A Non-Writer’s Guide to Owning Writing

Career Development

So you have to write. Maybe it’s a term paper. Maybe it’s a cover letter. Either way, you’ve got to communicate with something other than emojis, dog gifs or your mouth. Staring at a blank page is intimidating for everyone, even people who get paid to write. So, how can you not only write something but write something well? 

Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Tell the Truth

In my opinion, what separates a writer from a non-writer is not a passionate opinion about the Oxford comma, but the willingness to tell the truth.

To do this, you may have to wade through some levels of bullshit that your brain will naturally offer up. You may want to talk about “Why I Had the Best Summer of My Life,” but a better essay will come out of acknowledging the harder truths about your summer. Conflict is at the heart of storytelling. Watch Finding Nemo if you don’t believe me.

Figure out what you truly want to say beneath all the pressure to impress, reassure or entertain. What you’ll find is probably more vulnerable, but that’s what people will connect with.

  • Say Something New and Say It Simply

Writers don’t just repeat popular points of view or “learned ideas” in sexy ways. They surface something new, raw and maybe even provocative. If you’re telling the truth, you probably do have something original to say. After all, your perspective isn’t just valid and worthwhile—it’s unique.

Resist the urge to reiterate your point, hoping at least one way of saying it will make sense. If you’re not used to being listened to (cuz, sexism), you may have developed a habit of repeating yourself. Instead, go the other way. Put words on a page and then think, what can I cut out? Make friends with your delete button.

  1. Write the Way You Actually Talk

You don’t have to be academic, precious, or formal to be a good writer. In fact, don’t try to be those things, unless you’re writing about The Iliad for school or composing cards for Hallmark.

Instead, write with the same words you’d use out loud with a friend. You can even be like Carrie Bradshaw and make up words if you want. And by all means, use contractions. Writing does not sound natural if you do not use contractions! (See?)

  • Think Visually

Does what you have to say lend itself to an unusual format? Should it be broken into sections with catchy headers? How can you add intrigue from a visual standpoint, not just with your words?

When it comes to your prose, try to add sensory imagery where you can. Look at pictures that can remind you of details your brain may have forgotten.

  • When Blocked, Do Research

Some great writers say they procrastinate by doing research into their subject matter when they don’t feel like writing. Use your creative paralysis productively.

Your life can also be research. Do something interesting if you have nothing to write about. When it comes to creative writing, I always say, write about what you know, or what no one knows. So, you know, millennial romance or alien invasions. Community college or dystopian futures. Traveling to Italy or getting stuck in purgatory. That’s better than a forced attempt to share someone else’s experience.

  • Have Fun

The best way to write originally is to tap into that part of your brain devoted to fun. You’ll be more likely to think laterally, to try new phrases and to remember sensory details. Worry less about avoiding clichés and more about inflecting your writing with passion and excitement. It will show. Bonus: Try collaborating with a friend who makes you laugh. That’s one of my favorite ways to write.

I hope these tips helped! Everyone has a story to tell—don’t let the idea that “you’re not a writer” stop you from sharing yours.

Image from Piccsy.com


BY Becky Lang - April 10, 2017

Did you know W&D now has a resource library of  Printable Art, Templates, Freebies, and more?

take me there 

Arrow Alone

Get Our Best W&D Resources

for designing a life well-lived

10 Comments  +

add a comment

  1. Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    April 10th, 2017 at 11:53 am

    I’m a writer myself, but these are definitely great ways for someone who doesn’t love writing to ease themselves into it!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Alex Austin

    April 10th, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    I said it on Twitter, but I’ll say it again: I love this! I’ve been wanting to write personal essays but don’t feel super confident in my writing (Besides gen ed English classes… I haven’t spent much time in a writing class).

  3. Natalie Harney

    April 11th, 2017 at 5:29 am

    I do a lot of writing, but I don’t see myself as a natural writer. I’m a big reader though. This was really interesting from a standpoint of making my writing my own and something a bit more engaging – so thank you!

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  4. Jordana @WhiteCabana

    April 11th, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Great advice! I’m a writing professor, and I definitely like the “write the way you talk” point.

  5. Katie Lewis

    April 11th, 2017 at 10:23 am

    I love the advice to tell the truth. It’s much harder than it sounds: You wonder what others will think of what you’ve revealed, how your loved ones will feel about being put on the spot and where you’ll go from there once your deepest and darkest have been revealed. But writing from a place of honesty always, always results in more compelling and engaging writing.

    http://www.kathryndlewis.com

  6. Khushboo

    April 12th, 2017 at 11:31 am

    This resonates with me so much! I have a blog but I am not a writer. English is not even my first language. So when I write, I write as if I am talking to someone. Expect random slangs and emojis 😀
    Khushboo
    http://www.thefunkybeans.com/

  7. raja

    April 19th, 2017 at 5:41 am

    I like to see more blog from you Thanks for sharing

  8. Majid Maskati

    December 21st, 2018 at 2:13 am

    Some of us think that writing is an easy job and writer have no scope. Well, You all are wrong and misguided by some people around you. WRITING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE OR EVERYONE CAN”T BE A WRITER UNLESS you have some qualities like thinking unique, ability to think beyond imagination, Courage to speak about the facts and time. I am being an Assignment Experts know these phases and I advise everyone not to do anything in a hurry!

  9. George Forbes

    May 25th, 2019 at 9:32 am

    https://google.com

  10. shillong teer hitt number

    July 24th, 2019 at 6:06 am

    All the time the best shillong game provide you opportunity to win the huge amount and change your life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

MORE LIKE THIS:

Why Decorating Your Home Is Good for Your Mental Health

What 10 Years of Blogging Taught Me

The Hidden Benefits of Being Incredibly Uncomfortable

6 Easy-to-Grow, Can’t Kill Houseplants for Beginners

The Golden Rule: A Dream Career Built From Love, Loss and Resilience

Introvert Dating An Extrovert? Here’s How To Make It Work

Tornadoes to Tablescapes: Life Inside the Lifestyle Blog

Black, White and Love All Over

Marriage – A Requirement of Commitment?

Women vs. Women, and a Little Thing Called “Self-Respect”

Homemade Green Tea and Honey Mask

An Apartment of Firsts: A Personal Story

A Weekend Wellness Getaway: My Experience at the Caldera Retreat

Why We Must Stop Allowing Our Career to Define Our Identity

Can We Still Be Good Enough If We Don’t Overcompensate?

Why I’m (Finally) Breaking up with My To-do List

Marriage Is Too Important to Take It Too Seriously

Toddler Products to Take You from Mealtime to Playtime to Bedtime (And Everything in Between)

MORE STORIES

Arrow Alone

the latest

Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

Hi, I'm Kate. Welcome to my happy place.

Easily navigate all our recommended products across beauty, fashion, decor, and wellness. 

SHOP W&D Loves ›

follow  @WITANDDELIGHT

ELSEWHERE

PINTEREST

FACEBOOK

333k

3m

12.5k

INSTAGRAM