General Tips to Becoming a Better Writer
Most writers whether novice or professional, want to get better at their craft; after all, remaining stagnant doesn’t have much appeal, nor will it earn praise (or profits for those who publish.)
There are a number of strategies you can employ if you’re serious about improving your writing acumen, including the seven listed below. Though each method takes time to bear fruit, the diligent, determined writer will eventually see significant results, enabling him or her to write with more clarity, speed, and confidence.
Tip #1: Read OftenMost prolific authors are also prolific readers. Whether your preference is your best buddy’s blog or lengthy tomes penned by obscure novelists, make sure you indulge your intellect with a journey through the literary world on a regular basis. Best of all, it doesn’t matter if what you’re reading wouldn’t classify as particularly sophisticated or “acclaimed”. Even the most simplistic poem has the potential to inspire.
Tip #2: Learn to Take Criticism with PoiseOnce you allow someone else – even if it’s just one person – to view your writing, you’ll be opening yourself up to critiques. If you are striving to become better, you’ll have to brace yourself for some uncomfortable opinions at times. This isn’t to say that you must accept every comment you hear (or read); you certainly can (and sometimes should) defend your creative work. Still, never forget that it’s the wise writer who can listen coolly first and react judiciously later.
Tip #3: “Strain” Your FeedbackAfter you’ve become skilled at gracefully accepting criticism, you have to understand how to filter feedback properly. Learn to distinguish between objective and subjective commentary, such as:
“Your sentence structure needs some refining.” (objective)
“This reminds me of a dull poem I read in grammar school.” (subjective.)
Treat the unbiased notations with some regard, as they can help you technically improve your writing; but treat the one-sided remarks lightly and try not to allow them to spoil your enthusiasm.
Tip #4: Find a Style You LikeJust as a doctor cannot hope to perform every kind of surgery with the same degree of expertise, you must not expect yourself to be able to write in any genre with ease. This isn’t to suggest that you shouldn’t explore new types of creative writings; in all truth, you should allow yourself to try anything you’d like. However, even the greatest writers focused most of their energies in a limited number of styles. By pinpointing your “specialty area”, you’ll be able to spend the bulk of your writing time getting better at your chosen genre.
Tip #5: Write RegularlyIf you only write once a month, it’s going to take quite a while to become more proficient. Just as you must exercise physically on a consistent basis to build muscle tone and endurance, you must write frequently to improve your communication abilities. Even if you can only devote 5-10 minutes every other morning or evening on the act of writing (such as keeping a diary/journal or penning one noteworthy item you want to recall), it’s better than writing once a season.
Tip #6: Don’t Fear FailureHow many times have you heard someone say, “I could write a book about…”? They sound so serious… until you ask them why they don’t do it. Then, after umming and ahhing, they provide you with a plethora of reasons, including that they don’t have time, they wouldn’t know where to start, or they don’t think the world’s ready to hear the tale.
What those would-be-writers actually mean is, “I don’t want to start something and then fail at it.” The next time you try to talk yourself out of writing the story that’s buried in your soul, remember that life is pretty short… so you might as well take a few chances.