One Trick to Writing Better
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How I Started Writing Better
Live Gold Rich is a community for freelancers to grow with. I am always trying out new ideas, reading new books (new book review here), buying courses and experimenting. When I find something awesome I dig in to understand why it works then share it with you. I’ve found something worth sharing.
The last three weeks my writing has gotten better. I feel more confident in my content and my clients have been giving me bigger and better testimonials. You will never believe what it was that made me a better writer!
Why Getting Better At Writing Usually Takes Work
I’ve been writing for a long time. I’ve written multiple books, email sequences, blog posts, music magazine articles, food reviews, corporate workshop booklets and more. I write a lot.
The one thing i’ve learned again and again is to get better at writing you have to write, a lot. The more you write the better you become.
If you are working you are scraping away at the rough edges of your work. Also every project requires you to learn more. So not only am I getting better I am also learning new skills
Is There Another Way To Get Better?
I know you have to work hard to write better. But what if I told you I found a way to get better at writing that is easy to do, fun and you can do anywhere?
This method to get better worked for me so well I didn’t realize it was working until the testimonials started pouring in (hard to believe but true). What if I told you it cost practically nothing to start getting better at writing, and no i’m not selling you a course, webinar or ebook!
What Is It?!
What has been making me write better, enough so that both me and my clients feel confident in my content? Simple. Crossword puzzles.
Let me explain. I was shopping for stocking stuffers six weeks ago. I was in the bookstore and decided to grab a book of crossword puzzles (that’s how you know you are getting old). I never bought one before but recently I started doing the NYT Sunday crossword puzzle with a couple friends after climbing. I liked it.
I bought the book and did a puzzle a day. At first nothing happened. I enjoyed the book. After a week I noticed a marked improvement in two skills.
1)My retention rate for ideas was greater:
When I write I have a pad I keep excess notes on. It keeps me from jumbling up my screen and helps me keep ideas from getting lost. I still lose ideas. Sometimes they come faster and are larger than I can keep track of. After a week of crosswords I quit losing my train of thought. My notes went from one or two short scribbled sentences too long coherent blocks of content.
2)My word choices became concise and richer:
I’m a copywriter. I write B2B, email funnels, landing pages, infographics, etc. When writing I would interrupt my workflow to come up with turn of phrases or dig a word out of the memory to fit a post. After two weeks of crossword puzzles I noticed my mind was able to pick out the right word without breaking stride. I was able to slide my mind left or right while keeping my momentum.
But Crosswords, Seriously?
I wanted to write this post the second I started experiencing these results. I have gotten better at writing because of crosswords. I had trouble explaining the ‘why’ and I didn’t want to post without understanding how it worked.
I read ‘SuperBetter’ by Jane McGonigal (which you would know if you read my Freelancer Resource page).
SuperBetter explained how approaching games as mental stimulation increases your quality of life, work, etc. After I read Jane’s book I knew what I needed to say.
What I need to Say.
Crossword puzzles have made me a better writer because they engage similar but slightly different areas of the brain that relate to language, thinking and writing. Crosswords puzzles don’t require me to write. Crossword puzzles require me to think about writing.
I deduce clues, hold multiple thoughts in my head and make decisions about future word choices.
So that sounds super fancy for a paper pulp book you can buy at a grocery story. Because of this my suggestion comes with some rules.
My Rules to Get Better at Writing By Using Crossword Puzzles
Rule 1:Pick a medium level difficulty puzzle.
Picking easy puzzles won’t engage the part of your brain needed to establish connections between similar but different parts of the mind. Pick a puzzle book that is of medium difficulty. You aren’t focusing on being able to fill in the complete puzzle, you want a challenge.
Rule 2: When flipping to the back for a word reread the clue first.
For crossword enthusiasts clues are hearsay. But if you want to capture the cognitive engagement and connections reread the clue before looking for the word. You may not have figured out the word but at least your mind will understand the direction the puzzle is taking so when you see the word your brain still gets all that good growth juice.
Rule 3: Enjoy the process and stop when you want.
The impact from solving crossword puzzles isn’t unlimited. More so (and this part I don’t have any science on, but the gut feeling is strong) if you aren’t enjoying it I don’t think you’ll reap any benefits. There is a diminishing returns to play. What makes me write better is the fun I have while solving crossword puzzles. Fun transform the challenge of the game into skill building. Changing your mindset from problem to challenge is a key point in SuperBetter (read it already!).
If you are interested in increasing the quality and confidence in your writing pick up and play a challenging crossword puzzle. Pick a crossword puzzle that you can’t breeze through, reread the clues before looking for answers and when your enjoyment dips be sure to stop.
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