3 Practical Requirements for Effective Writing


For many people, writing seems like a romantic, heady pastime, and even more romantic and artistic job description. To be a writer means to sit around Southern European cafes all day, sipping espresso, and noting down flashes of poetic inspiration in a leather-bound journal, before hitting the typewriter to produce the next literary epic.

In reality, very few authors live or work in anything approximating that fashion, and the huge number of non-authors who make their living by writing scarcely even exist in the same universe as the romantic-artist trope.

Whether you are writing razor-sharp corporate sales pages or are, in fact, crafting your first novel, however, there are practical requirements for effective writing that span this apparent chasm. Those practical requirements are, in and of themselves, quite “un-romantic”, but they are also indispensable.

Here are some things you need if you want to make it as a writer.

A dedicated office space, preferably as distraction-free as possible

Stephen King, in his autobiography-slash-writing-guide “On Writing”, advises that all authors should “close the door” when at work, in both a metaphorical and a literal sense.

That is, he advises that every writer should isolate themselves from the outside world when working, remove all distractions from their environment (especially things like TV and video games), and refuse to let anyone else see or know about their work until it’s reached an appropriately late stage in the production process.

Whether you’re writing copy for business clients, or fiction, for yourself, having a dedicated office space where you can effectively eliminate distractions is a powerful way of enhancing your focus and productivity while preventing excessive self-censoring and second-guessing in the early stages.

Make that office comfortable. If your chair is broken, look into caster wheel replacement and extra padding. If your light flickers, get a new bulb. Set things up so that zoning your awareness into your work is effortless.

The ability to grind on even when you have no “inspiration”

Jack London famously quipped that “you can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”, and many other world-renowned authors have said things to the effect is “forget about the muse, just work.”

Any business writer knows, likewise, that it’s not always poetic inspiration that gets the words on the page — sometimes it’s just pure grinding away at the keyboard, whether you feel like it or not.

The trick is that inspiration often comes through work, not by sitting around. But either way, you need to be able to grind and meet your deadlines, “inspiration” or no.

Tools that facilitate a clear overview of your work and support your process

A good suite of writing tools should help you to gain a deeper sense of clarity on your work, and prevent you from being overly distracted by logistical issues.

Writing a full book on Microsoft Word is a notoriously painful and confusing experience, for example. Which is why so many authors and other writers use Scrivener for first drafts — a word processing program with a far more comfortable and strategic layout that allows you to overview an entire project at once, without constant scrolling.

Likewise, Grammarly can help you to spot spelling errors that had previously eluded you.

Identify for yourself which tools work best for you, and then employ them to support your process.