You don't need to be a journalist. Or have a journalist degree. You don't need writing classes to become a better writer or blogger.
You don't need to watch classes online. Or pay a fortune to people that tell you they will teach you how to write.
No one can teach anyone how to write.
You actually don't need any education as a writer at all. No piece of paper certifying anything. Everybody can be a writer. You. Me. The homeless guy on the streets.
You just need to be literate. That's already about it.
Everything else is just training and exercising your writing muscle over and over again. Writing doesn't have anything to do with talent. Or waiting for that inspiration. The muse. No. That's not what writing is all about.
Writing is about sitting down. About working hard. Every single day.
If you believe that you don't have enough time, ten minutes a day is already enough to get you started. Write on your commute to work. On your commute back home. On that Friday night when you friend's are out drinking.
Nobody said that it's going to be easy. If stuff was easy everybody would be doing it...
Now let's a look at the things that helped me to become a better writer. Maybe they will also work for you. Maybe they won't. I sincerely hope though...
# Be a copycat.
Copy the hell out of your favorite authors. Write down the lines you love. Keep them at a safe place. And then once in a while use them. Use everything you can get. And then tweak it. Mix it up. Go crazy. There are no rules. No limits.
# Don't be an expert. No facts. Only stories.
The moment you seem like an expert that boasts one fact after another you might loose your readers. It might work for some people but for most of us it won't. Try to keep it real instead, be authentic and be yourself. Tell your stories.
Forget about stats, numbers or what not. This stuff bores the hell out of people. People buy newspapers when they want to read about boring stuff. Don't waste people's free time when they decide to break free. To spice up their lives.
Be the person that spices up their free time. Don't be the person that bores the hell out of them..
# Go on Quora.
Quora is like these shows back in the days where you could call in and ask all sorts of questions to the guy or gal on TV. They were some sort of psychologists or something like that. Now imagine this thing x 1bn and you'll get Quora.
Everybody with an Internet connection can ask whatever he or she wants to (in a written form). And then millions of people can answer.
It's a brilliant source of inspiration. Look for patterns. Look for questions that pop up over and over again. Write an answer. Then post it on your blog. And then on Quora. And then everywhere else...
# Idea lists.
Ideas are the currency of our century. Write down ideas. And once you have ten ideas for a specific topic make a blog post out of it. That's how I come up with most of these “list posts”. That's how I came up with the content for this post.
# Post on every platform.
I mentioned this already. But it's so important that I'll mention it once again.
Once you published your answer on Quora and your blog, publish it on every other platform out there. Be where your potential readers are. Don't wait for them to magically find you. Show up where they hang out. Move. Be flexible. Be agile. Be everywhere.
I call this customer service.
You go where your customers are. Others might call it spam. Those are the people that wait for other people to magically come across their blogs. To choose them. Never going to happen.
Here's the thing: most of my blog traffic comes from other platforms. Just the other day I published my post “Why we hate our jobs” on Quora. Apparently a lot of people hate their jobs on Quora. It got 30k+ views.
And then a lot of people clicked through my blog. Signed up for my newsletter and so on...
# Be human.
Don't try to wear a mask. Sooner or later people will realize that you're wearing a mask. That you're not being yourself. That you're trying to hide something from them. Instead, admit your flaws or it might backfire at some point. Be like Eminem.
# It's the title stupid.
Learn how to write titles that kick ass. That practically force people to read the stuff that comes next. The best articles won't get read if the title isn't bad ass. Experiment with different styles. Use Twitter. See what tweets get more clicks. More retweets. Tweak.
Do it all over again. And again and again.
And then put the best stuff in your first and your last two lines. The first two lines is where 99% of the people drop out. It has to be brilliant. Otherwise people will stop reading.
The last two lines are the make it or break it decision. If the last two lines are absolutely breathtaking people will share your piece of art.
If not, they might only hit the like button. Or don't do anything at all.
How do you do this? Go and check out your favorite writers or bloggers. Check their first and last two lines. Copy them. Mix it. Shake it up. And then come up with your own way of doing things...
# Screw your reputation.
The moment you think your reputation is at stake you already lost.
It will hold you back from writing amazing stuff. From telling fantastic stories. Stories that will excite people. Stories that might embarrass you. Your family. Your friends. Your colleagues.
If you're not ashamed in one way or another about the stuff you just wrote, no one is probably ever going to read it..
[Related: 121 Unusual Tips To Being A Better Writer]
# No alcohol.
Every time I drink even just a tiny bit of alcohol my brain doesn't seem to function properly anymore. It's not that I magically turn stupid (even though it sometimes feels like that).
It's more that I'm struggling very hard with getting started and staying focused.
Getting up and writing stuff every single (or second day) is already hard enough. If you give your brain just a tiny piece of hope that it might be able to escape an exhausting workout it will hold onto it.
You lizard brain will do everything to keep you away from writing.
It's scared to death. It wants to survive. And the only way it can survive is to hold you back. Hold you back from an adventurous life. A life you care about. All it wants is you to live a life in mediocrity. Forever.
# Start now even though you suck at it.
Don't wait until you become better. Start today. If you never start you will never get any better. It's as simple as that. If you tell yourself you suck at writing that's just an excuse. We all suck at things we just started.
Michael Jordan sucked when he started. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company Apple in the eighties. I got straight Ds and sometimes even Fs on my writings.
Get over yourself and accept the fact that you will wait your life away if you wait for better times. For times where you might magically be good at something. Unfortunately these times will never come...
# Screw grammar. Punctuation. Everything.
Write like you talk. Talk like you write. Forget about everything you learned in school. That was for poets. People that are dead now. Nobody understands poets anymore these days. Or lawyers. No one understands what they're saying or writing. At least I don't.
These days people understand maybe 5% of the stuff that's written in poems. Or laws.
Make sure people understand your writing. That you speak the same language.
# Be heavily opinionated.
Always have a very strong opinion about everything you write about. Be so heavily opinionated that some people will call you ignorant.
There are billions of people that have weak opinions. Don't be one of them. Don't be part of the anonymous mass...
# Write down your ideas.
Always have a piece of paper with you where you can write down your ideas. Or write them down on your phone. Or your tablet.
It doesn't matter. Because one moment you might have the world's best idea and the next moment it might be gone forever. Happened to me many times already...
Actually, don't take notes on your phone or your tablet. Stop using your phone all along. It will only distract you. Distract you from coming up with amazing ideas.
Instead, give your brain a break from time to time. Give it some room to breathe. It needs space to rejuvenate. To recharge its batteries.
# Go for walks.
A while ago I saw a picture on Facebook that said going for a walk will increase your brain activity by 100%. Maybe it was more. Maybe it was less. I don't know. I didn't read the article.
If you go for a walk it's like back in the days when we were hunters and gatherers.
The moment we go outside our brain starts to kick in. It starts to screen our surroundings for dangers. It's alert. Now you can go back to work...
I've put together a book with some of my best advice on writing.
Over the past 5 years I've written more than 1000 blog posts, published 10 books and more than 3 million people from all over the world read my stuff.
This book contains everything I've ever learned about writing. You can get your free copy here.
If you want to improve your writing skills or want to get started writing online, this is for you.
Click here to claim your copy now (it's free, for now)...
# Be selfish.
Don't read the stuff other people post on Facebook, Twitter or any other platform. The only thing that's going to happen is that you're going to drown. You're going to drown in the vast see of content pieces.
Pieces that will take away your focus. That will obscure your vision. You won't be able to think your own thoughts anymore.
Thoughts everywhere. No time to make sense of it all.
Stop jamming your brain with meaningless pieces of content. Read books instead. Read stories. Not some predigested pieces of facts.
# Get your ass kicked.
When people start kicking your ass you know you're on the right track. Every time someone reacts negatively to something you wrote, it means that you struck a chord. That deep down you pushed a button that person tried to hide. To run away from.
That's where you want to end up if you want to write impactful stuff. But don't offend or hurt anyone...
#Reinvent yourself. Innovate. Always.
This is a very important part, especially when you just started. Make sure that you reinvent your writing over and over again. Innovate. Surprise. Make your readers go “wow that was unexpected”. Write three pages long posts. One sentence long posts.. Heck, write a one word post.
It doesn't matter. Everything that matters is that you find out what your readers really like.
And once you found it go ahead and find something new they love. Never stop moving. That's the only way you might become (and stay) relevant...
# Don't try to be a fortune teller.
Don't put an idea in the drawer “that's too obvious”. I can't write about this. This is not smart enough.
What might be obvious to you might not be obvious to others. Sometimes the most obvious things I write about resonate the most with my readers. It's very strange...
Every time I tried to predict a post's success I was taught a lesson. A lesson that taught me that I suck at being a fortune teller. That I don't know anything about people. Or my writing. Or anything else...
# Grow organically.
Don't try to growth hack your way to success or traffic. Grow organically.
Improve your skills with your crowd size. The better you get, the bigger your audience. If you try to hack your growth the thing that's going to happen is that you're going to get bad traffic.
Traffic that consists of people walking away. Traffic that consists of people that are disappointed. People that expected great stuff but only got bad stuff. People that might never ever come back again.
# Write every day.
If one post wasn't successful ignore it. Admit defeat. Be upset for a while (or even longer if it feels right) and then get back up again. Dirt off your shoulders. Do the unexpected. Write the next piece. And then the next.
Do it as long as you have to. Do it until you struck a cord. And then write again. Be constantly creating. Innovating. Reinventing yourself. I know it's hard but that's the only way people will start taking you serious..
And then maybe one day you might get a like from your favorite writer on Facebook or a retweet on Twitter. Then you can finally open the champagne and start celebrating. Go crazy. Enjoy life to the fullest.
Or you can simply focus on what's most important to you... To me...
[Related: 121 Unusual Tips To Being A Better Writer]