The Seventh Copy

Writing principles and how to apply them to your writing

Ivan Turgenev, Archive image

Writing is a craft

And like any craft, it needs — well — crafting, molding, bending, stretching, till it reaches the point where it’s “just right”. I wholeheartedly disagree with that writing advice that you should write one article a day in order to get good. It’s a craft; craft your articles, which means, work on them till they feel right and convey exactly what you wanted to say. The amount of time you spend on it is irrelevant.

Writing should be an art form

Not just pointless “How to” articles, or regurgitating Stoic’s philosophy. Yes, the topics of your writing are important, but so is the form, the writing style. By style, I don’t mean those articles that offer advice on how to game the platform in order to get claps, likes, comments: I mean “artistic style”. Your prose has to be compelling, original, unique — you as a writer should have a unique voice. Readers should recognize your writing after reading a couple of sentences.

Not everything that crosses your mind is worth publishing

Our notebooks are full of ideas, drafts, sketches. Most of them never see the light of a day, deservedly so. Determining what’s worth pursuing and what isn’t is an important part of writing.

Writing has to relevant

Socially, first and foremost. Your writing has to resonate with potential readers. If it’s too esoteric, regardless of quality, it won’t be popular.

Writing has to be engaging/relatable

People should want to read your writing. No amount of persuasion and scheming is going to achieve that if the writing isn’t engaging.

Be concrete and direct

Avoid vague over-generalizations, your readers will be thankful.

It has to be clear and concise

Novaways, I doubt that anybody would have the time and energy to read Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past). By the time he finished writing it, it had seven volumes, or twelve books!

It has to have a point

Readers should be able to take something out of your writing. Not in a didactical sense, by rather on a personal level. It has to resonate with them.

Try to be original

Yes, you can make money as a writer by regurgitating popular topics, but, unless you have a unique take on those, what’s the point? How is that fulfilling? Instead, finding and cultivating your unique voice and style is what matters, even if it takes more effort and time.

Express yourself

Recently I read an article here that talks about virality (i.e. how to write a “viral” article). Although it was well written, I couldn't shake the feeling that it emphasized more on how to write an article that’s going to be popular and well-performing on this platform, rather than on expressing your unique standpoints on a given topic. Yes, being successful in what you do is important, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your expressiveness/originality. What would you rather have: a unique article that matches what your feel and what you want to say, or an article that regurgitates a broad topic that’s been covered zillion times? I’d go with a former. That still doesn’t mean that your article shouldn’t be well written.

Don’t run the writing mill

Writing is not factory work, where you have to produce a quota. Yes, having healthy deadlines helps, but only to a point. I’d rather publish one good/well-thought-out story per week (or two weeks), than producing one “meh” story a day. Let it simmer for a while: it will only be better, once you decide to publish it.

  • Don’t publish your essay till it feels ready.
  • Try to write socially relevant, engaging pieces that are concrete, direct, and concise.
  • Be mindful of the message your want to convene with your piece. Everything starts with an idea.
  • Try developing a unique, original voice. It’s easier said than done, and it gets better with experience.
  • Don’t feel obliged to publish frequently. I know this is counterproductive; unless your only goal is to get clicks and reads, of course.
  • Be patient with your writing. It’s all in the details and nuances, and learning the craft.
  • This essay was written mostly from a reader’s perspective (e.g. what I like to read), since I don’t consider myself a writer, in a full sense of that word. But, I’m an avid reader and, as such, have developed a “taste” for literature over the years.

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“The only person you can’t learn from is yourself” — Anonymous