10 Writing Tips You Absolutely Won’t Have Heard Anywhere Else Before

10 Writing Tips You Absolutely Won’t Have Heard Anywhere Else Before

Aren’t you tired of the same old writing tips?

You know, tips like:

  • Write every day without fail.
  • Find your best time of day to write.
  • Avoid distractions like Facebook and email.
  • Use a timer to work in short bursts, followed by a break.

Yes, they’re tried and tested. But chances are, you’ve either taken all of these on board already — or you’ve given them a go and found they simply don’t work for you.

And that’s why you need to try something different — a new approach to jolt your writer’s brain out of its rut and send it reeling in promising new directions.

So here are ten writing tips I bet you won’t have heard before. (If I’m wrong, tell me in the comments!)

They cover every stage of the writing process, from coming up with ideas to proofreading the finished product to staying motivated for the long haul.

Ready to be surprised?

Tip #1: Keep an Obsessively Detailed Log Book

Use a notebook or text document to record details about your writing sessions.

You might include:

  • The day, date, and time of day (e.g., Thursday, April 21)
  • How long you wrote — or the start and end times of your writing session
  • What you achieved (e.g., “wrote 500 words” or “finished blog post draft” or “planned out six blog posts”)
  • How you felt before, during, and after the session (e.g., “reluctant to get started but got into flow quickly and felt great for having written”)
  • Any lessons learned or things to remember for the future (e.g., “really struggled to focus after a long day at the office — try writing before work instead”)

This may sound like a lot of extra work. In practice, it should take about three minutes. Your log book is a crucial tool for becoming a more effective, self-aware writer: think of it as “analytics” for your writing life.

After keeping a log for a couple of weeks, look out for patterns. Perhaps you always seem to get more written during morning sessions than afternoon ones, or you often find yourself feeling like doing anything instead of starting … only to enjoy yourself once you get going.

Tip #2: Just Open the Damn Document (Then Keep Going)

If you’re working on a biggish piece of content, like a long blog post, a special report or even an ebook, it can be tough to summon up the motivation to get going — or to pick it back up after some time away.

So here’s a nifty little trick. Tell yourself “I’ll just open the damn document.”

That really is easy, and almost effortless. Find the document, open it up. Takes a few seconds.

Then tell yourself, “Now that the document’s open, I’ll just write one sentence.”

One sentence. It’s like one push-up: so easy you’d feel pathetic if you wimped out.

Then, “I’ll just finish this one paragraph.”

… and so on.

After a couple of minutes, your initial (and natural) reluctance to get started will have vanished, and you’ll be writing. Chances are, you’ll get a heck of a lot more done than if you tried telling yourself up front, “I have to write for an hour.”

And if you do give in after that one paragraph? Heck, you still did brilliantly — after all, you’d only initially committed to opening the document.

Tip #3: Use Fire to Spark Your Imagination

While I’m a big fan of timers, I’ll admit that there’s nothing especially relaxing about having one ticking away (even virtually and silently) while you’re writing.

One of my blog’s readers mentioned a key part of his writing ritual that I’ve shamelessly stolen: lighting a candle when you’re writing.

Fire has all sorts of resonances for writers: how often have you heard people talking about “sparking” an idea or “kindling” inspiration? (It’s no accident, of course, that Amazon called its e-reader the Kindle.)

A flame also offers a focus point: you might have used it in this way if you’re into meditation. As a writer, you can use the flame as a gentle reminder of your intention to spend time working on something meaningful to you.

(If your rental contract/small child/excitable pet rules out candles? Try fairy lights.)

Tip #4: Throw Linear Writing Out the Window

One key sticking place for many bloggers is between the initial plan for a post and the first draft. (Once you’ve got a first draft down, however rough, you’ve at least got something to work with.)

If you find yourself struggling and sweating over the first draft, approach it differently. Instead of trying to write grammatical prose that flows all the way from the first line to final call to action, jump in wherever you like.

For instance, your plan might be a list of subheadings with a few notes-to-self about what you want to include in each section. Since you’ve got the structure down already, there’s no need to work from beginning to end when you write.

Instead of beginning with the introduction (which is always tough to get right), you can start straight in with your first point. Or, if you prefer, your fifth.

As long as you edit afterward to make sure your post flows, there’s nothing wrong with this scatter-gun approach to drafting. It can get you past any initial reluctance to write, and you may well find it’s actually more efficient to write your introduction or the tougher sections once you’ve got the rest of the post done.

Tip #5: Break Familiar Patterns by Switching Media

If your thoughts just aren’t flowing as you draft, how about writing in a different medium?

You might never have considered this, but there’s no reason why you can’t draft your blog posts in old-fashioned ink on old-fashioned paper. You may find that the composition process feels quite different when you’re writing letters instead of tapping keys — and you may also find yourself focusing or thinking in a subtly different way.

