be very stressful. Make sure you know when to take a rest. Learn how to meditate or practice a new relaxation technique. Choose the exercise that works best for you. For example, you may work for 20 minutes and then have a five-minute break. Do some exercises or simply stretch your legs, just make sure to incorporate these methods into your writing schedule.

Use Drawing or Coloring

Allowing yourself to do something creative with your writing will help you produce better texts, particularly if you hate writing long passages. Use colored pencils or pens and write different words in different colors. You can also draw some pictures to illustrate the content you’ve prepared or replace some words with little drawings. No doubt, this creative way of organizing your writing will bring you a lot of positive emotions!

Write About Your Interests

Choose the topic for writing you are passionate about. You’ll be surprised how much you write about your favorite movie or a singer. The daunting writing process will turn into a smooth and engaging activity if you write about what matters to you. Avoid those topics that cause a writer’s block and choose something you are really interested in.

Even if you use some of these simple tips, you will notice a shift in your writing. Get creative, express yourself, share your interests and just HAVE FUN with your writing every single time! Isn’t it what you need?

Common Mistakes in College Paper Writing

essay-writing-mistakes

Writing assignments for college credit take all different shapes and requirements—and of course, present a variety of stresses. Ultimately, though, a paper is a great opportunity to explore your own ideas and express independent conclusions. Even if you admit to not being the best writer, there is room for success in college paper writing, as long as you see the pitfalls coming and divert via the route of clarity, logic, and compliance.

To follow are some common mistakes students make in college paper writing. Take heed and weed costly errors out of your prose; after all, mistakes are less often related to your skills as a writer, and more often the result of carelessness and bad habits.

Failing to Understand the Assignment

Not taking time to comprehend what a paper assignment calls for is a huge error. Most professors offer ample detail about what they want, so get into the fine print. If the professor assigns 500 words, meet that expectation. Don’t short the essay by 19 words and assume it’s fine because it’s still “in the ballpark.” It is always better to go over by 5 to 10 words (no more) than to miss a word-count benchmark. And don’t question this part of an assignment: there’s method to a prof’s madness in requiring that writers get it said in so many words.

Get clarity, too, on documentation requirements: are in-text citations appropriate, or does this instructor craves footnotes? Ask about how much and what kind of source material you should access and annotate, then dig into research.

Informal Language and Colloquialisms

An academic paper should be presented in formal, academic English; this is no time for “street talk” or for “text speak.” A good rule of thumb is to avoid abbreviations altogether (that includes contractions) and never to rely on slang or jargon. For example, the phrase “a lot” seems to convey something like “many” or “much.” In all actuality, though, “a lot” presents like a noun, especially with the article in play. The phrase is vague; leave it out.

Steer clear of everyday expressions and “trendy” language too, unless the professor indicates this college paper can accommodate it. Elevate tone, elevate content, and elevate end results.

Using First Person and Direct Address

Academic writing typically calls for some amount of objectivity, where first-person announcements like “I feel” or “I contend” aren’t the best options. After all, it is your essay, so isn’t the “In my opinion” construct a given? Take a step back. Distance yourself from the “speaker” platform by using “the author” in place of first person; just don’t get too carried away so that you end up sounding like a stuffed shirt!

And direct address (writing “you this, you that”) is just one more common mistake—and it’s particularly dangerous. Plug in “one” to keep from putting words into a reader’s mouth and to avoid making the reader feel targeted.

Misusing Basic Punctuation

One major pitfall for most writers, especially in college paper writing where authors are spread thin and in a rush, is punctuation. Being comma-happy means your prose is interruptive and stilted; not having an independent clause on either side of a semi-colon confuses a reader. Slow down and edit carefully. In fact, keep a style guide on hand: make use of writing resources available in the library and via online platforms, because every writer needs instant access to the rules and regs regarding grammar, punctuation, and usage.

Writing a Strong Hook Sentence: Start with a Knock-Out

hook-sentence

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in his “A Tale of Two Cities.” This sentence, with its riddle-like structure that both challenges and enthralls the reader, is often used to define the hook sentence concept. As the name implies, a hook sentence “hooks” the reader from the get-go and keeps him actively engaged with the words on the page. Getting the reader’s attention early on in your essay is paramount to keeping his attention going so that he’ll actually want to read the rest of your work. The good news is that you don’t need Dickensian aspirations to come up with a killer hook sentence for a simple essay. Let’s look at how you can sell your reader on what your essay has to offer.

