Been wondering what you can do to improve your writing? Want some ideas, activities that can build a fire?
Help is on the way (sorry, borrowed that from the Democratic National Convention a few years back. Catchy isn’t it?). Take a look below…
- Study what other writers are doing–in your niche and others.
- Don’t just write choppy short sentences. Vary your sentence length. Listen to the music of your words, the rhythm of your sentences and phrases. You’ll be improving your writing right away.
- Read good books on writing, and practice what they preach, do any exercises they include, at least once or twice or thrice. Or invent your own.
- For instance, Getting the Words Right–a classic on that subject, one of the best on editing, revising and re-writing every written.
- Or, on novel-writing: Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook–guarnateed to give you some new ideas.
- Or, get some powerful rhetorical devices under your belt with Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers.
- Or, read a brief chapter a day from James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers.
- For nonfiction, Roy Peter Clark has two excellent books out: Writing Tools, 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer; and Help! for Writers, 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces.
- …It’s a wide-open opportunity…
- Read and re-read well-written books, especially those you like a lot. Which genre? Doesn’t matter. Absorb greatness wherever you find it. Reading best-sellers couldn’t hurt either. When you find one that resonates powerfully with you, study it, dissect it, find out why and how it affects you so potently.
- Work on your sentences. Don’t be satisfied with those come-easily versions that pop into your mind–unless they came to you super-effective as is. Try various things, different wordings, especially when what you just wrote doesn’t seem quite right.
- Make your own greatness as a writer an ongoing quest, a never-ending preoccupation. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t quit. Get more determined. And work at identifying they types of writing activities that catapult your writing skills forward.
- Have a readily-accessible and reliable place to record your insights before they get away from you. Take them seriously. Cross-reference them, index them, bookmark them. Watch them grow–some maybe into a whole new book or essay or post.
- Dare to write some of the wild sentences and phrases that occur to you. Hey, you can always edit them out later–that is, if it’s absolutely necessary.
- Search for, research, find and join the right writer’s group for you. You will be amazed at times what your fellow group-members with tell you about your writing–aspects, both positive and negative, that you might never see looking at your monitor in relative isolation. (Mine is The Writers Huddle, find it here: http://www.writershuddle.com/ Please note: this group is currently closed to new members, but will open again one of these days. If you find yourself interested, add your email address to the waiting list.)
- Be eclectic. Be open to ideas and sources of information all around you, all the time, wherever you go. Again, have a portable and convenient way of recording it all–like a digital voice recorder or the traditional pad and pen. Like that old Candid Camera line, “And remember when you least expect it…” (not there I go again, dating myself). Ideas can occur to you at the strangest moments.
- Be optimistic. If it’s not the Great American Novel today, it could be tomorrow. If your magazine article doesn’t blow the socks off and rattle the teeth of the publication’s’ editor today, you could make it better tomorrow, couldn’t you? If your song doesn’t melt the hearts of those you sing it to, try a different toon. But for goodness sake, don’t give up on it.
- Take advantage of all the blogs on writing and the books and the advice your readers or your editor or coach give you. Try out their suggestions, and when they help you make improvements, remember how and practice more.
In other words, worry less, do more. Try the above strategies. See if they build a fire.
Would you like to comment and add any strategies of your own? Please do!