If pen and paper don’t work for you, how about drafting a blog post or newsletter on your phone? Yes, you won’t be able to type as fast … but that might shake up your writing style. You may also feel closer to your readers’ experience of your posts (a good number of them will be reading on phones or tablets).

Another option is dictation: speak your blog posts instead of typing them. If you want to write in a more conversational manner, this can be a great way to bring your speech patterns into your blog posts.

Dictation can also speed you up significantly (though you’ll need to allow extra editing time). A fairly fast writer might take an hour to write 1,000 words; dictation might get you that far in just ten minutes.

Tip #6: “Tie Your Hands” with an Artificial Restriction

If you feel stuck in a rut with your blog posts, an artificial restriction is a great way to force yourself to pay close attention to your word choices. For instance:

  • Don’t use any words that contain the letter E.
  • Start the first sentence of your post with the letter A, the second sentence with B, and so on. If you get as far as Z, begin again — or work backward.
  • Only write sentences of eight words or less.
  • Don’t use adjectives or adverbs.
  • Include a number of “prompt words” at some point within your post. (You can get eight random ones here.)

If you find that doing this during the first draft slows you down too much, then you could use a restriction while editing instead.

You needn’t keep the restriction in place for your final draft, but sticking to it during the development process will take your writing in some interesting directions.

Tip #7: When Brainstorming, Use “Maybe”

There’s plenty of great advice out there about creating plans for your content — whether that’s a blog post or a full ebook. I’m sure you’ve read your share of blog posts dealing with index cards, mind maps, linear outlines…

… and you might feel like you’re missing something. If you’re like me, you sometimes sit down to make a mind map and seize up. You just don’t know where to begin.

Instead of trying to throw definite ideas at the page, deliberately loosen up. Instead of making decisions, play around with possibilities.

The best way to do this is to add one simple little word: maybe.

Maybe collate reader comments into a post, with a quick introduction and summing-up…

Maybe write a blog post that includes dialogue (like a short story)…

Maybe include a Q&A section in my weekly newsletter…

Maybe write a series of posts on…

Adding in “maybe” can free you up to scribble down things that you’re feeling unsure about. Seeing them on the page (or screen), though, can often spark off a new train of thought … or you might just realize that the idea was a pretty good one after all.

Tip #8: Challenge Yourself to Write in Weird Places

Hopefully, you’ve got a decent place to write: somewhere you can be comfortable and relatively undisturbed. It might be a spare bedroom, a desk out in the shed, or a corner table at your favorite coffee shop. When you’re there, you (usually!) feel like writing.

But … you can’t always be at your desk. So even if you don’t have to write in odd places, potentially at odd times, challenge yourself to do so. You may find that the tension of writing somewhere new provokes new thoughts. Try:

  • In the car (as a passenger, or when waiting to pick someone up)
  • On a park bench — writing outside can be weirdly freeing
  • In a blanket fort or secret den — it doesn’t matter how old you are! As a teen, I had a writing nook in the eaves of our attic, and it was a great place for brainstorming.
  • Any time you’re waiting around: at the dentist’s, at your kid’s football match, in a school hall waiting for a play or recital to begin, in the kitchen while keeping an eye on dinner…

(I’d love to hear about the weirdest place you’ve written. Drop a comment below to share!)

Tip #9: “Top and Tail” Your Writing

This is one of those tips that sounds so simple, you might well doubt it actually works.

All I can say is, … try it.

Next time you draft anything, cut the first and last paragraph … and see if your piece is stronger without them.

Often it will be. If the piece doesn’t work without them, try cutting the first and last sentence instead.

(If you’re working on a long post, or if you know you have a tendency to over-write, try cutting the first and last paragraph or sentence of each section as well.)

Why does this work? When you’re drafting, it’s tempting to start off with a bit of virtual throat-clearing: a warm-up paragraph that doesn’t really say much. Often, your real hook comes in the second paragraph.

Similarly, when you finish a post, you might be tempted to round everything off neatly. Sometimes stopping a little sooner makes for a more powerful ending (and potentially more room for readers to add their take in the comments).

Tip #10: Stop Seeking Approval — Focus on One Good Enemy

When I was a very young and fledgling writer, I came across the article One Good Enemy by Holly Lisle. It’s stuck with me for over fifteen years. I’d recommend reading it — it’s a powerful piece of writing — but if you want the gist, here it is:

Instead of wishing you had a supportive friend or mentor to cheer you along, maybe what you really need is someone whom you want to prove wrong. One good enemy who’s told you “you can’t do it” (or, in Holly’s case, “you can’t make it without me”).

That “enemy” might be, for you, someone who left a horrible comment on your blog. It might be your big brother, who’s always outshone you in everything. It might be a day-job colleague or even your boss, rolling their eyes at your dreams of making it in blogging.

Perhaps aiming for “I told you so” isn’t the nicest of motivations … but if it works for you, then use it.

Take the Road Less Traveled and See Your Writing Soar

There’s a ton of great writing advice out there.

