What Are Your Writing Limits?

What Are Your Writing Limits?Photo license

You say you’re a writer? What’s your scope? Will you accept every writing job that comes your way? If you are a true master of writing, you can handle every writing type because you’ve done it.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with just being a master novelist, for example. There are many successful writers who stick to one type of writing. While specialization generally means death for a species, it is a necessity for individuals with careers. You will need to build up a CV of the right kind of writing if you want to impress potential employers.

All writing is part of the writing profession which is itself a specialization. But, tell someone you’re a writer and they will immediately ask what you write.

Any writing you do beyond your niche will make you a better overall writer. Good fiction and non-fiction have a bit of each other in them. Fictional stories are better when they accurately reflect the real world. Non-fiction is more interesting when it includes some stories.

The following short list of writing professions may give you ideas for pushing your limits. It is far from a complete list. What kinds of new writing could you do to push yourself as a writer?

Writing Professions

Article Writing
Blogging
Copy-writing
Freelancing
Magazine Writing
Nonfiction Books
Novels
Poetry
Screenwriting
Technical Writing

There’s not much overlap in that list. The finished products are similar for article writing, blogging and magazine writing, but otherwise every writing type is a different challenge.

Switching between one writing type and another will force you to change gears and think about writing a different length, a different topic, for a different audience, and for different motives. With practice, you will learn to shift gears faster.

It can be an aid to your writing career if you set limits. What kinds of writing don’t you want to do? Or, better, what do you most want to do? Can you limit your writing to the types you like best? The most profitable?

Another kind of writing limit is processes. Are there any steps in the writing process you’re weak on?

Writing Processes

Idea Generation

Do you take the lazy path to ideas and just read related books and articles so you can copy them? The hard way produces better, more interesting and unique material. Think about all aspects of your subject and relate it to everything you do. Read outside your subject. Live life. Always be on the lookout for ideas. Scribble every possibility in your notes. With practice, you will never be short on ideas.

Research

Much of what you write doesn’t require research. When you write about something you’ve done for a career, studied, or had for a hobby over a long period of time, you already did the research. Learning is a funny thing. We become competent enough to pass the tests set up by our school or employer and think that’s good enough. The best people in every profession are those who are constantly upgrading their knowledge and skills. That applies to writers especially.

After writing a lot about something we know, we can get out of the research habit. Moving on to a new subject, we read a few articles or a book and assume that’s good enough. If you want to excel at writing, it’s not. You can only be certain you know a topic well when you can convincingly argue opposing perspectives.

Research has the added bonus of exposing you to more ideas about your subject and that leads to more writing.

First Drafts / Prolific Writing

How can you skip the first draft? That doesn’t sound possible. But, it is. If you’re cleaning up your copy and re-writing paragraphs on the first draft, it’s not a first draft. It’s a second draft. It also slows your writing speed dramatically.

There are a few authors who re-write their first draft as they write so much that, when they are finished, they have completed the final draft. That’s a kind of prolific writing. It is also called pulp writing, because the finished product is often not very good. Pulp fiction started as short stories written very quickly because the pay was very poor. You can find many pulp article writing opportunities on internet writing job boards; just look for low pay rates.

The other kind of prolific writer is one who uses the multiple draft process being described here. By working through each draft quickly, a lot of writing gets done and is reviewed enough times to cut the “pulp”.

You should always write your first draft quickly with no corrections. Write a sentence or paragraph twice if you must, but work on overcoming the temptation. Keep driving straight through to the end with no braking. Mastering this stage goes a long way to speeding up your writing.

Second Drafts / Re-writing

Again, perfectionism is your enemy. You should only be fixing everything if you know you’re on the final draft. Second drafts are for re-writing, re-arranging, adding and deleting. This is where you make sure everything you need has made it in and all story or logic problems have been solved. In the first draft, all the parts were thrown together. In the second draft, the parts are fixed and sorted. Save the final draft for polishing and tweaking.

Final Drafts / Editing

Proofreading and editing aren’t very rewarding. Your word count doesn’t go up. You can’t put your ideas to work. It doesn’t seem like you’re getting anywhere. Some writers merge this as a part of their second draft process and give it limited attention. There have been a few books published that never saw a proofreader. Some are even great books. But if you or I try sending off a manuscript with no proofreading, we can expect a rejection slip.

One way to increase the value of proofreading and editing is to consider a finalized article or chapter as a milestone. If you track daily article counts, this can give you a sense of progress to make up for the tedium. Now, what about this final draft?

What should we be doing for proofreading and editing? This is the list I use for long fiction.

Spelling
Grammar
Sentence structure
Paragraph lengths
Flow
Read-aloud

Each of those could be a separate pass through your writing. Put them in pairs in the order shown and it will go much faster. Do all six at once for a super fast pass through your final cut. If you have a lot of issues, you may need more revisions. It all depends on your current level of writing skill.

I like to write tips on how to speed up your writing more than anything, but sometimes it pays to slow down and do it right.

Article by Ivan Izo.

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