Identify the Audience for Your Paper

If you’re writing an essay, you likely are writing to please one person only – your instructor, teacher, or professor. In this case, your audience is clearly defined, and the hook sentence that you write for this type of essay may be completely different from the hook you might come up with if you were writing an essay to share in the school paper with your friends. The audience determines the message that you portray in your hook sentence; it should speak directly to the audience, and the audience should be able to easily relate to what you say on its own level.

Figure Out What Matters to Your Audience

It can also help to determine what matters to your audience. Your professor is looking for specific information; likely this means that you should demonstrate knowledge of the subject being discussed. The professor may also be looking for mastery of APA or MLA style elements. By contrast, if you’re writing an opinion piece for the newspaper, then write with an eye to appealing to like-minded readers with whom you share a common concern.

Effective Hook Sentences

There is no formula for creating a hook sentence, so let your creativity and a few proven strategies guide you. Consider these examples:

  • Give advice. “If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend first.”
  • Provide an anecdote. Use a short or unbelievable factoid or story about an incident or person to get the reader’s attention. “Mariah Carey lives in an apartment worth millions of dollars, but her sister is homeless.”
  • Make a bold statement. “Before long, doctors will be able to print new kidneys using 3D printing systems.”
  • State a contradiction. “Donald Trump claims he can balance the national budget, but he’s filed bankruptcy several times.”
  • Define something as your hook. “Agoraphobics are people who do not go out of their homes for extended periods of time; some haven’t been shopping in years.”
  • Present the reader with a dilemma. “Enforcing immigration laws keeps terrorists out of the country, but it also breaks up families and destroys lives.”
  • Go for a quote. “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know” – W. H. Auden.
  • Open with humor. “I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
  • Ask the reader a rhetorical question. “What does it really mean to be bored?”
  • Share a statistic or factoid. “As many as 80 percent of students report cramming for finals the night before.”
  • Share a personal tidbit. “When I was growing up, there was no Internet, so kids looked up information in encyclopedias.”

Ultimately, the hook sentence you choose should be one that sparks interest and that is directly relatable to what you plan to write and the style you choose for your essay. A good hook can make or break your essay, so put a little elbow grease into crafting yours to make your essay shine.

7 Exercises to Improve Your Ability to Write Creatively

cliche

Writers, in general, are a pretty creative bunch. But, since there’s no such thing as being too creative, anyone could benefit from some imagination-boosting exercises.

Whether you’re in a creative slump, and it happens to everyone now and then, or you just want to expand your resources as a writer, there are lots of ways for you to open up your creative channels.

Here are some methods to help inspire you:

1) Make a list of 20 topics

Sometimes your greatest creative block will be coming up with new ideas. So, sit down and make a list of 20 different writing ideas. Of this list of 20, at least one should be workable. Start developing it. A great habit for you to develop would be to keep a list somewhere of story ideas. If you do this, you’ll end up with an incredible cache of topics to use when your inspiration runs dry.

2) Re-write

Take an old story or idea you’ve written and rework it. Make sure it’s not something you’re currently working on. If you’re too close to it, you’ll have trouble seeing it from a new perspective. As you rework it, take a completely different view. If you told a story about a family from the perspective of one of the children, try telling it from the perspective of the mother or from an omniscient perspective. This is an exercise in creating flexibility in your writing. You may go back to the piece from the original perspective, but with new insights about the other characters. Sometimes telling the story you don’t want to tell can help you tell the story you do want to tell.

3) Read

Follow William Faulkner’s advice: “Read, read, read. Read everything- trash, classics, good and bad and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write…” The more you read, the more you’ll be exposed to different writer’s voices and styles. You’ll get a sense for their mastery and their weaknesses. Don’t just read for pleasure. Read to examine different techniques such as transitions, character-building, suspense and dialogue. Then challenge yourself to use those techniques in your own work.