And none of it will do you a bit of good unless you actually do something with it.

To grow as a writer (and to grow your blog), you don’t need to put in a super-human effort.

But you do need to write. And you need to tweak your writing habits so they work well for you.

Today, pick just one of the unusual tips above to try out.

Who knows where it could lead?

Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. She’s the author of The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing, an in-depth ebook that teaches you how to craft great posts that readers will love — with exclusive post templates and video analysis of published blog posts to help you put what you learn into practice. Find out more about it (and her other Blogger’s Guides) here — and enter the coupon code “smartblogger” for a 30% discount.

102 Comments

  1. Kevin J. Duncan
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:07:41

    Hey Ali,

    Great to see you back on SB (formerly BBT)! Your headline makes a bold promise, but I love the tips you shared. And yes, just about all of them were new to me!

    I especially like your “Artificial Restriction” — specifically, the “don’t use adjectives or adverbs” example. Now THAT would be a tricky writing exercise (especially for someone as adjective happy as I am sometimes). 🙂

    Off to tweet. Thanks for the great post, Ali. Hope you are doing well.

    – @kevinjduncan

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:38:50

      Thanks Kevin, it’s great to be back!

      You can find whole novels written with various artificial restrictions (e.g. “e-prime”, which avoids all forms of the verb “to be”). I wouldn’t want to go that far myself, though..!

      Fiction-writers are often told to use as few adjectives and adverbs as possible; in blogging, of course, they’re considerably more popular (particularly in headlines). I think some bloggers do go a bit over the top, though, and avoiding adjectives and adverbs altogether can potentially force more interesting word choices — and possibly better thinking too.

  2. Peter Banerjea
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:18:47

    Hey Ali,
    Great tips! Actually No 1 is not too difficult to do. I have used Toggl and Timedoctor to keep track of my writing. Once you begin a habit of doing that you can add keeping more detailed observations to the ritual! Something that SJ Scott calls habit stacking.
    Cheers,
    Pete

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:39:49

      Ooh, thanks Pete, I’ve never come across Toggl or Timedoctor (though I’ve used Rescue Time and various lower tech solutions to track my time!) — will have to look into those. 🙂

      • Megan
        Apr 22, 2016 @ 05:10:58

        Toggl is definitely worth a try!

  3. David Boozer
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:18:52

    Great post Ali! I am going to give #6 a try, that sounds like not only fun, but a good practice as well! Thank you!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:40:24

      You’re welcome, David! Let us know how you get on — what restriction are you going for? 🙂

  4. Theodore Nwangene
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:39:29

    This is very epic Ali,
    I couldn’t have agreed more. Writing is a thing we learn as we practice.

    We all know that’s its not easy but once you make it a habit, it can become a lot easier.

    I love the idea of ” Throwing Linear Writing Out the Window”. That sounds so sweet.

    When trying to write most times, if you stick to getting it all right accordingly the first time, you may end up getting confused and tire hence, the more reason why Its good to just start from anywhere.

    Like you said, if what pops out of your mind first is the concluding part of the post then, start from there. It does not really matter where you started from, the main thing is to get your thoughts down then, come back and connect the dots later.

    A very superb post Ali, thanks for sharing.

    Going to share immediately.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:44:19

      Thanks for all the kind words, Theodore (and sharing is very much appreciated — thanks for that too!) 🙂

      I absolutely agree that worrying about getting it right the first time is a recipe for getting stuck and writing nothing. As you say, getting your thoughts down is what matters: you can tidy up afterwards.

  5. Mai Bjorklund
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:40:35

    Appreciate you sharing, Ali. One of the hardest parts of being a blogger is regularly feeling that drowning, sinking, ‘I’m in over my head!’ sensation when considering how to tackle daily writing. Thank you for relieving that terrifying sensation by providing baby bites that will help us chew through our daily challenges!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:45:23

      I feel like that not just about writing but about parenting too. 😉 I think with both, it definitely helps to take “baby bites” and to try new tips one at a time. Sometimes, a different approach makes all the difference.

  6. Fouad
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:44:56

    Nice job Ali.

    #10 seems to be written particularly for me. Although I have no ‘one good enemy’, I’ll stop wishing I had that mentor to cheer me along.

    I’m just gonna focus on writing, and improve as I go along.
    Thanks Ali.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:47:06

      Thanks, Fouad! You’re absolutely right to focus on writing and continually improving. It may be that you find someone to act as a mentor to you (or perhaps you’ll come to see bloggers like Jon Morrow and others who you admire as mentor figures — I certainly think the wealth of great material on many writing/blogging related blogs is a form of mentorship!)

  7. Mustafa
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:50:31

    Finally new strategies about boosting blogs, thanks

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:47:54

      Glad to help!

  8. Shelly-Ann Smalling
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:53:34

    Hi Ali,

    This is a timely post as I’m becoming a slacker.

