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my 10 best writing tips (and i’m a $120/hr writing coach)

10 writing tips from a f*ckin’ friendly writing coach

(5 min read.) Here’s the advice I give most often in private sessions as a writing coach. Ten little ideas, some practical and a few theoretical. Wrote ‘em up as neat as I could because sharing is caring. They’re also the ten things I tell myself most often as a writer. Even after going hard for 20+ years as a professional writer with full commitment and almost no shame, I still need these reminders. Maybe you do, too. Hope this five minute read saves you some trial and error.

1. TELL THE TRUTH. Don’t lie on purpose. You might lie by accident or by error, but do your best to tell the truth as you understand it. (More? “Tell the truth.” 1 min read.)

2. DON’T GIVE UP. Keep going until you love what you’ve made. Writing is a process. Sometimes it sucks. Don’t give up halfway. If you keep going, eventually you’ll get closer to writing something you love. Get closer and closer until you’re honestly close enough. (More? “Don’t give up.” 2 min read.)

3. HAVE FUN. Have small fun when you write: bribe yourself with music and snacks. Even better, have big fun: tell a story you’re actually stoked about telling. Don’t bother with the story you think you “should” tell. Write the one that’s FUN.

Does that feel selfish? Here’s the kicker. If you have fun, you’ll write more often. Write more often and you’ll finish projects faster. Through the sheer quantity of the numbers game alone, by having fun you’ll end up making more things that will matter to other people.

4. LAND YOUR PUNCH. Your story, your paragraph, your sentence; everything you write ends with one word. The final word is the one people will notice most. So, make the final word important. Finish strong. Land the punch.

5. DISAPPOINT YOUR ENGLISH TEACHER. Many of us secretly write for the mythical English teacher who sits in the back of our heads with a red pen. The HOLD this has on us, even as adults!

Truly wish I were joking, but that icy old ghost is freezing the hands of more writers than you’d believe. So, look. Seriously. Seriously, seriously, seriously for real: it’s okay to write “wrong.” Even if your grammar gets an F, your words come out in sentence fragments, or you make freshly horrible new writing mistakes nobody has ever made before? Yes. On the page, it’s better to be alive than right. (More? “How to let go of perfectionism.” 3 min read.)

6. JUST SAY THAT. If you’re thinking something important, JUST SAY IT. Put it right on the page. Don’t be coy! Get blunt. Risk being obvious. People don’t mind as much as you might think.

7. MAKE IT EASIER. Not writing? Find a way to make it easier. Working harder is never the answer.

8. GET’ EM TO THE BEST PART. As a writing coach, people usually come to me worried about the weak parts of their writing. That’s what they figure we’ll mostly work on. Then I coach them on making the best parts even better, and they see how the entire project lifts up! Not all of it has to be perfect; just perfect enough to keep your audience with you on the journey, so you can get ’em to the best part.

The highlight of your writing is what will make it matter to strangers. Stay focused on that. Don’t let the rest of it keep you from sharing the best of it. (More? “How to let go of perfectionism (aka a pig who farts)” 3 min read.)

9. WRITE WHAT MATTERS. Look. If you’re going to write anyway, might as well write something that matters to you. Don’t f*ck around. Do it for real. Pursue real meaning. Real connection. Real impact. Aiming for what’s meaningful adds value, motivation, beauty, excitement… and it doesn’t cost extra.

10. USE YOUR WORDS. Don’t try to sound like “a writer.” You ARE a writer. Try to sound like yourself.

(want something practical? try 55 ways to stop procrastination.)

xo, megan

Thanks for giving this a few minutes. I hope it felt supportive.

Writing coach Megan Cohen is a white cis woman with soft femme hair. She wears black but stands in front of a wall covered in brightly colored brainstorming post-it notes. She smiles with closed lips and warm eyes. Her skin is amazing even though she's middle-aged.

I’m a f*ckin’ friendly writing coach.

Let’s see what an hour with me can do for you. Get treated with honesty and respect. Bring your work-in-progress, your goals, or your frustrated blank page. Sliding scale; no ongoing commitment; just an hour to work on your writing. See me in a private zoom to put my 20 years of experience on your side.

curious/confused?: what does a writing coach do (and not do)

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