My Reflection on James Altucher’s “33 Unusual Tips To Being A Better Writer”
Unusual ways to be a better writer from another writer
This is perhaps the best post I have read about writing: 33 Unusual Tips to Being A Writer by James Altucher. Had it not for a friend’s friend who shared it on Facebook, I would have nothing to read and reflect about days ago. Thanks to my friend’s friends, kudos to Mr. Altucher for writing such a great post and thanks God my eyes are still fine.
Mr. Altucher’s 33 Unusual Tips to Being A Writer reaffirms the belief I have about most writers: That writers are quite a crazy lot but are real people anyway. We writers will always do anything to fine tune our craft and fill our minds with creative juices, lots of them and in different flavors too.
Some writers are surrounded by lots of friends, some are living like hermit monks. Some are polygamous while many stay monogamous. Some are mindful of the world while some don’t know what planet they are living in. No matter the differences, we writers have already went through thousands of papers and inks and billions of words in our lifetime. To keep the momentum, we need to become better.
As said, there are 33 tips in here, but I would like to cast attention on some of them:
#2. Take a huge bowel movement every day. I do not take a huge one, but a long one, and I even take long baths too. Mundane events like bowel movements and laundry times are just some of the best times I have to ponder over a few things, mostly about my money problems.
#4. Don’t ask for permission. Taylor Swift does not need permission from her ex-boyfriends to make songs out of them. Moreover, politicians do not need to ask permission from their constituents if they can steal or not. That’s what politicians are in government for, especially if you live in the Philippines.
#5. Write a lot. Yeah, I write a lot, but I have yet to find something which I am proud enough to proclaim that I wrote it. But years ago at college, I wrote the answers to a question one pageant contestant was given beforehand and he later went on to win the pageant.
#6. Read a lot. Yes, it’s true. According to one prominent journalist in my country, “We have to read because in the end, we are basically alone.” Everything is worth reading, even Playboy and FHM…except for the crap that media attention whore Kim Kardashian and her family posted in social media.
#7. Read before you write. At work, before I write, I need to read Facebook, Wikipedia and Yahoo. Everyday on my way to work, I need to stop at newspaper stands for some free reading.
#8. Coffee. Coffee is a ‘creative juice’. I also need it to stay awake while writing the same things at work and yes, I had my cup of caffeine before I wrote this post.
#10. Be honest. If you are not honest, who would believe what you write about? Peter Elbow in Being A Writer said, “What makes good writing is not what you put in but what you take out.” In other words, practice what you write.
#11. Don’t hurt anyone. I used to be angry and write inflammatory statements on social media, and when I got a taste of my own medicine, I had had enough. I want to attain peace. I want to live longer. Moreover, I’m not someone with the right to declare profound statements. But if you want to teach our politicians, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Justin Beiber and Kris Aquino a lesson, then bash them right.
#17. Relate to people. “To write not for the people is nothing.” This is the slogan or motto of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, a national organization my school paper was affiliated with. I don’t know if I am serving society or relating to people with my writing.
#18. Time heals all wounds. I still have my old song lyrics with me. Sometimes I Have to read my old diaries. Time heals all wounds over my failed aspirations as a rapper-songwriter and my bad grammar.
#22. Use a lot of periods. In web content writing, there is no use for a semi-colon and short sentences are better than large one. The Internet audience get tired easily of reading long text. You need to shorten them to keep their attention span. About commas, I use them anyway yet appropriately.
#23. Write every day. I write everyday at work and at home. I need to because writing is my bread and butter and I don’t want my words to rust.
#24. Write with the same voice you talk in. Write how you talk. Let your written text do your talking. You know I am a quiet one. I say a lot when I write, but still writing is not substitute to actual talking especially if you have bad handwriting.
#27. Have lots of ideas. I have lots of ideas but I have fewer time to update my blog. Sad, isn’t it. But I am always bursting with ideas. That’s what keeps my writing spirit alive.
#28. Sleep eight hours a day. I need to because I am getting old and my body is always looking for more sleep. We need to rest our writing minds too. And yes, we need to turn off our computers.
#29. Don’t write if you’re upset at someone. Don’t do that on your social media or blog. Do it only in your diary/ Only newspaper columnists can do that and Taylor Swift. I had done that before and I have learned my lessons.
Reflecting on the 33 tips, I have come to my thoughts about my life as a failed lyricist and a struggling writer-literati. I don’t know if I could write a book, get published or get accepted in writing fellowships someday. But no matter the outcome of my writing life (or career), I will still have the need to hone my writing craft. I will strive to write. If I feel something is stifling my writing, I will return to read James Altucher’s 33 Unusual Tips to Being A Writer.