    I’ve been using #5, but then I get frustrated as it’s now taking me twice as long to complete a piece.

    I’m going to give #6 a try .

    It sounds fun!

    Thanks for the great post.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:51:30

      Thanks Shelly-Ann! I think #5 can be a good way to shake things up but probably not something you’d want to do for every post you write — I certainly can’t imagine writing out EVERYTHING by hand, and I have yet to get properly comfortable with dictating. Good luck with #6, and let us know how you get on!

  9. Ray
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:53:36

    Tip No. 5 is very powerful. If you dictate your post instead of writing it, it can be very liberating. I find myself being far more creative when I’m dictating than when I’m writing. I use a microphone and the dictation function on Google Docs.

    And what is even better is that Google Docs understands my Scottish accent!!! 🙂

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:55:37

      I definitely need to do more dictation — I’ve not jumped in enough to get my head round speaking instead of writing.

      I create audio seminars every month, which feels perfectly natural after 3+ years of doing so … I remember how awkward it felt to begin with though. I’m sure if I stuck with dictation, I’d get over the hump and get comfy with it.

      My 3 year old daughter loves Scottish accents (and is picking up a Yorkshire accent, after our recent move from Oxford to Leeds…!)

  10. Camillus Akpan
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:55:32

    Dear Ali, thanks for the tips.
    I must confess that you are a genius to have come up with suggestions that cannot be found elswhere on the web. I truly believe that it works perfectly for you. I know it will work for others also who will care to give a try. As for me, I have my own motivation strategies already and it works perfectly as well. I wish I can share them here someday. Thanks for the tips once again

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:57:47

      *takes a bow*

      😉

      Good on you for coming up with some great strategies that work to motivate you — I think a large part of the battle is knowing ourselves and knowing what’s right for us.

  11. Tom Bentley
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:56:35

    But, but Ali, isn’t writing out of sequence, the non-linear thing—isn’t that AGAINST THE LAW? Won’t the thought police ram down the door the instant I begin (and begin not at the beginning)? Oh, wait, you mean that never was a rule at all, but an assumption? Wow.

    Great stuff here; I’ve used “Open the damn document” to good effect before. Now I’m going to focus on one good enemy. Maybe the guy that first planted brussels sprouts.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:00:32

      Those thought police have a lot to answer for with their made-up laws! 😉

      I am no fan of brussels sprouts either. They’re like stunted cabbages gone horribly wrong.

  12. Virginia Anderson
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:57:39

    I’ve had really good luck promising myself that I only have to write one page. I almost always end up writing a lot more. I also write in longhand often—I find that doing so loosens up my mind. I agree totally with the idea of seeing what happens when you cut the first paragraph especially—so often these are just “finger-limbering” sentences that get in the way of the real point you’re aiming for. Good ideas for jump-starting a writing session. Thanks!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:01:35

      Glad to help! You’re so right about those “finger-limbering” (great phrase) sentences. And of course it’s absolutely fine to warm up into your writing — far better to start off with a ramble than not to start at all! — so long as you later edit those bits out.

  13. Mariken Zuydgeest
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:16:52

    Hey Ali, I loved the topping/tailing advice. Silly that I’d never thought of it before as I do take that advice when I am writing stories. Maybe my own rambling is clearer then? I will adopt it for any of the posts I do from now on.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:02:30

      I probably use that tip even more frequently in my fiction than my blogging too, Mariken. Sometimes, if you’ve planned a post well — and/or if you’ve got a fairly “set” way of starting them off — it just comes out right from word one. But it’s always worth a double-check!

  14. Icy Sedgwick
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:41:15

    I still write a lot of things by hand – my blog posts often start on paper, and my fiction usually starts with a handwritten summary, or an opening line, so at least when I open a document I type out what I’ve written and I’m never starting from a blank page!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:05:13

      Great to see you here, Icy! 🙂 The only thing I *reliably* write by hand these days is my kids’ “baby books” (a sentence-a-day record of what we’ve been up to) but I also do most of my blogging and novelling brainstorming by hand.

      I always copy my plans into my document so I’m not starting with nothing, either. I think a blank page is a bit like a garden full of untrodden snow — you can hardly bear to put a mark on it.

      • Icy Sedgwick
        Apr 21, 2016 @ 16:17:00

        I always love your posts 🙂

        We get the graphics students to do a simple thing; we make them draw a frame on their page. Straight away they can’t ‘ruin’ the page because it’s not blank. It’s amazing the difference it makes!

        (And I’m one of those weird people who can’t see unbroken snow without needing to run around in it!!)

