If good writing takes practice and time to develop, is there anything you can do to support your mastery of the 5 Essentials and the 5 Skills? You bet there is, and today that’s what we’re going to look at: the 5 Habits you’ll want to embrace to help you produce quality, reliable writing.
Here they are:
- You have a writing schedule. Having a writing schedule helps you practice writing regularly and also helps you consistently produce content.
- You read. A lot. Reading a variety of materials—fiction, biographies, news, blogs—helps expose you to new, potentially useful information and also lets you see how other writers approach topics.
- You keep a running list of writing ideas and observations. Sometimes you’ll be awash with ideas, and sometimes you won’t be able to come up with a new concept if your life depended on it. Writing down stray ideas or observations routinely will help when you run into a dry spell of creativity.
- You leave yourself enough time to edit and proofread. Editing and proofreading aren’t just “extras” you throw in at the end of writing; they’re an integral part of the process.
- You maintain your credibility. This habit is especially crucial for showcasing your expertise. Credible writers produce their own, original content, and they also craft texts that are supported by sound reasoning and evidence.
How to Develop The 5 Habits for Good Writing:
1. Establish a Writing Schedule.
Whether you write for a living or use writing to supplement your income or business, set aside a specific amount of time every week where you write. Some people do best when they set specific times (e.g. Mondays & Wednesdays, from 9 AM to 11 AM), while others can get by with having a certain number of hours (e.g. 6 hours a week).
Personally, I do best with having a certain number of hours I spend writing. Since I freelance with editing and other projects, I need the flexibility. You’ll want to experiment with different approaches and choose the one that you’re able to uphold most consistently.
2. Set a Reading Schedule.
Like your writing schedule, this can be flexible. You still want to have some amount of consistency and continuity with when and how often you read.
For example, I make it a habit to read the news every morning for 20 minutes. I also make it a habit to read 1-2 fiction/non-fiction books a month. Sometimes I read a lot more than that, but I always ensure I’m reading short-form pieces daily and long-form works at least a few times a month.
3. Keep a Running List of Ideas.
Some people like to use a spiral notebook or a small journal, while others prefer using a note-taking program like OneNote or Evernote. Whatever format you use, try to make sure it’s easily accessible to you so that you can quickly write out your ideas or observations.
Personally, I like to make sure I include the date and day on all my notes, plus what I was doing or reading when I got the idea. If I read an article or news story that gave me the idea, I also like to include the URL for it (which is why I use OneNote; the web “clip” feature is perfect for that). If you use a notebook though, you could always write out the name of the article/story and the website.
4. Make Editing and Proofreading a Part of the Writing Process.
Putting words on paper is an integral part of the writing process, but you’re not done after you’ve finished the first draft.
You need to review and revise your writing several times, preferably on a schedule that spaces out your revisions. (Writing, then doing your final editing immediately is generally not a great idea.) Try to give yourself 24 hours between the time you finish your first draft and when you go back to look at the piece again, but even 15-20 minutes can be helpful if you’re really short on time.
5. Maintain Your Credibility.
There are three parts to this. First, you want to make sure you deliver on what you say you’re going to deliver on. If you can’t get something done in the amount of time you say that you will, then communicate with whomever is waiting on your writing. Being credible and trustworthy means being dependable.
Second, support your writing with reliable data. Whether you’re writing a term paper or a blog post, include specific details in your writing. Incorporating fact-based information allows your audience to evaluate your ideas on their merits. Yes, you might be writing about your opinion on something, but including evidence to support your opinions will help you sound more authoritative.
Third, ensure your work is your own and that you give credit when you need to. Nothing will undermine your credibility faster than people finding out you’re not giving them original material.
How do the 5 Habits Help me Sound Like an Expert?
These 5 Habits will help you enhance your writing skills and your productivity as a writer. For example, having a writing schedule helps you with self-management, while reading daily enhances your openness to new ideas.
The more informed and more consistent you can be with your content production, the more likely people will see you as an authoritative, dependable source on your particular subject matter.