Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

So you want to be a writer…

Becoming a writer - Write to the Point CommunicationsSo you want to be a writer but not sure how to begin?

Rest assured, you’re not alone!

Writing can seem like some mysterious craft that only a select few can do. But really, writing is one of the easiest (yet hardest) things you’ll ever do.

Easy, because all you need to do is begin writing.

Hard, because beginning (and continuing) takes creativity, courage and lots of discipline. And even then, you often question whether what you have written is worth reading.

But before you settle for a career as a writer, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself.

 

Why do you want to write?

What is it about writing that thrills you? Does it thrill you or only interest you? Have you always liked writing or is it something you’ve only just begun to enjoy? If you could write anything in the world what would it be? What do you hope to get out of writing?

 

Do you want to earn a living from writing?

Writing for pleasure and writing for a living are two very different things. Firstly, writing for pleasure means just that — for your own pleasure. There is a kind of luxury in being able to write what you like when you like, and to indulge in your creative side.

Writing for a living means writing for other people. Very often, it means writing to a brief — which means producing a piece of writing for a specific purpose and specific audience. It may involve writing content that you find boring or hard to understand. It may mean interviewing people to hone your story. It may involve copious amounts of research. In short, it can be very hard work, but also very satisfying in producing something that someone else values.

 

What do you want to write?

When the word ‘writer’ comes up, most people think of a novelist. And while writers do write novels, there are many different styles of writing, all of which are valuable and fulfilling. For example:

  • Fiction: Even the world of fiction has many genres and sub-genres (i.e. fantasy, science-fiction, drama, romance, children’s fiction, young adult fiction)
  • Poetry
  • Plays and scripts
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Journalism
  • Copywriting
  • SEO writing
  • Medical writers
  • Health writers
  • Education and training writers
  • Tender and Bid writers
  • Legal writers
  • Academic and research writers

The list could go on and on….

If you have some idea on what you’d like to write, then you’re halfway there.

If you have aspirations to write a novel, fantastic. But remember, many successful authors earned their keep by writing in some of the fields listed above, while they were writing their masterpiece.

 

Do you have a niche?

What do you like to write? What interests you? What are you good at writing? Have you had experience in writing for a specific industry or field? What are your natural talents? Can you combine those with your love of writing? Developing a niche market for your writing, instead of spreading yourself too thin trying to write everything, can lead to a very lucrative and successful career.

 

Do you need new skills?

Finally, you need to ask yourself if you need new skills? Perhaps you want to become proficient at SEO writing, but need some training in the concepts surrounding SEO. Maybe you dream of being a health writer, but need to learn how to research and reference academic research. Writers should always be honing their skills. Sometimes it’s just putting your bum on the seat and writing, but other times, you need to acquire new skills to keep your career moving forward.

If you want to be a writer, then go for it. It’s wonderful, it’s scary, it’s boring (sometimes), it’s difficult, it’s inspiring, it’s exciting, it’s rewarding and it’s courageous.

The best way to begin is simple — just begin.

If you’d like to work with a writer who has superb skills in health and medical writing, shoot me an email. I’d love to have a chat.

Cheers

Nerissa

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A simple explanation of hyphens and dashes

A simple explanation of hyphens and dashes

Hyphens and dashes often look the same, but while they might masquerade as interchangeable symbols, they actually serve totally different purposes.

If knowing the difference between hyphens and dashes was hard enough, did you know there are two types of dashes?

Confused? Then read on.

 

Hyphens

Hyphens are most commonly used to connect two or more words or numbers into a single entity.

They can be used to join compound words…

eye-opener

up-to-date

 or to join numbers…

forty-four.

 They can also be used with prefixes when a word may be ambiguous

re-sign (as opposed to resign).

Sometimes word processing programs will automatically hyphenate a long or compound word, if it can’t fit onto the page, however this setting can usually be turned off. You will most commonly see long words hyphenated in printed material (i.e. books and magazines) where space for print is limited and the published needs to utilise every available inch of white space.

 

Dashes

Dashes are different and shouldn’t be used interchangeably with the humble hyphen. There are two types of dashes:

The ‘en’-dash (n-dash)

The ‘em’-dash (m-dash).

 

En-dash

The en-dash is twice the length of a hyphen and was originally the width of the capital letter ‘N’.  (It can be made in Word by holding down CTRL and the subtract key).

The en-dash is a nice little fellow, who likes to unite things together on the page. It is most commonly used to indicate spans of numbers, times and distances. For example:

Pages 57–83

9am–11am

Melbourne–Sydney.

 

The en-dash can also link prefixes to words.

non–English speaking background

post–workout.

 

Em-dash

The em-dash looks similar to the en-dash, except it is three times the length of a hyphen. Originally, it was the width of a capital “M.” (It can be made in Word by holding down CTRL-ALT and the subtract key).

The em-dash performs a totally different function to its brother, en-dash. Where the en-dash unites, the em-dash separates, and is used to separate parts of a sentence, particularly if there is a sudden change in direction of thought, or when emphasis is required. For example:

I drove all the way into the city — you know how much I hate that — only to find out my appointment was for next week!

Em-dashes are often used instead of parentheses (brackets). However, in more formal writing, it is preferable to use parentheses over the em-dash.

Because em-dashes are used for emphasising a particular idea or phrase, you should take care not to overuse them in your writing.

As to whether there should be a space between the words and an em-dash, it’s pretty much up to you. Some style guides say to omit a space and others say to put one in. Just make sure you follow the advice outlined in the style guide you use, and are consistent with how you use it.

 

QUICK TIP:

If you find it difficult to remember the difference between an en-dash and em-dash the following tip may help.

The en-dash being the shorter one, brings things together, while the longer em-dash tends to lengthen the distance between, or separate the elements.

 

If you want help sorting out hyphens from dashes, or want someone to do all the writing for you, please contact us. We’d love to help. 

 

Cheers

Nerissa

 

 

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