How Can I Become a Better Writer?
by Shelby Jones
Writing can be a minefield and many would certainly prefer to traverse great fields of potential dynamite than attempt to put their own writing out into the world. Even thinking of the overwhelming number of authors, bloggers, and journalists who appear to have their knack for the medium sorted is petrifying.
But writing doesn’t have to be this scary. Below are six ways you can improve your craft.
What you’re doing now is the first step, so you’re doing well already! But don’t stop here. Begin with what captures your attention: newspapers, biographies, magazines, etc. Move onto established and challenging authors that diversify your imagination. While doing so, make a note of the writing’s tone and which styles you enjoy. For longer texts, notice the word choice and grammar used to make the writing flow.
Did you know that the average person says 7,000 words a day? The spoken and written word are vastly different, but establishing an understanding of authentic dialogue and verbal human interaction will help you greatly. Listen for idioms, accents, and slang — these give us personality and, for memoirs in particular, can really elevate your writing.
#3. Get basic
The nitty gritty of writing is grammar and style. We recommend Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style which is one of your biggest resources for such a tiny book. Also, get hold of a dictionary and thesaurus. These will provide definitions, spellings, and deviations of words you might have used too many times. The right word might not be in your vocabulary yet and can really add flavour to your work. But remember: bizarre and obscure words aren’t always your friend either. Use them sparingly.
#4. Workshops and writing groups
There are lots of people like you with that flare of creativity. Use LinkedIn to browse writing meetups and workshops. Or check out the National Writing Project and the Writers-Online forum and join them one evening with an extract you’ve written. They will guide and support your writing journey.
Now for the actual writing. Sketch an outline of what you want to write. Treat it like a battle plan (writing can evoke such angst) or a roadmap, moving you through the story you want to tell. When you are lost, you can always go back to the map!
Humans make mistakes, but these mistakes can cost you a publishing deal or the dedication of your readers. Intensive proofreading will pick out spelling and grammar errors. Reading your work out loud is a good idea, too! Consider using professional services who will adhere to your wants and writing aspirations. An objective eye will spot issues the human mind is trained to miss.
Writing doesn’t have to be painful or overwhelming. With the right resources, you can express your ideas in a way you and your readers enjoy. When researching your topic, always think of the audience you’re writing for and their response. Also remember that it’s not a competition to show how far down the dictionary rabbit-hole you’ve fallen. It’s all a creative process that takes time.