18 tips to help you become a kickass writer!

Written by Vu Le

People often ask me for advice on writing. (No one ever asks me for my skincare routine, which is understandable, but hurtful). First of all, you don’t need to make writing your main form of communication if writing is not your thing. There are others, possibly more enjoyable and effective ways for you to get your ideas out into the world. Videos, for example. Or Vietnamese water puppetry. I always say we don’t have enough Vietnamese water puppetry in our sector. 

But if writing is, or might be, your thing, here are some tips that work for me. Keep in mind that I am a highly distractible person, a “chaotic creative,” so take what you find helpful, and ignore the rest:

  1. Understand that writing is a torturous process. Yes, it can be a beautiful pain, like the aches you feel after a long hike in the woods, or when you eat delicious but very spicy food and your whole mouth is on fire. Nonetheless, it is painful. Accept it. Embrace it. Be one with the pain.
  2. Set aside a regular time for you to write: Think of it like going to the gym. You must set the time to do it, and eventually at some point you will enjoy it. Maybe. I have no idea. I’ve never been to a gym except at assemblies during college.
  3. Have a running list on your phone of topics to write about: Make a habit of jotting down in your phone potential topics as you go about your day. When it’s time to write, scroll through the list and realize 95% of your topics are garbage. But that leaves 5%, which is not bad!
  4. Create a ritual to get yourself into the mindset of writing. For me, it involves waiting until the last minute, feeling terrible about myself, going on a walk around the neighborhood, cooking pasta, and occasionally weeping with shame while eating a bowl of fettucine.

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About the author

Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the former Executive Director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.

Vu’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves. There’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world, and someone needs to document it. He is going to do that, with the hope that one day, a TV producer will see how cool and interesting our field is and make a show about nonprofit work, featuring attractive actors attending strategic planning meetings and filing 990 tax forms.

Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at NonprofitAF.com.