My Life As A Warning To A Friend And A Whole Generation

I don’t talk much about my past. I don’t like doing it. You could say I’m a private person. Besides, to me, ideas are far more interesting than I am. That’s why rarely use my stories in my writing. Yeah, I get they’re great literary devices. But there are enough tricks and techniques that I don’t feel the need to put myself on display like that.

Somehow, it feels exhibitionistic or self-indulgent.

Today I’ll make an exception. That’s because other literary devices won’t let me get my message across. After all, who is going to listen to yet another glib this-is-how-you-should-live-your-life post if I’m not personally invested? The internet is filled to the brim with those types of texts and most make about as much difference as digging in a desert.

That won’t do for this article. Here it is important to me I have an impact. Otherwise, I suspect a friend (and those like him) will follow the same path I did. For, as George Santayana’s said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”
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8 Simple Strategies That Will Boost Your Readability Today

To say we can measure readability objectively is going too far. Some aspects are still beyond our man-made formulas – probably because they’re too abstract to track. But we can get close. That’s for two reasons:

  1. Contrary to what most people think, a lot of readability is down to simple things.
  2. We’ve been working on figuring out what those are for quite a while now.

The initial push came back in the 1920s along with the first cross-Atlantic flight and jazz. There were several attempts at formulating readability. The most renowned is the one invented by the psychologist Edward Thorndike.

He proposed that you could measure readability by giving a text’s difficult words a score and adding them together. Not bad. Our modern theories do almost the same, though they take into account other factors. The most famous one is probably the Flesch-Kincaid test, which was thought up in 1975 and is still used today.

Here’s the formula:

Flesch Kincaid readability test

Don’t worry about the details. I have no idea why he chose those weights either. Instead, let’s focus on the big picture. As you can see, it uses words per sentences and syllables per word to analyze a text. Seems too simple to you? I hear you. I thought the same.
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Why Experimenting Will Make You A More Successful Writer

It happens to us all at one time or another. You find a formula and a groove that work well for you and settle into it. For a time it works. You improve, write more engaging texts, boost your readabilty, and get more popular. Then the effect tapers out. You plateau. You know you have to change things up, but you don’t know how.

Your groove has become a rut.

What’s more, you’re afraid. You’ve been doing things in one way for a while now. What if you change things up and your readers don’t like it? Or what if you can’t write in the way you’d like to? Wracked with indecision you keep going the way you are. It’s not so much that you think ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ but more that you don’t actually know what to fix.

I hear you. I understand your pain. I’ve been there myself. (As I said, it happens to us all). Still, you can’t let that fear rule your writing. It’s time to, be more proactive, change it up and start experimenting if you want to be a successful writer. In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why.
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The Judgment Fairy

Picture by Etienne Koch.

This is the Judgment Fairy! Isn’t he pretty? Yes, he does have green hair, but don’t judge. It isn’t some statement of rebellion. He was born that way.

His whole family is a bit different. They’re all in the fairy trade. Like his sister the tooth fairy and his mom, who you might know from the Cinderella stories, he does his job at the edge of sight. But where his sis loves enamel and his mom has a thing for pumpkins, his interest lies elsewhere.

His obsession is those who judge.
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How to Effectively Deal with Writer’s Block

Sorry for the long hiatus since the last article. Almost two weeks! How time flies. It was not – as some of you may now suspect – because of writer’s block. It was quite the opposite, actually. I’ve been churning out so much content for my clients that I didn’t have time to write a post here. Could I have? Probably, but I didn’t become a digital nomad to spend every waking minute working, after all. Like I’ve said before, half the reason I do this is for the better work life balance.

In truth, I don’t believe in writer’s block. I mean, sure, I have the occasional day where I find it harder to write, perhaps because of stress or because of emotional factors. I’ll also occasionally struggle with a story, a concept or writing experiment. Sometimes I might push a particularly daunting story or article back by a few days and write something else instead.
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How to be a Better Blogger and Let Your Thoughts Fly Free

Poorly written texts are cages that imprison your ideas within them. When you express yourself poorly, your reader has to break your thoughts from prison. They have to dig, sweat and work to bend the bars of your sentences and catch the thoughts between the lines.

And unless they’re motivated (e.g. they love you, you’re famous, you’ve got great marketing or they know your ideas are highly original) they won’t get far. They’ll give up and your words will remain locked up.

A well-written post, on the other hand, doesn’t lock in your thoughts. It sets them free. Your words aren’t bars, but wings. Letting your ideas soar skywards and carry your reader to exotic climes.
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Echoes of Laughter: Reflecting on a Vagabond Existence

Is the house on fire? Are we at war? Is there an earthquake? Quick, what do I do first, grab my work laptop or wake my girlfriend? As I chide myself for thinking that (what can I say, protecting one’s words is a writer’s knee-jerk reaction) the nails-on-chalkboard sound comes again.

It shreds the last cobwebs of sleep. With a groan, I slump back onto my pillow.

It’s just the Colombians returning. You’ll always know when that happens. The older sister will always unfailingly remind you how funny she thinks everything is. She greets even the most mundane pronouncement with pearls of laughter.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great attitude during the day. It is a great deal harder to appreciate at 3 o’clock, though, when behind closed eyelids you were having tea with the Mad Hatter.
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How to Launch a Successful Freelance Writing Career

I’m not going to pretend I’m raking it in as a freelance writer. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t do so. I’ve only been doing it full-time for a little over a year. Who knows what the future may hold? More importantly, I have achieved one thing. I’m making enough money for my girlfriend and me to see the world.

In this year we’ve gone from barely scraping together enough to live, to being able to travel across three continents (If you want to know more about that kind of life read my article 8 things you need to know about travelancing). Most months we break even and some we even end up ahead.

The best part? I’ve become a better – and faster – writer because of it. That means that for the most part I only work around four hours a day. So we’ve got plenty of time to see the sights. So I’d say I’ve succeeded at my attempt to launch a successful freelance writing career.

So how did I do it? And, more importantly, how can you?
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Write Engagingly 303: The Secret Sauce

Sure, if you want to engage your audience, it helps if you’ve got the mechanics of writing down. For example, as discussed in Write Engagingly 101, spacing, punctuation and having a strong opinion make your articles more readable. And since ease of reading relates to how engaging text is – you need the former for the latter – that’s important. Similarly, as covered in Write Engagingly 202, storytelling, senses and similes will engage your reader on different levels and draw them in. And let’s not forget about the importance of experimentation.

At the same time, you can use all those strategies and still have a text or story that falls flat on its face. Equally, you could use none of them and have a story draw your audience in like a whirlpool of emotional intent.

That’s because of the element I’d like to talk about in this specific entry of the series. With it, you’re going to be able to connect with and move your reader. Without it, your texts and stories will always remain mediocre and unmemorable.
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Write Engagingly 202: Storytelling, Senses and Similes

I hope you’re ready for the second installment of my write engagingly series. I thought long and hard what I should write about in this one. And though I’m blowing my own horn by saying so, it’s a humdinger!

And yes, you’re absolutely right. In my write engagingly 101 article, I did say you should avoid the exclamation mark. I was just making sure you were paying attention.

A gold star if you picked up on that.

Do note that I wasn’t implying you should never use it. That would be overkill. Instead, I meant that it should set off warning bells (or perhaps exclamation marks) in your head when you do hit that key.
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