Writing is a peculiar trade.
For those who love the written word, writing is almost magical. I (Chris) am a writer, and I often find that people are fascinated by my job. It seems too good to be true. They imagine, I suspect, that I spend most of my days with a quill pen and a tattered old journal, scribbling away in some scenic and secluded spot in the woods. The birds serenade me while I craft one masterful line after another. Somewhere in the distance, a faint hum of classical music wafts in the air. (This is not the case.)
Others, however, find writing tedious and exasperating. For these folks, if writing is magical, it’s a dark sort of magic, something that can’t be controlled and never turns out well. It seems like a waste of time, a task invented by sadistic schoolteachers who love nothing more than to wield their red editing pen.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle—or maybe, in both places at once. Writing is awesome and writing is terrible. I wouldn’t recommend it as a trade (it’s too frustrating). But I can’t imagine what it would take for someone to force me to stop (it’s too rewarding).
People often ask me how to improve their writing. I don’t consider myself the expert on this, but I have noticed some common features among good writers. So whether you’re planning on writing the next great American novel, getting started on a blog, or just trying to pass English 101, you can get better.
Here’s my slightly subjective and unashamedly unoriginal advice: