Friday, September 16, 2011

Putting Yourself on the Page: How to End Your Writing with Applause, Not Snores

For some, the most difficult part about the writing process is getting started. If you find that you struggle with where to begin, there are a few things that you can do in order to have a smoother take-off and a more exciting writing process.

1. Writing what you know plays a big role in the writing process. Even though many papers we write will be discovery drafts, starting with what you know is an excellent way to get your ideas brewing. Let's say, for instance, you are a trapeze artist who wants to write a letter to the manufacturer of ladders. Although there has to be a certain amount audience awareness, the content of the letter is equally important. Tell the manufacturers your story. Why is the quality of this ladder so important to you and your career? Give specifics. If you are climbing up the ladder and it breaks, your act is in jeopardy. So give a detailed account of your situation. Make yourself stand out. Tell the story about how you've practiced since you were five. Make them laugh. Make them cry.

2. Try to avoid using generic words. People love Cocoa Puffs for a reason. They are the non-generic brand. They have a cute little bird named Sonny and a catch phrase. They aren't just "Chocolate Puffs" with a brown box and a promise of good cereal. The two cereals may be the same, but only one of them makes you go "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs."

3. Write what you love. Chances are, when you are writing about something that you truly care about, the reader will be more likely to acknowledge your integrity. Although sometimes we have to write about things that we don't particularly enjoy writing about, there is always a way to turn it into something you care about. Say, for instance, that I have to write about two poems that I don't particularly like, or that I didn't get. Try to find something in the poem that you enjoy: the image of a chicken, the subject of love or family, the time period it was written in, nature, Anything! There are infinite ways of exploring a poem and there is bound to be a way that suits you. Writing can always be one-size-fits-all. You can always connect to it because it is your creation. You are the one who gets to choose if your writing is as exciting as the return of your favorite TV show, or as dull as a plastic spoon.

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