4) Try hand-writing

Martin Amis “I always do my draft in long hand because even the ink is part of the flow.” If you’re used to typing, take yourself out of your comfort zone. Buy a notebook and a pen or pencil and start writing in it. Hand-writing means you have to slow down your thoughts a little, as you can’t write as fast as you type. There’s also no erasing, so if you’re constantly self-editing by erasing your work, hand-writing may be a great way for you to tie up your inner editor and unleash your creative voice.

5) Use your pain

J.P. Donleavy “Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.” Everyone has had to face struggle in life. And struggle often makes for the best literature. Recount a moment or experience that was difficult for you. You could turn it into a poem, a story or an essay.

6) Free-write

Free-writing is all about release. If you need to unleash your creativity, try sitting down for 10-15 minutes and write without pausing, correcting or planning. Just write whatever comes to mind without any interruptions of the conscious mind. After you’re finished, go back and read what you wrote. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pick out an interesting concept or theme from your free-write and work it into a piece.

7) Switch genres

Creativity is the result of a flexible mind. If you write only essays or only short stories or only poetry, why not try something different? Choose another genre and see what comes up. It may feel strange and awkward, but by pushing yourself to do something different, you may discover a new source of creative thought. Try it.

Try one or all of these exercises to stimulate your mind’s creativity. It just may help you write better, more imaginative work. Good luck and happy writing!

Prewriting Techniques for Your Essay

prewriting

There are different prewriting techniques to help you structure your research before begin to write an essay. Prewriting techniques will make your topic clear and prevent you from getting stuck. Obviously, your professor is expecting to see a well-organized paper, which presents a story or a branch of interesting facts. Prewriting techniques and exercises will help you develop your argument and determine the course of draft.

Creating an outline

An outline will help you structure your essay in the way your audience can understand and follow it easily. You can make it informal: just put down your thesis statement, briefly describe what to begin with, in the introduction, move to the body of your paper and describe what every paragraph will discuss, and finally include what you want to say in the conclusion.
Sometimes professors ask their students to develop a detailed outline with headings and subheadings to show the bonds between facts and ideas in the essay. This one might look as follows:

Introduction

  • Attention grabber
  • Include an interesting fact or statistical data to grab your reader’s attention.

  • Brief background
  • Write a couple of sentences to describe the history of topic/issue.

  • Thesis statement
  • End it with a strong thesis statement which embodies the main argument of the paper.

Body paragraphs

  • Topic sentence
  • Every paragraph should contain a claim that shows what you are going to discuss in it.

  • Supporting argument
  • Explain the claim and don’t forget to support it with quotations from reliable sources.

  • Analysis
  • Explain how your argument supports the claim and essay’s thesis statement.

Conclusion

  • Restate your thesis statement.
  • Offer a solution for a problem if it is possible.
  • What are your ideas about the future analysis of the issue?
  • If your paper requires you to write about specific areas of the topic, include more detailed information about them in your body paragraphs.

Prewriting exercises

  • Question-asking

  • This exercise will help you to determine where to start with your writing. It requires you to write down a list of questions that are relevant to your topic. If something seems to be unclear about the topic, formulate legitimate questions and try to answer them when you begin to read background materials. This will help you clear up the air and get a lot of thoughts and ideas to start with. Also, think about the potential questions your audience may have and force yourself to find the answers. By means of these answers, you will get the general concept for your essay.

  • Brainstorming

  • Give yourself fifteen minutes and write down as many ideas and questions about the topic as you can. For example: What is the most interesting thing about this topic? What can my audience and I learn from this? What are the benefits of learning more about it? Most often these ideas are the main points of the topic.

  • Mindmapping

  • Take a piece of paper and a draw a circle in the center of it and write the subject of your essay in that circle. Below write down the main points you are going to discuss and circle each of them, too. Think of other ideas relevant to the main points, write them down below and connect them with lines. Repeat this process until you run out of ideas. This will help you identify the main points for your paper and discover how they are linked to each other.

  • Freewriting

  • Start with summarizing your topic in one sentence. Then write everything that comes to your mind about without censoring your ideas. Forget about grammar and punctuation, just let your ideas flow. Don’t pressure yourself to make it perfect and just don’t stop writing. If you give it a chance, it might work as a powerful creative tool and take your ideas somewhere extremely productive and unexpected.

