What 4 Activities can make you a Top-Notch Writer?

What are the essentials for your progress as a writer?

Briefly, they are: Writing, Reading, Studying, and Thinking.

Are you writing enough?

We all know writing helps us improve our writing skills. So this will be brief.

Write a lot, and not just in your chosen niche. Any writing helps move you in the direction of being as good as you want to be.

  • Keep a writing journal that records your insights and writing experiences and anything else you find meaningful.
  • Write an ad for your up-and-coming book.
  • Write recipies.
  • Write anything, including your chosen niche.
  • Using words, recalling the right words, better words, stuggling with syntax–it all moves you forward to some degree.

Are you reading enough?

In the evening, especially after a hard day at it, I like a good TV show. Currently it’s CSI:NY. I think well written dramas can add to our story-telling bag of tricks.

But I don’t want to indulge that too much. It’s like desert after a good nutritious meal. First the meal, then the reward.

There is that all important reading within your niche’s range. Study your competition, find out what’s being read, and how those author’s go about putting together their pieces. Beginnings. Endings. Style. Word-choice–all very important.

There’s reasearch you need to do.

Holly Lisle advises us to read everything. That’s the eclectic approach where you read whatever and add grist for your creative mill, grocery items for your pantry. Fuel for your subconscious mind’s engine.  Anyway, random is fun.

And you studying too?

A craftsman studies his trade, and artist his tools, and even plumbers need to learn skills and essential knowledge. All benefit from exposure to the work of accomplished practicioners. Are you not just reading fiction-writing how to books or copy-writing how-to courses, but studying, and doing the exercises–even if you have to make them up–that can accelerate your growth as a writer? Are you reading that short story or novel and getting caught up in it, and then forgetting to give it some close scrutiny to learn exactly how the author did it?

And finally, are you thinking though it all?

Nutrition involves eating, digesting, AND assimilating your food.

Until you have done all the above AND made it yours by discovering your own insights and confirmations of all the good points you have come across, until it flows out your fingers hitting the keyboard’s keys, until it’s so much a part of you that you find that writing knowledge and wisdom popping up in your finished pieces–is it really yours?

Which of these activities have you found most helpful to your growth as a writer?

4 thoughts on “What 4 Activities can make you a Top-Notch Writer?

  1. Jacki Dilley

    Four great things that aren’t difficult since we love doing them.

    Your line “Any writing helps move you in the direction of being as good as you want to be” speaks to my current phase. I was ready to throw in the towel with this writing business the other day — it seemed that writer’s block would never pass.

    Then I read a post by Joe Bunting in “The Write Practice” about how, even if we’re going to write crap, we need to keep writing. I decided to write some crap for the short story I’m currently working on. It took the pressure off for me, got me into a flow, and gave me new ideas for another scene.

    So hurrah for writing crap!

    1. Mary Ann Barton

      Jacki, I agree that sometimes writing crap is what I need to do in order to keep the creative *and* technical process alive. Recently I volunteered to write a song for a choir I’m involved in. I know I’m a novice at songwriting, so I just wrote something quickly, videotaped myself singing it, and sent it to a few people for comments. Then I kept taking in feedback, rewriting, getting more feedback, discussing what worked and what didn’t work… I’m almost finished, and what I have now is much better than I could have hoped. I plan to keep this experience in mind for my next blog-writing project.

  2. admin Post author

    Thank Jacki,
    Yes. It seems to me that writer’s block is a sort of trick we play on ourselves. It’s not all powerful. Just writing something can often help us escape the self-made prison.


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