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.

  • 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

10 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

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

April 10, 2017 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).

April 11, 2017 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

April 11, 2017 6:55 am

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

April 11, 2017 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

April 12, 2017 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/

April 19, 2017 5:41 am

I like to see more blog from you Thanks for sharing

Majid Maskati
December 21, 2018 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!

July 24, 2019 6:06 am

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

January 16, 2021 1:49 am

Thanks for sharing this kind of information.

Most-read posts:

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

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.

follow  @WITANDDELIGHT

ELSEWHERE

PINTEREST

FACEBOOK

351k

3m

12.5k

INSTAGRAM