  15. Zarayna
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:42:04

    Hello Ali,
    I’m probably in need of serious medical help. When I read your tip No. 3 – using a candle instead of a mechanical timer – my mind instantly pictured one of those round bombs with a fizzing fuse that offers a visual clue that one has a limited period of time to get a job done. Maybe this also combines with having an enemy for further encouragement.
    Seriously, it is very easy to get stuck, to become boring to oneself. All of your tips are really useful and I thank you. Personally, just getting up and walking away for a while (aka getting over myself) is invaluable for me.
    Thank you and cheers.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:07:49

      Haha! I guess “set off an actual bomb” would be an impressively unusual writing tip … 😉

      Have you come across “Write or Die”? It’s an app that can motivate you to write in various ways — by playing annoying sounds if you stop for too long, or even by deleting your words (yikes).

      • Zarayna
        Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:18:01

        Thank you for replying.
        “Write or Die?” I’m neurotic enough, thank you. I don’t need an app but a nap! That’s more my style (if you can dignify my ramblings with such).
        Wishing you well.

  16. Ayodeji Awosika
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 11:44:35

    Hey Ali,

    These are great. However, I have heard of the tailing and topping technique before from James Altucher.

    You did say to mention if we have seen any of them them before 😉 Great post!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:09:17

      Ah, darn it! You’re just too well-read, clearly! 😉

      James has a ton of great advice in that post. And although he doesn’t actually number his points, I’m pretty sure that the positioning of number 2 at that point in the list is no co-incidence…

  17. Laive Etom
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:07:49

    Wow! Really helpful tips. I’ll try all the tips, especially #4, #8 and #10. Thanks!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:09:58

      Thanks Laive! Good luck with those three — do come back and let us know how you get on. 🙂

  18. Ed from My Dapper Self
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:25:03

    Thanks for the great tips Ali. Just right now after reading the “top and tail” tip I went and checked a new post I was working on. Of course, the technique works. I removed not only 1, but 2 superfluous introduction paragraphs that weren’t really capturing the reader (to be honest, I didn’t remove them, I just moved them further down the post where they made more sense).
    Also loved the “tie your hands” tip. As someone who loves word games I never thought of the possibility of linking my love for such games with my writing! Can’t wait to get started with a new post with my “hands tied”.

    Keep the great stuff coming!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 16:13:58

      Moving paragraphs is a great way to deal with them too — glad it worked for you, Ed, and enjoy those word games!

  19. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 13:51:14

    Great post, Ali — I’m a big fan of #4, and frequently write the middle or end of an article or blog post first. 😉

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 16:15:48

      Thanks Carol! I think it’s often much easier to nail an introduction once you’ve got the rest of the post down.

  20. Tam Francis
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 16:28:14

    Solid advice. I’ve tried most, except the detailed notes thing. I just can’t go there, but I’m really jazzed about the Top and Tail! Woo hoo! Thanks for the great tips. Trying that next!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 22, 2016 @ 01:26:47

      Thanks Tam! Top & tail is so ridiculously easy, but it can make such a difference. Enjoy!

  21. Luis Carlos Eskay
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 16:33:34

    Great piece of advice. Do you happen to have any advice or any other related article that discusses the “how to never run out out of ideas for creating content”.

    I mention this because I have reached the point where I fell like I´m out of ideas for blog titles/headers and their pertaining content.

    Any advice would be most appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Luis

    • Ali Luke
      May 01, 2016 @ 05:40:43

      I certainly know the feeling, Luis! I don’t think I have a specific post like that, but ProBlogger have a monthly ongoing series of blog post prompts that you might find helpful. You can find out about that here: http://www.problogger.net/ideas

  22. Sue Anne Dunlevie
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 16:42:05

    Hi Ali,
    These are great tips. Tip #2 made me chuckle a bit because it’s true. There are times I tell myself to just do something for 5 minutes, but once you’ve started you might as well keep on going. And tip #4 is great as well. I sometimes get stuck on an introduction, and start with the meat of the blog post instead.

    Thanks,
    Sue

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 22, 2016 @ 01:28:29

      For me, writing’s a bit like exercise in that respect — I rarely feel enthused about starting, but as soon as I get going, I enjoy it. (Or, at the very least, I’m glad afterwards to have done it!)

  23. Mel Wicks
    Apr 21, 2016 @ 16:53:47

    Hi Ali,
    I definitely need to take out my first and last paragraphs, so thanks for that tip. But the one I really like is focusing on an enemy. Sometimes, I think that’s me.
    Cheers, Mel

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 22, 2016 @ 01:30:15

      I think we bloggers can sometimes be our own worst enemies — hope you can be kind and supportive to yourself! The first and last paragraphs thing is one of those ridiculously simple tips that can make a surprisingly big difference. 🙂

  24. Bryan Collins
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 05:44:07

    Hi Ali,
    Great post. I liked your idea of switching media and going somewhere different to write. Sometimes a change is a great way of becoming more creative.

  25. Sajib Mannan
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 12:29:51

    Absolutely great post. Love the second tip you gave. Just starting off with a little push is a great way to remove reluctance.

  26. Suzanne
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 13:56:18

    Love the idea of a pillow fort. Wait, you did mention pillows, right? Well, my fort has pillows. Lots of pillows.

