Learn hard stuff until your brain is swoll

I’ve written over 100 articles. I’ve made a lot of mistakes (so many mistakes). I’ve had a lot of stinker stories. Above all, I’ve learned a lot. I wish I had access to these tips years ago…

You got a lot out of my first 10 writing tips. They have been collected over four decades of writing. I’ve amassed 101 writing tips that I wish I had when I started out. I am offering it as a free eBook… as soon as it is done. I’m on tip #95 (so close!).

Now here’s ten more tips for you to chew on.

Consistency breeds creativity

1 Consistency breeds creativity. Writer’s block exists… for non-professional writers. If you only write when you “feel like it,” you won’t get very far.

A professional gets up, sits down at the computer, and writes. Even if she doesn’t feel like it, she writes every day. Stephen King famously writes until he hits 2,000 words. Every. Single. Day.

A funny thing happens in your brain when you force it to come up with something creative every day. It starts to come up with creative things every day.

Your brain is a muscle. If you push it, it will become stronger. Treat your brain exactly the same as the gym. Lift heavy things until they aren’t heavy. Pick a heavier thing. Repeat until you are swoll. Learn hard stuff until your brain is swoll.

When you are a newbie at the gym, your muscles will hate you. The same thing will happen when you force yourself to write. Your brain will hate you. It will whine and complain. It will find other ways to “be productive.”

Cool. Go with that. Clean out the closet that you’ve “always meant to.”

By the way, brain. When you’re done with that, you still need to come up with 2,000 words.

Have a writing routine

2 Have a writing routine. Writers are creatures of habit. It’s all part of tricking your brain into being creative. You also get to pamper yourself a little bit.

I like to sleep in a little. Go for it.

I like to have a hard candy to suck on. Get down with your bad self.

I like a hot cup of coffee or tea. Go nuts.

I like to have a bowl of nuts to snack on. Oh yeah, baby. You know what to say.

You will get your best work when you’ve “trained” your brain to do a particular task. First, you do this. Then you do that. Finally, you write. It might be hard at first, but it gets easier. The cool part is that you get to pick the things that go into your “writing routine.” Need an excuse to wear that adult-size animal costume?

Done and done.

Make a routine, any time of day. Eat what you want. Listen to what you want. Then you write. Write a lot.

It’s a winwin.

A writer STILL needs multiple streams of income

3 A writer still needs multiple streams of income. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. It’s really important!

[https://medium.com/@matthew.wayne.mccabe/protect-yourself-from-mediums-pathetic-partner-program-2ef76e604d0a]

Any one stream of money is not reliable.

You can get laid off or fired. A website can close or change policy. Your eBook could become unpopular. A pandemic could kill your speaking gigs. Your personal blog could suddenly dry up. A firenado can wipe out an entire state and you have to work from your local Starbucks (it could happen).

Any one stream can end without warning. When all streams are flowing, the world is your oyster. When any stream dries up, you can find another. It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.

Unless it’s the end of the world. But that’s for another article. Unless… end of the world (shucky-darn).

It’s better safe than sorry.

Write once, use multiple times

4 Write once, use multiple times. Gary Vee is a master of this. You write a fabulous article. Go back through and find good pull-quotes. Now, turn each of these “quotables” into a tweet.

Make an image for free on Canva.com. Use a free image from Unsplash.com and combine it with your text. This is something great for Pinterest or Instagram.

Spin your brain on that single topic. Can you turn it into multiple articles? Can you tie all the articles together? Can each one be a chapter of an eBook?

That’s how I plan to create my eBook, 101 Writing Tips, Tricks, and Hacks: Create Stronger Prose (work in progress). The beauty of this method: the content is already written. All you have to do is collect the articles, edit them a bit, and add an introduction. Compile them all in Word, created a cover using Canva, and turned it into an ePub/Kindle version using Calibre.

Don’t worry. I’ll slow it down and write the eBook process step-by-step. Keep an eye on my articles for that.

One article can also be the brainchild of an online course or a video series. We are taught all our lives not to plagerize, but it’s not stealing if you wrote the source material. Steal from yourself with great abandon!

Embrace the marketing term “synergy.” That means that everything you do ties into one thing. Each piece of content you make is an advertisement for “that thing.”