Outlining and other prewriting exercises will help you to keep focused on every aspect of your research. It becomes particularly effective at times when you need to go back and clarify all important points not to miss something. Use these planning tips and you will never get lost in your drafting and writing!

How To Ask For Feedback on Your Writing

ask for feedback on your writing

No one was born a writer. All writers had to go through the process of “becoming a writer” and, if you’ve read as many writer’s biographies as I have, you’ll know that it wasn’t an easy path for anyone.

Maybe you want to ask for advice from a professional writer but you’re afraid they won’t respond. It’s a logical assumption that they won’t. Except for the fact that when they were starting out, many of today’s successful writers had mentors who were experienced and established.

It’s not impossible to get a writer to respond to a cold email requesting their advice. But it is a delicate endeavor and one that requires some finesse. Here are some tips on how to persuade a writer to write you back:

Read their work

First of all, if you’re going to write to a Stephen King or a Joyce Carol Oates and you’ve never read any of their work, you might want to either pick another author whose work you do know or crack open one or two of their books to get to know their writing better. It’s only fair if you’re asking them to read your works that you’ve at least done your homework and read some of theirs first.

Do background research

Read some interviews and biographical information about them. Follow their blog, Facebook Page or Twitter account if they have one. Find out what kind of philosophies they have about writing, how they got their start, what they’re currently working on. Having a feel for this information will help you craft a more personal letter. It will also help you not tread on their toes by accident. For example, if your chosen writer is an adamantly against e-books, you might not include the fact that you’re considering publishing your work as an e-book.

Work on your subject line

As with all writing, when it comes to titles, headlines and email subject lines, it’s all about grabbing their attention. It’s worth the time you put into perfecting your subject line pitch. Otherwise, even if you wrote the outstanding letter, you run the risk of them never even opening it.

Consider sending snail mail

It’s easy to ignore an email. Hardly anybody receives real mail today. There’s something about the effort you had to go through to handwrite a letter, put a stamp on it and send it off in the mailbox. That differentiates you from someone who shot off 100 emails to a bunch of famous authors. It’s the ultimate way to personalize a message. If you do send a letter by snail mail, make sure to include your email in the letter. Don’t expect them to sit down and write you a letter in reply. Make it easy for writers you want to reach out.

Why are you writing to them?

Can you articulate why it is that you’re writing to that authors in particular? Is it because you admire their work or you’re writing a book on a similar subject as one of their books? Is it because of something they said in an interview that captured your attention? Why do you think their advice would be helpful to you? Explaining this to the writers will help them take your request more seriously.

Keep it simple

You’re probably aware that professional writers are busy people. Asking them to take time away from their own projects to help you with yours is a delicate matter, so do them a favor by getting to the point fairly quickly. Professionals will appreciate you keeping your message brief. You might even want to acknowledge that you know they’re busy and you appreciate them taking them time to read and respond to your message.

What are your credentials?

People like to help people who they think are going to succeed. If you’ve published any other works, you should reference them. If you’ve won any awards or have an MFA or worked as an assistant to a famous screenwriter or author, or have worked in editing or publishing, then it would be good to mention those things. Whatever credentials you can (briefly) provide will help them get an idea of who you are and why spending time reading your work wouldn’t be a waste.

Ask them something specific

Try to ask writing experts something specific rather than something general. For example, don’t ask: How do I get published? That’s way too general and an annoying question to most authors. Where to begin? Instead ask a specific question. Make it something that’s relevant to their work or their experience that you think they will be able to give you the best answer about. It’s much easier for someone to reply to a specific question than to reply to a request for “advice” in general.

Do you have anything to offer them?

If you have something special to offer that you think they might appreciate, go ahead and offer it. If the author lives in the same area as you, go ahead and offer to take them to lunch or buy them a coffee. Maybe their next book is set in Brazil and you lived there for three years. Offer to share some of your experiences that might be helpful to them.

Make it easy for them to reach you

Give authors a lot of options for reaching you. Everyone has their preferred form of communication, so give them your phone number, email, and Skype account. Let them know when you’re available to talk and make sure you’re available if they try to contact you.