    Great out of the box writing tips! I think I shall go open a document. 🙂

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 22, 2016 @ 16:11:44

      I had a bunch of old pillows and cushions in my den. 🙂 Nothing beats scribbling in a notebook whilst lying on your stomach on pillows!

      • Suzanne
        Apr 23, 2016 @ 18:04:31

        I’m more of a nest pillow scribbler. Surround me with soft before, around and behind,, give me a pen and paper (or laptop) and let me be! (Oooh, that sounds like today. 😉 )

        In other news, I shared your, “Open the ******* document” advice with my 21-yo daughter. She was reluctant to begin a task (tidying her room) because she thought it would take too long. Ultimately, she just didn’t want to. (I can relate.)

        I shared your doc wisdom and although she eye-rolled me, she did open the door. Within moments I heard singing and dresser drawers opening. 🙂

  27. Teresa Funke
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 14:45:59

    Very original tips. I’ve been involved in writing and publishing for 25 years and have never seen a couple of these. Think I’ll share. Thanks!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 22, 2016 @ 16:13:06

      Thanks Teresa! I’m so glad that at least a couple of these were new to you — this has to have been one of the tougher lists I’ve put together in my time! 🙂

  28. Daisy
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 16:00:32

    Thanks for sharing, Allie! The last time I went through writer’s block, I did it by writing a 1800 word post on my phone at the supermarket. So I can say from your experience the tips on shaking things up & writing in weird places work! Never heard of the candle though; will try that one out!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 22, 2016 @ 16:15:36

      Wow, that’s impressive! Did you get any funny looks from fellow customers..?

      • Daisy
        Apr 22, 2016 @ 22:12:07

        Not really, probably thought I was just another millenial with my focus on my phone lol. I’ve extended my writing space from the supermarket to the hardware store, the bookstore, basically anywhere I have to wait. It’s been working, so I’m not complaining!

  29. Eli Seekins
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 18:54:00

    Hey Ali! Great post!

    #2 is funny and so true. Often times it can make the difference between getting work done or not.

    I also really like tip #4 and #5. Those help me a lot.

    Sometimes my mind is on a certain path and it’s not always linear but it seems to work out if I just let it do its thing.

    I also get sick of writing on the computer so much and using a notebook instead is very refreshing.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 23, 2016 @ 04:13:24

      Yes, another benefit of the notebook is that it gets your eyes off the screen! Working for hours at a time on the computer isn’t great for any of us.

      I think my mind works a bit like yours! I’m a big fan of linear outlines for helping me get blog posts written efficiently, but I often begin with mindmaps or notes on paper.

  30. Joseph Dabon
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 22:14:28

    Hi! I was smiling while reading this article. Seemed like written by a punk (no malice intended).
    So my comments: I am a scatterbrained and I don’t think I can do #1. I like #2 the best. Nothing will happen with the rest unless you just open that damn document.
    I will keep that in mind when laziness grips me – which it does every so often.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 23, 2016 @ 04:14:06

      I’ll take that as a compliment then. 😉 We all suffer from laziness from time to time (and it is daunting to begin on a new piece of writing — perfectly natural to feel some reluctance).

  31. Kim Willis
    Apr 23, 2016 @ 00:59:24

    Super helpful post, Ali

    Between you and me I was amazed to see that little ol’ me is already using a few of your tips.

    Like most writers and bloggers there are times when I just don’t feel like writing. But write I must, so after mucking around (busywork) for half an hour, I do exactly what you suggest: I open the damn document! A simple action like that invariably gets the creative juices going.

    You also discussed the ‘break familiar patterns’ technique. I couldn’t agree more. It always works for me. I also get a boost from changing locations (which you covered in point in Tip 8). Taking a notepad from my study or dining room to the bedroom works especially well, probably because I am always more relaxed there.

    ‘Throw Linear Writing Out the Window’ is another great tip. I just start with a basic framework for my article then flesh it out randomly. The first draft is always a stream of consciousness kind of thing – it’s ugly, but often some good ideas will flow.

    Regarding your other tips, I have picked one and will give it a try. And the winner is:

    “Top and Tail” Your Writing (Tip #9)

    I chose this one because – for me at least – it’s the easiest strategy to implement. I reckon it will produce an instant improvement in my writing.

    Love it and thanks so much for this excellent post.

    Kim

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 23, 2016 @ 04:16:19

      Thanks Kim! And great to hear you’ve already got plenty of these tips working for you. 🙂

      You’ve reminded me that I need to write in bed more often…!

      I think getting ideas flowing is key: it doesn’t matter how much of a mess the first draft is.

      Good luck with the top & tailing; I think it’s the easiest tip on the list to put into practice. It takes seconds but it can make such a difference!

  32. Gayatri Mantra
    Apr 23, 2016 @ 07:48:53

    This is genius. Thanks for spreading the good word.

