Posts Tagged ‘self-improvement’

Your Writing Talent Is An Asset

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the famous book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, talks about the importance of building more assets than liabilities if one wants to be successful in business and life. In business terms, assets are simply items that bring in or increase income and thus have a positive impact on wealth. The synonyms for the word ‘asset’ give us a broader understanding as they include benefit, advantage, plus, positive feature, quality, skill and talent. Does that sound like your writing skill?

When I was younger, about eight or nine years old, my older sisters asked me what I would like to be when I grew up. My instinctive and completely sincere answer was, “a writer!” At that age I already knew about a few writers like Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie (my all-time favorite fiction writer) and I definitely admired them. I was totally in awe of the art of writing, and I still am.

Writing is a golden-edged gift that brings pleasure to both owner and audience. Most writers enjoy their work as much as the world loves to read their writing. It is also a tool of communication that has been effective over many centuries and will continue to be, regardless of how much the medium used changes. More than that, however, I see the writing skill as an asset that should be guarded well, developed continuously, used for the good of society and converted into income if need be.

There are so many ways in which writing can be used to increase your personal wealth. I will not go into the details of how to make money from your writing skill here – many other blogs do that. I just want you to place a lot more value on your talent than you have done before and see it in new light.

What does one do with an asset?

Increase it: The more you have of an asset, the better for your personal wealth. How do you increase your talent? By ‘taking it to a higher level’ such that it produces more for you. Mensa Otabil, in Buy The Future: Learning To Negotiate For A Better Future Than Your Present (Pneuma Life Publishing, Inc., 2002), refers to a process of “roasting” that transforms one’s gift into something of higher value. For writing, this simply means improving your skill in a particular field or gaining competence in other fields of writing. You could go for some training, for example, or venture into a new field of writing you have not done before.

Make it produce for you and others: An asset that cannot produce anything ceases to have value for its owner. If you have not been using your skill to produce income, maybe it’s time you began to think about it seriously. However, if income is not among your goals then you could still use your skill to help others achieve their own goals even if they are not paying you. Volunteer your help on major writing projects at work or in your community. You never know, your reward may come in a different way other than finances.

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The Reading Writer (II)

Previously, I wrote about the various ways in which reading helps the writer (see “Reading Writer” under the category Improve Your Writing Skills) and looked at four benefits or advantages. This time I would like to focus on how to make the reading habit a permanent part of your lifestyle as a writer.

You see, it’s very easy to keep telling writers that they must read often in order to become better at their craft but this can be a tricky thing for some. Many writers are faced with deadlines to write copy or pressure to produce a certain number of articles that sometimes it’s hard to slot in reading of books, journals, magazines or other writers’ articles. This is especially so for the large number of writers who do it for a living as their main source of income. Besides, reading doesn’t come easily for everyone and so it takes real effort and commitment to inculcate it as a daily or even weekly activity, for example.

I, myself, have made it a goal to read at least one book every month, not necessarily in my field. However, it is a goal that I have to keep reminding myself to fulfill and sometimes it gets tricky when I do not have extra money to buy a new book. Borrowing is an option, of course, but that usually means I am limited to what is available with friends as opposed to what I feel I need to read (in any case, I prefer to own books, not borrow them). Your own case is probably different from mine but whatever your struggle is with getting to read regularly, I would like to offer you some suggestions that can help.

Here are five:

1. Cultivate a love for books
You may be asking, “How do I cultivate a love for books?” Well, the same way you would do it for a person. What are the factors that commonly lead to falling in love? One of them is spending a lot of time with that person, listening to them and enjoying their company. Spend time with the few books that you have, if you do, or buy one or two to start with. Read a chapter in the morning and another in the evening. Go to the library once a week and browse or search for something interesting to borrow. Attend the annual book fair (if it hasn’t happened yet) and visit every stand, talking to authors and publishers alike.

In simple language, go out of your way to acquaint yourself with the world of books. This is something you have to do consistently and consciously as there is no magic for it.

2. Set a reading goal
…and please stick to it, no matter what!
You could copy me and start with reading one book per month, or set a goal that fits in with your own schedule. Just make sure you are not over- ambitious (five books a month may be a bit too much) nor should you aim too low. By the way, it doesn’t have to be books only – feel free to pursue other reading materials like magazines. The key is to have a focus (the goal) and be consistent over time. Goals have a way of making us more focused and purposeful in what we are doing, both of which are essential for getting desired results.

 

3. Join a book club
There are plenty of online and offline book clubs where you could get to further nurture this new pursuit. You will find people to exchange notes with, discuss difficulties, discover new books to read and generally become more exposed to the world of reading. Some book clubs even have their own libraries from which members can borrow books that they may not be able to afford to buy.

 

4. Spend time with people who love to read
Enthusiasm is one thing that tends to rub off very easily! The more you hang around book lovers, who are enthusiastic about what they do, the more likely you will become like them, little by little.

I know this is related to point 3 above but it doesn’t have to be a formal club; it could be just a single friend who enjoys reading as a pastime and you could agree to be reading together once in a while. Sometimes it helps just to have near you someone who does the same things you do for motivation purposes.

 

5. Build a private library


This is something I plan to do in the long-term, not just for me but also for my children in future. You can do the same too, little by little, with the literature you buy regularly. The advantage is that you have a 24/7 domestic resource center with a variety of literature to suit various needs, e.g. journals for research, novels for leisure, etc. Make sure the room for the library is well-designed with comfortable chairs and cushions as well as a reading desk and proper lighting. This goes towards providing an incentive to be there for long periods of time.

 

Well, these are action points that you can implement easily and become a Reading Writer. Let me know how it works for you or if you think of something else that can help.

Sincerely,

Edna.

Developing your writing skills: self-improvement for writers.

How many of us take time out of our busy writing schedules to focus specifically on improving our ability to write?

I called a friend of mine recently (we share the same writing passion) to pass on some vital information and after the usual chit-chat I asked him what he was doing at that particular time. It was a Saturday morning. He told me that he had allocated that whole day for reading; reading articles, eBooks and stuff he had gotten from the internet to help sharpen his writing skills. I thought to myself, what a lovely idea, devoting a whole day to an activity that doesn’t involve writing but contributes to your writing career!

 

Do writers have to spend all their waking hours scribbling or typing away till their fingers ache? I don’t think so. I believe there is a place for investing in self-improvement to become even more productive. Take some time off your routine writing and think about activities you can engage in to make you a better writer. I know this may not be easy, especially for writers on contract or when you have a number of clients waiting but remember that your future as a writer depends on what you do today. The sum of activities and decisions made in your present are a good indication of future outcomes. Try to invest in your tomorrow today.

You may be asking, so what can I do to improve my writing skills?

For starters, ask yourself where you want to be in the next 2 – 5 years. What kind of a writer do you want to be? Are you likely to change what you are doing now, e.g. from writing articles for sale to writing your own books and publishing? The goals you have set for your writing career will determine what you need to do. However, there are those basic things that every writer must engage in to develop themselves further regardless of their particular interests. My favorite one is reading (I wrote an earlier post on this entitled The Reading Writer. You can find it in the archives). Another one is mentorship or being mentored.

Let’s talk about these items next time. For now, keep mulling over what you need to do to develop yourself as a writer.

All the best,

Edna.