Thank them if they write back

If you do manage to catch their attention and they decide to respond to your message, make sure to thank them. It really is a big deal that well-known writers took the time to reply to you, so the least you can do is acknowledge their effort by letting them know how much you appreciate it. It will also make it easier for them to respond to you should you reach out to them again.

How to Stay Passionate about Writing

how to be passionate about writing

Every writer hits a dead end now and then. Creativity is a quality that’s defined by peaks and valleys. Many famous writers have gone through dry periods of writer’s block where they felt their work was worthless.

It’s not just fiction writers who suffer this fate. Journalists, researchers and even students also reach points where they feel uninspired by their work.

So what should you do if your spirit is lagging and you can’t find the joy and thrill in creating something new?

Go to conferences and workshops

Part of the challenge of writing is that it’s a solitary endeavor. And the human mind is a tricky beast, it can dry up pretty fast in the absence of outside stimulation. Attending writer’s workshops and conferences can spark your enthusiasm again. Getting feedback on your work can give you a new perspective on it. Hearing the advice of the coordinator can set you in a new direction.

Meet other people working on interesting projects, this will fill you with the desire to keep going or to start anew. Get yourself out of your work space – the site of so many frustrating hours – this can refresh your senses and help spark new ideas.

Try a different genre

If you’re a sociologist working on a dissertation, try writing poetry or fiction. If you’re a fiction writer, try writing an editorial article about something you feel passionate about. It’s a way for you to keep practicing writing without getting stuck in a rut.

It can also help take the pressure off. You’re not trying to publish a book of poems, you’re just playing around with words. You’re not aiming to become a journalist, you’re just finding another way to express yourself. Sometimes branching out into different areas and experimenting with styles can bring a light-heartedness to your work.

Re-read your favorite book

Some writers have a particular book that inspired them to write. Maybe it influenced their writing style or opened them up to new possibilities in writing. When you’re experiencing a lull in your work, go back to the early source of your inspiration. Re-read it. Religious people turn to their sacred texts when they’re in doubt. Turn to yours. What did it teach you all those years ago when you first read it? What does it teach you today?

Teach

If you’re struggling to find the purpose in your work, try teaching. There’s nothing better to light your fire than passing on the accumulated experiences of your years of writing to eager young writers. You’ll have the chance to take stock of all the challenges you’ve overcome to reach the point you’re at today. It may give you the courage to overcome your current block. Giving advice to them is also an indirect way of giving advice to yourself.

Make sure you have enough time

Maybe your problem isn’t lack of inspiration but burn-out. Did you take on too many commitments at once? Are you trying to balance work and family and over-stretching yourself? There’s nothing like having too much on your plate to snuff your creative fire. Exhaustion, stress and guilt are a toxic cocktail that only work to keep the muse at bay.

Rearrange your schedule to include enough time for leisure activities, to do the non-writing related things you’re passionate about. Sparking passion in other parts of your life may have a contagious effect on your writing life too. Also, allowing yourself space from your problems is what gives you the perspective to solve them.

Take on work that you love

Nothing kills your passion for writing like writing about subjects you find boring. So, if that’s what you’re doing, stop. There are more than enough writing gigs to go around in the area that you love. Take this advice from Ray Bradbury: “I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: ‘Am I being joyful?’ And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.”

Join a writer’s group

Preferably one that meets in-person rather than online, but if that’s not possible, then an online one is better than nothing. It helps to talk to other writers and share your work. Most writers tend to have a circle of writer friends, but it can be a tricky thing to depend on your friends to give you honest feedback. A group of professional writers can not only offer more objective advice, but they can give you the support and encouragement you need to work through difficult phases and reach the finish line.

Look at the small picture

Sometimes your writing dreams are too big. You want to write the Great American Novel or win the Nobel Prize for Literature. But instead you’re sitting in front of a blank screen every day. So, try something else. Don’t think about goals. Don’t even think about finishing your book. Think about today. One word after the other. And after you’re done, put it away and stop thinking about it. And then tomorrow do the same thing.

Take the pressure off to turn your passion on. Mark Twain explained his writing method this way: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Whatever lull you’re going through right now, remember that many writers before you have gone through it too. Don’t give up. Just make it to the bend. Once you round it, things will look different again.