  33. Precious K George
    Apr 23, 2016 @ 10:43:30

    Oh Luke! you just nailed it. These tips are really awesome. its so nice of you to have shared. I will put all these to work ASAP. thanks.
    Much love, George

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 25, 2016 @ 05:32:35

      Thanks and good luck!

      (Psst — I have a weird name! “Luke” is my surname — blame my husband for that! — and “Ali” is my first name, short for “Alison”. :-))

  34. Ivan
    Apr 23, 2016 @ 10:55:55

    Great point Ali! I do write content for my blog and share it with the right audience, those peoples who choose to follow me will likely share the content and that’s how i get a nice and converting traffic. Remember, content is a king and the right audience is what’s matter!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 25, 2016 @ 05:34:09

      Absolutely! In fact, feel very free to share this post if you like… 🙂

  35. Kiril Kundurazieff
    Apr 23, 2016 @ 20:21:37

    Go on a 10 to 60 mile bike ride and bring along a notepad, even your camera. Get one of those mini tripods, with flex legs, so you can set the camera up on a flat surface or to your handle bar and get yourself in a pic on 10-20 sec delay.

    Been doing it for years.

  36. Sherman Smith
    Apr 24, 2016 @ 12:31:43

    Hey Ali,

    This was right up my alley.

    I specifically like tips #2 and #4

    When I come home from work, tired, even though I have ideas I really don’t feel like opening up my pages document on my Mac to start writing.

    But I don’t want my ideas to go to waste so I end up writing, and then more ideas spring up which keeps me writing some more. Some days I’ll write a couple of paragraphs, while others I’ll write just a couple of sentences, but either way it goes I’m progressing.

    As far as #4, one thing that helps is just getting the ideas on my document instead worrying about a specific order of writing my future blog post.

    I usually start off with points I want to make and build around it. This keeps me focus and I made sure that the post is cohesive as I write.

    Thanks for sharing Ali! Have a great week ahead!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 25, 2016 @ 05:36:32

      It is so hard to write after work, isn’t it? Good on you for pushing forwards with it! I think your method of starting with key points and building the post around them sounds very sensible, and a great way to get into writing at the end of a long day.

  37. Cari genset
    Apr 25, 2016 @ 09:42:17

    Hi Ali,

    Tips were very helpful, I’ll give it a try, although not easy. 😀

    Thanks for sharing

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 26, 2016 @ 04:59:45

      Thanks, and best of luck! 🙂

  38. Leonie Burmeister
    Apr 25, 2016 @ 14:26:46

    Useful tips thank you Ali

  39. DMIOA
    Apr 26, 2016 @ 09:12:15

    Very Informative! Effective tips for writers to stay motivated

  40. Thiago Moreira
    Apr 26, 2016 @ 10:49:58

    Great post, just skimmed for now and got a few tips. I will study this post later, as a new blogger, smartblogger gave me awesome material so far!

  41. Transport George | Onehalf AU
    Apr 27, 2016 @ 06:46:25

    Speak your blog posts instead of typing them – This works specially if you talk faster than you write. 😀

  42. James
    Apr 27, 2016 @ 10:12:49

    Hey,
    This are some really amazing writing tips, especially no. 2!
    That’s definitely one way to go about writing without stopping in between. However, it takes a disciplined person to do that and I am quite certain, I am not cut out for that. 🙂

    – James P

  43. Emily
    Apr 27, 2016 @ 13:32:23

    These are GREAT! I especially love the lighting a candle idea. Awesome article.

  44. Abhy
    Apr 27, 2016 @ 15:04:47

    Great Post
    thanks for sharing this useful info

  45. Andree-Anne
    Apr 28, 2016 @ 02:51:21

    “Top and Tail” Your Writing makes a lot of sense… I’ll definitely try that one out.
    As for the weirdest place to write, I find bus and train stations to be very inspiring. I’ve noticed that every time I’m waiting for my next train, I always end up writing interesting things and going in different directions. I find the time constraint and being surrounded by constant movement around me very powerful.
    Thanks for the tips!

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 28, 2016 @ 07:11:39

      I’ve never tried writing at a train station, though I’ve written at an airport or two! I’ve sometimes written on trains, but I usually see travel time as a glorious opportunity for guilt-free reading. 🙂

      I’d never even though of the inspirational possibilities of being surrounded by movement and activity but I can see how that could really shift your thinking. Glad it’s worked for you!

  46. Marian Schembari
    Apr 28, 2016 @ 04:47:18

    The advice I hate most? “Read a lot.”

    WTF? These two are not the same and just becuase you read doesn’t mean you can write.

    (That said, reading a lot has helped me understand story structure, but it wasn’t until I starting making a conscious effort to analyze and practice what I was reading that it made a difference.)

    My favorite part of this post was “switching media.” I often get my best ideas when I’m out and about, so thank god for my phone. Some great blog copy has come out of random phone notes. I’m also a huge fan of handwriting. Because I type all day I’ll think I’m spent, but the second I open my journal there’s still so much more gold left in me, it just apparently needed to come out of a pen 😉

    BRILLIANT POST ALI!!! Seriously, one of the best I’ve read on writing tips.