Create a theme. Use that beautiful brain of yours.

Mmmmmm. Brains 🧟‍♂️

Nobody knows what to write about

5 Nobody knows what to write about. We all start with a blinking cursor on a blank page. It mocks us. I hate you, blinking cursor. If we were in The Matrix, I would kick you in the nards.

When you’ve written enough, you will discover your niche. This is “that thing” that you like to write and people like to read. You might hit it out of the park and find “that thing” with the first article you write. It took me about 150 articles to find my thing.

I help people become a complete human. Body. Soul. Mind. And Emotions.

Be careful that you don’t become a “one trick pony” (cough cough! Umair Haque!). Your niche can evolve to the point where every single article is almost identical. Don’t let this happen.

Upwork, TextBroker, and Freelancer do not pay well. Know your worth

6 Upwork, TextBroker, and Freelancer do not pay well. Know your worth. On the surface, it might seem cool to be a “content writer” and make money on what you write. That’s until you do the math. If you’re slaving away at your keyboard and making minimum wage, that’s only slightly better than cubical life. In my opinion, it’s worse. I would rather mindlessly flip burgers and write stories in my head. If you’re slaving away at your keyboard for less than minimum wage, full stop! Do not pass go. Do not collect a few pennies.

The same can be said of Medium.com. It’s cool in theory, but it’s not fair for every writer. You won’t agree with me if you’re making tons of money on Medium.com. Realize two things:

  • Not every writer has the same experience
  • You will not make money consistently

It’s OK to take a break… even a long one.

7 It’s OK to take a break… even a long one. I’ve gotten fed up with writing before. It usually happens when what you imagined writing to be slams into the reality of writing. It’s hard work. The pay sucks. No one notices you.

It’s OK to slink away. Lick your wounds. Change your perspective.

I took a full month off writing. I think I came back stronger.

After you have some distance from writing, you have two choices. You might decide that writing is not for you. Great! Now you can dive into a different passion-project.

If you find yourself drawn back into writing, guess what? You’re a writer. Sorry. Them’s the breaks.

You decide what to write, not your readers

8 You decide what to write, not your readers. Did you know that Stephen King has a fantasy novel? It’s called The Eyes of the Dragon. If you’re a fan of fantasy, you should give it a read. It’s quite good.

He wrote it for his daughter, who likes fantasy. It’s not his usual gig (spoiler alert: he writes mostly horror). I lot of fantasy fans loved the novel and would have liked a sequel, but that never happened.

I guess the world has more horror-loving fans than fantasy-loving fans.

My point is that I don’t get to decide what Stephen King writes. Steve decides (that’s what his friends call him).

Fans are great, but if they aren’t paying your rent… A writer gravitates to the place he can make most money. Or to connect with his daughter (as was the case here).

You write what you want to write. It can be the most paid, or it can just be the story you feel strongest about.

The best writing happens outside of your comfort zone.

9 What is the most powerful story you can write? The one that scares you to death. If it creates strong emotion in you, it will create strong emotion in your readers.

This can be any strong emotion. It can be hilarious. It can be heartbreaking. It can be scary. It can be embarrassing. It can be scandalous. Change the names if you have to, but write that story.

Do you live a very boring life? Don’t have any stories that evoke strong emotion? That just means you are a fiction writer. Imagine a story that creates a strong emotion in you.

Write that.

If you are bored writing it, they will be bored reading it

X If you are bored writing it, they will be bored reading it. This is very similar to tip #9. I stole from myself (tip #4). Finding a story you can really dig in to. It should inspire you. It should take a weight off your shoulders.

Pick something that is really “cool” to write about. If it makes you yawn, that’s no good. It’s no good for you and it’s no good for your readers.

If you’re writing non-fiction, pick a topic you want to learn more about. If is a true-experience, make it juicy. If it’s humor, it should make you laugh while you read it. At the very least, it should make other people laugh.

Until next time…

I learn more every day. I am putting together a massive eBook that contains all my writing tips. I’m thinking “101 Writing Tips, Tricks, and Hacks: Create Stronger Prose”

Coming soon! I’m on #95… It would be cool to get more than 101 tips. That way I would have 101+ tips (cool!). Follow me for more!


1 Comment

Reitha McCabe · August 24, 2020 at 8:37 am

well written.

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