10 Tips For Great Writing From An Amateur

10 Tips For Great Writing From An Amateur

Put words on a page and erase them. Do it again.

I've been writing all my life--journaling, short stories, ideas for new books. But it wasn't until college that I started to really have writing become a part of my daily life; I've finished two novels, hundreds of articles, started a blog, and I am also a writer for a few online magazines (The Odyssey, Mogul, The Compass). I've watched my writing styles change and grow in these last two years, I've expanded my ideas to things I would've never wanted to write before, and I've learned how to be a better writer. If you're new to writing, an expert writer, or somewhere in the middle, I've made a list of my top 10 best writing tips from an amateur like me.

1. Just write it

Don't think about it--just go. Don't worry about editing or grammatical errors. Don't worry if something doesn't sound right or if it isn't coming out like you want it to. Write down your exact thoughts, write like you think it, write with your heart.

2. Don't think too hard

When I want my piece to have an extraordinary factor, I try not think too much about it. I let my mind flow from idea to and idea (sometimes not so flow-y) and I just follow it. I find that I learn a lot about myself starting with a general idea and just seeing where my mind takes me. Don't try so hard to make it great--that'll happen naturally.

3. Read it over out loud

If you're anything like me, you can't stand spelling or grammar errors. I read and re-read my pieces over to myself when I am finished and fix all the silly mistakes I made or add in words when I was writing so fast I forgot to type them.

4. Take the smallest idea and crack it open

Sometimes I'll have a clear cut idea of what I want to write about, only to find myself rambling off in a different direction. Thats okay, thats where the best writing comes from for me. It isn't something I plan or make sure that I do, it just happens.

5. Don't stop writing

I think this is a great technique when you have writers block, are stuck on where to go next, or just don't know what to say. Keep typing in sentences, even if they are random, and let your creative juices take over.

6. Don't stop to edit

This only makes me lose my train of thought and then I have to reset all over again. Don't let your mind dwell on the last line, be in the present, you can go back to fix it later.

7. Forget you have an audience

If you are writing for something or someone other than yourself, you're not doing it right. What I mean is that you need to enjoy what you are writing about, putting your whole effort in, feeling passionate about the topic, and not letting an audience scare you away from what you really want to say.

8. Practice your own writing style and hone your skills

I've read thousands of different writing styles since middle school--each unique and their own. I've kind of adapted my own as well, to the ones I like, and although it has definitely changed in the last two years, I feel I have a distinguished voice in writing. Do your own thing and don't be afraid to try something new.

9. Share it

It can be nerve-wracking to share your writing with others and even more so if you let their judgments overpower your own. It doesn't matter if someone thinks you're a good writer or not, if someone has something bad to say about you or not. I've heard terribly, awful things about my writing over the last two years, but its never stopped me from continuing on.

10. Write for yourself

Writing is something that doesn't come naturally for everyone, just like anything else in this world. I think if you follow your own heart and mind, and just let it all go, your writing world is going to become a whole lot bigger. Don't be too hard on yourself, just write. Put words on a page and erase them. Do it again. Write for yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Maddi Burns

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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5 Reasons Teachers Deserve Better Salaries

The national average salary for teachers is $38,000.


Let's not beat around the bush: teachers do way too much and get paid way too little. As a future educator, I have spent a lot of time observing my former teachers, and I can tell you that they do way more than just what students experience in the classroom. Yes, some teachers can be tough graders and yes, teachers receive longer breaks. But, that does not justify the unreasonably low wages they receive. What exactly do teachers do? Well...

1. They literally create ALL other jobs

No job can exist without a teacher giving you the foundation of it. Elementary school teachers are responsible for encouraging students to have hopes and dreams, therefore allowing them to open up their minds to any type of future. Middle school teachers lay down the foundation of each type of subject, teaching students about different fields, and encouraging them to pursue knowledge. High school teachers help students to increase their knowledge in multiple fields and guide them to a course of specialization in high school

2. They are much more than just teachers to students

Especially in high school, teachers are more than just teachers — they are mentors, confidantes, coaches, and friends. Students spend a large chunk of their lives in school, so it's no surprise that they rely on teachers for moral and emotional guidance. Students tend to turn to teachers for life advice, especially in terms of future planning. So why, again, are we paying them so little?

3. Many teachers work two or more jobs to stay afloat

Depending on what area of the country you are in, your teacher might be making just above the poverty line as their salary. This is evidently not enough to support oneself with rent, groceries, and amenities — let alone support a family. Many teachers are also tutors, side business owners, or even bartenders. They work long hours, both in school and out of it, and deserve better rights.

4. When they are not teaching, they are grading, planning, coaching, and more

Before and after school, teachers are often coaches or sponsors for extracurricular activities, which means that they are in the school building for sometimes up to 10 hours a day. On top of that, they grade work, lesson plan, and have to take care of their homes and families. (Especially women, but that's a topic for another day.)

5. They create a home away from home

If you've ever walked into a classroom, you know that it isn't blank. There are motivational posters up, students' work displayed, and other things to make students feel more comfortable. Teachers are creating safe spaces for children whose home lives aren't the best so that they at least have one place they feel welcomed.

So the next time you encounter your teachers, thank them. They did a lot more for you than you may realize, and they truly do care about your success. Give them a handshake, a hug, or (if I'm your teacher in the future) a $5 Starbucks gift card never killed nobody. But, in all seriousness, advocate for your teachers. Although they knew what profession they were choosing, it is always nice to know that someone has your back. After all, they have yours!

If you're interested in learning more, visit http://teachersalaryproject.org/resource-center.

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