10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
― Brian Clark
I recall a conversation I had with an adult when I was a highschooler. I expressed the desire to be a writer and the adult said, “Writing is easy! Anyone can write.”
That’s the thing, though. Writing isn’t easy and like every other occupation, you need to continuously hone your skills or refine your trade. Writing is about constant development. If anyone considers revising the same piece of work a billion times easy or creating an entire world filled with relatable characters easy, then I’d like to see them try it. If you’re like me, you look for ways to make your story better. You want people to hang on every word and to feel for your characters. Sometimes, the smallest improvements are the most needed. Here are six ways to improve your writing:
- Revisit the fundamentals of English. Regardless of what anyone says, readers will notice grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. They will reread the same line a dozen times, wondering if they’re going crazy or if the error itself is a mistake. It probably is but I view punctuation and grammar like traffic signs. They tell the reader when to pause. They dictate the flow of the sentence and like the jingle of a tune, readers do prefer flow. So, it’s always best to revisit the basics from time to time. I do it and you too!
- Abuse your dictionary or thesaurus. Let me be clear: I’m not saying to utilize mile long words or to use words you don’t understand. That being said, I do think you should always consult a dictionary for words you’re unsure of and a thesaurus to find adequate synonyms. The thesaurus has become my greatest asset when it comes to finding alternative words to use. If you pair it with a dictionary, which will most certainly tell you the best way to use a word, you can’t go wrong.
- Don’t complicate it. I am the complication queen. I’ll spend hours hung up on the title for a book or on a specific scene I can’t get right. I pretend the small potholes in the road are giant sinkholes out to get me and it takes time for me to remind myself that while writing isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be this complicated. Rather than getting hung up on the title or the fine details of a scene, I move on. I remind myself that first drafts are shit and they aren’t meant to be as pretty as I want them to be. So when you feel your inner perfectionist coming out to roar, stick a sucker in its mouth and put it in a corner. Focus on another aspect of your project and come back later when you have it figured out.
- Set aside time to write. Find a writing schedule that works for you. For me, MWF works the best and my Booktube kind of follows this pattern. If I’m busy, I drop this down to at least one article per week. This keeps me writing and it gives me a sense that I’m doing something rather than nothing. Set small, attainable writing goals and be lenient on yourself if you need to adjust that goal. You’re only human, after all.
- Read, read, and read. Reading is a fundamental aspect of a writer’s life. Reading adds to the pool of our experiences. It keeps our minds fresh, creative, and active. Books are teachers: they give us examples of how body language conveys emotions, how emotions influence a person’s actions, and how conflict affects more than just one person in any given situation. Books teach you about love, hate, war, happiness, perspective, humanity, desires, and so much more. Open any book of any genre and I guarantee you will learn at least one new thing. The more you read, the better you’ll write.
- Know yourself as a writer. There are writers who try too hard to write like their favorite, successful authors – focused on mimicking the tone and themes of their stories. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this, the writer is robbing themselves of an opportunity to discover and/or develop their own unique voice. It’s safe to say the originality of the stories themselves are what led to these authors being successful and by trying to write like them, you also rob yourself of the chance to write original content. Who you are as a writer – what you love to read, the genre you prefer to write, the style and tone of which you write – is unique to you. It’s what will lead you to write a fantastic, original story that might capture the hearts of readers.
Liked this article? Check out this corresponding piece: 6 Ways To Be A Better Beta Reader.