Ok, here’s the boring and obvious truth-bomb: if you want to get better at something, you must practise. Case in point: My son got a skateboard for his recent birthday. Naturally, he’s keen to ride it, and to ride it well! As soon as he unwrapped his 4-wheeled gift, I’m certain he imagined himself whizzing along and doing all kinds of fancy tricks, wowing his friends and worrying his poor old mum…
And while he’s a pretty sporty kid, his first few outings did not go as well as he’d hoped. He fell. He stumbled. He cruised along effortlessly for 100 metres. Then toppled again as he attempted to (insert cool skater-jargon here..). He just couldn’t do it the way he imagined.
There were tears, frustration, anger. You know the drill.
Although he didn’t want to hear it, my son was completely across the ‘mothering 101’ advice I had for him:
‘You gotta start small.’
‘Build on your skills.’
‘Be patient and don’t give up.’
Plus all the encouraging reminders about all the other things he’s already good at, that will eventually work in his favour.
Writing is no different.
Writing is HARD! (Can I get a ‘heck, yeah!’?)
And the only way to get better at it, is to practise. One clumsy word, followed by a totally inspired one, then another awkward one.. at a time.
Sometimes, finding the right words to express what you want to say is really tough. (I’m not even talking about sounding eloquent or profound – how about simply making sense?!)
And if you’re using your words to help build your business, I hear you on the ‘what’s the point, no-one is listening anyway!’ front!
Here’s the thing. Every wanna-be skater had to learn to crawl first, then walk, then a bunch of other stuff, before even considering jumping on a skateboard! And every little effort is a step in the right direction, right?
So when it comes to your writing, start with little bits. Your confidence, voice and skills will grow as you go and your writing will improve.
When the prospect of 1000 words feels too daunting, go for a smaller task. (I reckon it’s always better to have created a few short lines than nothing at all). You’ll feel good about having produced something, and know that when the time is right, those good vibes will carry you through to your bigger, hairier and possibly scarier goal!
OK, let’s put on our protective gear and jump on the proverbial skateboard!
5 unusual places to practise your writing.
Everyone love a compliment, right? When you next find yourself raving to your friends about your new bike helmet, Arcade Fire album, or yoga bolster, why not go straight to the source and pen a review? Extend that love and tell a company how much you enjoyed their product. It’s so easy to submit an online review and it really does help the company too.
Did something not work, or you didn’t like something? It’s OK to give a bad review, so long as the words are constructive and coming from a good place. You are allowed to express yourself, baby!
Last year I submitted a review and the company liked my words so much, they got in touch to ask me to write their blog posts! Cool, huh?
2. 25 word or less competitions.
Admittedly, I have not cracked the code on this, but it’s so much fun to come up with 25 compelling words to stand a chance of winning something! OK, so the odds may not be great to actually win a prize, but you gotta be in it to win it, right?
Don’t wait until you go on holiday to say ‘wish you were here’! Scribble and post a few lines on a postcard to a friend, regardless of if she lives in the next suburb or the opposite hemisphere. Simply let her know you’re thinking of her. Oh, and with postcards, the cheesier the better!
4. Giving thanks.
I reckon thank and you are the most important words of all. And while it’s one thing to speak them, or text them, why not make a real, heartfelt impact by sharing a hand-written note of thanks to your dinner host, barista or bestie.
5. Get your primary-school creativity on.
Revisit your 5th-grade self and create an acrostic poem! Think of a theme word, then for each letter, write a word that relates to the theme. Like this:
O ff the beaten track
There you have it, a handful of small and fun writing projects to practise your writing. I hope some of the tips inspire you to find your flow, remind you that you can write, and that your words are absolutely important.
Want to practice right now? Shoot me a 3 line email about your favourite coffee shop, share your acrostic poem or simply say ‘hi’. I’m here to read your words, friend. x
PS – want my expert eyes on your words for FREE? Sign up to my newsletter list. Every month I open up 3 editing timeslots to take a peek at your writing and offer some advice.