You may not mind using that word to describe your day. However, for someone to use that word to describe your writing may feel like a fatal stab wound. With the vast sea of “ordinary” content published and posted each day, the last thing you want is for your work to be easily washed away with the rest of it.
How, then, do you avoid the dead-end street of “run of the mill” writing? You can learn how to be a great writer by applying the principles and points outlined below:
Make Your Own Footprints, Pave Your Own Path
It is more difficult to make new footprints in the sand than to step in the footprints of others. How many times have you seen the same topic, angle and approach used in articles, blogs and even social media posts? Run of the mill writers and content creators simply look for the “footprints” that are already there, because it is almost effortless to just follow someone else’s lead.
If you want to learn how to be a great writer, you must find effective and creative ways to pave your own path within your niche. By reaching out for what others don’t, you will experience the rewards that others won’t.
Read, Read and Read Even More
Chances are that this is not the first time you have heard the importance of a regular reading routine to improve the quality of your writing. The late boxing legend Muhammad Ali once said that repetition “leads to belief” and “once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
How many more times will you need to see this tip listed before you take it seriously?
You should also pay close attention to the type of work that you read. You can focus on high-quality writing that appeals to your personal interests and insight. However, you should also focus on the high-quality work that will accommodate your professional needs as well. It may not be as entertaining and enjoyable as your personal preferences, but it will help you to grow as a writer, editor and authoritative expert in your industry.
Open Your Eyes, Search for New Material
Author Robert Greene once said that “it’s all material.” Run of the mill writers take advantage of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to subject matter. Whether it is a topic they have covered before in the past or seems like the perfect topic for a “quick fix”, mediocre writers of ordinary work do not think outside the box when developing new content.
An extraordinary approach to selecting topics and developing new material is to remember that it is all material. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once stated that he is “never not working on material.”
“Every second of my existence, I am thinking, ‘Can I do something with that?’” – Jerry Seinfeld
If you want to know how to be a great writer, you must keep your eyes and mind open when brainstorming ideas for new material. Regardless of your niche or target audience, a little creativity and consistent effort can unlock a world of new ideas and material that separates ordinary content from extraordinary art.
Become a Treasure Hunter of Research
The more you dig, the more treasures you will discover. When thinking about a specific subject or train of thought, research should become your best friend. Treasure hunters rely on their tools to uncover valuable treasures buried deep beyond the surface. Without putting those tools to work, they can only benefit from whatever is left on the surface.
Whenever you spend quality time conducting thorough research, you will uncover angles, ideas and approaches to your selected subject matter that you may never have known existed. Whether you have spent a few decades or a few days writing on any specific topic, there are always more “gems and jewels” waiting to be unearthed by the treasure-hunting researchers willing to put in the effort.
Take No Prisoners During the Rewrite Process
Many ordinary writers strive to rush to the finish line as quickly as possible. Once they reach “the end,” the concept of retracing their steps through editing, proofreading and rewrites may seem unnecessary.
Think about the growing amount of content today with a lot of potential that was essentially rushed on a content conveyor belt instead of being molded and chiseled by a literary artist. Just because your first draft may pass grammar & spelling tests or even plagiarism scans does not mean you should publish it right away or speed through the rewrite process.
Remember the moral of the tortoise vs hare story when it comes to the rewrite and editing process. Run of the mill writers are hares that focus more on finishing content instead of completing it. Those who want to know how to be a great writer take the “slow and steady” tortoise approach despite its painful and tedious nature.
“This is going to hurt. Revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” – Stephen King
Not very many (if any) people would refer to Stephen King as a run-of-the-mill writer, right? If a writer of his caliber feels strongly about rewrites and editing, then why wouldn’t you?
Keep Moving Forward, Learn as You Go
Learning how to be a great writer requires a plan of action – not just acknowledgment. You can spend countless hours reading through blogs, articles, books and manuals that instruct you on writing tips. There is also an abundance of similar resources for learning how to become a great basketball shooter. However, if you never grab the basketball and work on your shot, then what is the point?
Make sure that you complement your knowledge with action and application. Doing so will help you to break through the boundaries of your writing. With skill, strategy and structure added to your content development and marketing, the last word that anyone would use to describe your work is “ordinary.”