If you’ve ever thought…”But I’m not a good writer. How can I post great content when I’m not good at stringing words together. What do I do?”
For 5678. Very few people think they are good writers. I didn’t think I was a good writer until a whole bunch of people told me that I was and I finally decided to listen to them and start this blog on a website. They might have been messing with me but ultimately I decided I just didn’t care. Truth is, I just never thought my vocabulary was big enough.
Let me tell you a story about my bestie who uses big words that nobody knows. We were hanging out by the water cooler one afternoon when I asked her if I could buy her a coffee. She looked at me with her big South African eyeballs and said…”Why yes Diane. That would be lovely. I’m feeling a bit impecunious today.”
I’m like huh? Impecunious? What does that mean and who uses that word? We are best mates so she made some sort of backhanded side comment attacking my small town schooling and suggested that everyone in the world knows what the word impecunious meant.
I’m like….”I don’t think so.” We scuffled back and forth for a few minutes before I grabbed her hand, took her for an impromptu survey around our office. Turns out…I was right. (shock and awe). No one, and I mean no one, not even our fancy copywriter on the 5th floor…knew that she was basically telling me she was as broke as shit and couldn’t afford a coffee so would very much appreciate one. She had a million-dollar vocabulary but not two cents to buy a cuppa joe. Okay?
When I was a wee little girl, I always dreamed of becoming a writer. Travelling the world and writing but I would read these big, weighty books and there’d be like 10 words on each page that left me thinking… I wish someone would come up with an easier way to look up definitions. Remember, I’m a bit long in the tooth so there was no interweb that my family could afford back in the 70s. And nobody walked around with dictionaries or even knew where to locate one in their house. I remember thinking, I will never amass a vocabulary so large that I could write books as fabulous as the ones I was reading. I resigned myself to the thought that I could never be a writer.
But fast forward 30 years later, I am a writer. I’m a writer because I write. And I don’t use big lofty words that make me sound like an 18th-century schoolmarm. They aren’t relatable anyway. You end up sounding like a pompous jackass if you try. And nobody wants to read the rantings of a pompous jackass…let’s be honest.
What I recommend is grabbing an online writing journal (or I suppose you could use pen and paper too but that seems sort of Neanderthalian to me. My online app of choice is Penzu. The free app version is probably all you’ll ever need but full disclosure, I did shell out the 20 bucks for the premium version. Very chic-o-mondo of me. – See what I did there. I just made up a word that isn’t a word at all but I think you’ll understand what I’m trying to say. A piece of me thought if I just give these people some $ they won’t delete all my online rantings out of the blue or worse yet…publish to the web like a Kardashian sex tape. Not sure if that’s sound judgement but it’s what I’m going with.
Another great option is a website called 750words.com. Penzu feels like more of a fancy journal where you can insert images and quotes and organize your thoughts by the tides of the moon. Whereas, 750 Words takes on a more simplistic approach to motivating you to write. The website urges you to forget all about the rules and just write. And as an additional benefit, once you are done vomiting your thoughts out onto a page, it somehow has the ability to analyze your mood and feelings of the day simply by the words you’ve chosen. (insert creepy theme music)
Anyway, every day, I try and write a minimum of 750 words because they say that 750 words are equal to about 3 pages of your life’s memoir. Sometimes it’s complete jibberish. (okay…like now)
Just saying, I’ve been at this for what feels like something less than hours but more than minutes – and I’m still not at 750 words – feeling a bit too much pressure. Like the need to add stupid filler words…like impecunious! to make it to 750.
Bottom line, if you think you aren’t a great writer. You are. Okay, well, not if you are using impecunious in your storytelling. Unless you too have a bestie from South Africa who matriculated in the 70s and speaks like she has a couple of knitting needles in her paws. And you happen to be telling a story about her. Then yes, it works. Otherwise, a good writer is simply one who has her audience thinking…yeah sista..me too! If you can get someone to read to the end of your post, you have done well young Jedi master. And if you didn’t catch that, well, then maybe I’m not a great writer after all. (sigh)
My best advice is to forget everything Mrs.Crabtree told you in English class. Proper spelling is always important but sentence structure is really just a recommendation, not a rule. Write like you speak assuming you are fun and engaging and have a few friends, which of course you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this either.
Oh my goodness. I am literally like just over 50 words away from hitting my daily quota. Wait a second…no I’m not. phew. this is tough. I feel like eating a donut. Does that count for anything? A chocolate dipped, with maple sprinkles, jelly beans, double baked with a creamy filling…wait, that just sounds gross now but it sure is a lot of words. Still not 750 words but a lot of words. I’m dying to find out what this website will say about my state of mind. Will they find me witty or superfluous. Another big word that I’m pretty sure means talking out of my ass with nothing of worth to say. The point is…and I do have one. The more you practise writing, the more you make a daily habit of it, the easier it will become to you. What matters most isn’t what you write but that you write. You can always hire a good editor.
A few of my favourite books on the topic of how to be a great writer are:
“Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley
“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott
“The Artist’s Way” – Julia Cameron
Sign up for Laura Belgray’s stuff @Talkingshrimp.com – she’s great.
But there I have it. Did it. Signed, sealed and delivered.
btw…same bestie taught me “for 5678” which I think loosely translates to for F*ck’s sakes.
And with that…I close.
Wow Diane! You have written so many articles since I last visited. I love your enthusiasm and also impeccable – how its not too big a word 🙂 – ideas you mange to slip into your posts. You have inspired me. Also, how do you manage to keep up with posting regularly? Maybe you could write about it too in one of your next posts.
Oh Sonia, you are such a sweetheart. I’m glad to hear it and thank you. Posting regularly can be daunting at times…like now. Haha. As I sit here, in the middle of creating this week’s blog post. Stay tuned for some helpful tips along the way.
Loved this article! I always feel that I am not a good writer but I want to write about so many things. 🙂
Thanks Sanchi! I felt the same way. Honestly, once I starting writing 750 words every morning, regardless if it was gibberish or not, my writing improved dramatically. Keep at it.