    • Ali Luke
      Apr 28, 2016 @ 07:14:39

      Thanks for the kind words. 😀

      I think “read a lot” is way too generic to be much use (and I hear it trotted out as advice quite a lot, too). I definitely think that reading thoughtfully and critically in the area in which you’re writing (e.g. thriller novels, personal development blog posts, sales letters) is useful, but just reading generally won’t give you the skills you need to write.

      I’d not thought of it before, but I tend to write things by hand at the end of the day too. There’s only so much time I want to spend at a keyboard, especially when I’m trying to wind down for bed!

  47. Natalia
    Apr 28, 2016 @ 06:06:44

    Thank you for this unusual post! Instinctively I have already used tips #2 and 4, and they really work! I should really try some other tricks from you list too.

  48. Happiness Overload
    Apr 30, 2016 @ 07:26:55

    Wow! great post! I hope to use most if not all of your tips.

  49. Obodo Charles
    May 01, 2016 @ 01:43:19

    Hi Ali,
    Sometimes as a writer, the motivation and inspiration to write will simply not be there, after carefully reading through the article, I found some great tips to help me get out of such situations and rekindle the writing flame. The number six point sounds interesting, anyway thanks for the info, it was indeed helpful.

    • Ali Luke
      May 01, 2016 @ 05:48:36

      Glad to help! We all have bad writing days — sometimes you just need a few tricks up your sleeve to get you moving again. 🙂

  50. suraj
    May 01, 2016 @ 23:51:42

    Writing articles take practice and time but the nice thing about it is the more you write, the better you get.I’m struggled for over 3 months to write for my blog after the first post. At last when I started to write on morning, I completed the post in half an hour. but the editing took me a quite a while. Each time I look at it, I want to change it. At last I posted it in my blog. what matters I believe your confidence and conviction to say what you thought right in your own way.

    • Ali Luke
      May 07, 2016 @ 08:36:28

      Editing can take a lot of time, especially when you’re getting into the swing of writing regularly — stick with it! 🙂 I find that the more I plan the post, the less I typically have to edit. Well done publishing the piece! It can be hard to let go.

  51. Thomas Tran
    May 02, 2016 @ 12:04:56

    Great post with a lot of excellent value. For me, I have to be in my “zone” and do whatever it takes for me to feel as comfortable as I need. And of course getting rid of distractions. Only then can I start being productive.

    • Ali Luke
      May 04, 2016 @ 08:02:58

      Thanks Thomas! I think getting into the “zone” makes such a difference.

  52. Sara Korn
    May 03, 2016 @ 22:38:18

    Great tips Ali, thanks! I can’t wait to try these.

  53. Instant Essay Writing
    May 04, 2016 @ 03:45:42

    I am working as a professional academic writer and always appreciate it when some rational tips come along the way. The ‘Fire’ trick at first sounded a little odd, but when I tried it, voila! Never thought such a bizarre technique could be so effective. Thanks for sharing these unconventional ideas, they really work.

  54. Kim
    May 13, 2016 @ 01:29:22

    Great tips. The writing log was an interesting one. I’m going to try that and see what I learn. As far as the writing in weird places, I once drafted a blog entry on my iPhone on the beach of Anchor Point, Alaska, while surrounded by bald eagles.

  55. Brad
    May 21, 2016 @ 14:44:17

    Ali, this post is AMAZING! There’s so much useful information packed into one post – it’s unbelievable. My favorite tip is #4!

  56. Fawad
    May 26, 2016 @ 14:04:04

    Hi Ali Luke,
    It’s really a good read, Love your quote “Focus on one good enemy” it’s really worth to be productive. Thanks for such a great sharing. (y)

  57. Deeapk Kumar
    May 26, 2016 @ 17:16:01

    Its amazing post . This is lovely and helpful. I will try to tailor it to my subculture genre blog. It’s a bit trickier, like All Top doesn’t even have a category for my genre, but there are lots of other blogs with authority and exciting content I would like to tap into. Thank you for these wonderful ideas and step by step plans. It’s just about foolproof if you put the work into it

  58. Bruce Edward Litton
    Jun 03, 2016 @ 20:04:59

    Wow, I’m 101. Am I back at school? Weirdest place I’ve written–a lot of them, but how about the Guardhouse, working security. Or on the road as a Courier, on the elbow rest of the company vehicle. In my boat as a commercial shell fisherman. You’re absolutely right about other places provoking other thoughts. Just like philosopher Colin Wilson and his “other places, other times.”

  59. DNN
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 07:17:50

    A good thing about writing is that bloggers can valuable experience along the way while making countless mistakes. If a person doesn’t make mistakes while progressing in their content marketing efforts, how will they grow to a point of being a successful blogger and internet marketer?

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