Throughout my writing journey, which started eleven years ago, I have learned a lot about writing. And I want to share with you what has made me a better writer.
Here are my Ten Tips on How to be a Better Writer:
1. Be open to criticism.
Criticism, when given in the writing industry, is often given to help you, not criticize you. If an editor or agent scribbles a note on your query letter or in the margins of your story, pay attention to what it says because the fact that they took the time to actually jot it down for you is a big deal. Not many will do that, especially on a story they don’t want. And if you passed your story onto a trusted friend to read, listen to what they have to say even if it ruffles your feathers. After you cool down, you might realize that what they said was true and very helpful.
2. Never be afraid to rewrite.
We may hate it, but rewriting is how we expand and perfect our writing skills. If something doesn’t feel right about a certain scene you were writing, take a step back, picture the scene in your head, and make notes. Then rewrite that scene from the beginning using your notes and the trapped imagine in your mind. I bet it will come out better!
3. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you, especially yourself!
I am my own worst biggest critic when it comes to my writing. I read books by other authors and sometimes slam it shut on the first page and say, “Jeez! I don’t write like that!” Then I get all full of anguish and start to doubt myself and my writing ability. But I am a talented writer. When I go back and reread what I have written, I often am amazed that I had written it . . . You have to remember that you won’t sound like other authors because you are unique and what you write is amazing in its own right. When it is someone else who is discouraging you, brush them off because you don’t need them anyway!
4. Write every day! Or at least try to write every day.
Pick a time of day that is best for you to write, and tell yourself, “This is my writing time! Nothing is going to stop me from writing!” Make it a rule that you are off limits during your writing time. No kids, husbands, pets, phone calls, tweets, or status updates will interrupt you! Once you get into that mind frame you will have a much easier time writing.
I usually write every day, but sometimes I just don’t feel like it, or life gets in the way. The thing with writers is that we don’t really get a break from our job. Workers can clock out at 5:00pm and go home, but writers are always on the job.
“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” –Eugene Ionesco
5. Read, read, and read some more. Definitely read outside of your genre.
Aside from writing, reading is the best way for a writer to grow and learn. Read books by authors you love. Even pick up a book from an author you say you don’t like, because their books are now movies and you’ve decided to boycott them. You may be surprised, or you may read the first page and see you were right to not like them after all. Definitely read books in your genre, but most importantly read books outside your genre. You can learn so much about writing by reading different types of books.
|Two of my book shelves. :)|
6. Avoid clichés and passive voice.
If an editor or agent sees either of these things in your story, they will most likely pass on it if there is too much to fix. Save yourself time and rejection by cutting out as much as you can now!
7. Keep learning about the craft of writing.
Nothing can make you a better writer than continuing to learn about writing. You can pick up books from libraries like “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott or Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. There are many books written by authors about writing and the writer’s life. Joining a writer’s group or association can also teach you a lot. Obviously, writing classes can also benefit you in honing your skills. Even when you’re published, don’t stop learning about writing!
8. Edit your book 3 times then step back with your hands in the air before you kill it.
Editing is the most frustrating part of writing. You may end up thinking you’re only going to do it once, but once is never enough. You should read your book first with an editor’s eye to catch grammar mistakes, passive voice, and to fix sentences. Then read it a second time as a reader to see what someone else might experience while reading your book. This gives you the chance to fix any discrepancies in the story. If you must, go over it a third time, but no more than that! You have to know when to leave it alone and move on. I did.
|Photo by Chrys Fey|
9. Make sure you understand the rules of grammar or know someone who does.
I may be a talented writer, but I am not so good with grammar. And that is not a crime! All you can do is learn as much about grammar as you can while you are writing, and then find someone who loves grammar to proofread your work when you finish editing it.
10. Write outside of your comfort zone whenever possible.
Writing outside of your comfort zone strengthens your writing and can even reveal skills that you never thought you had. I don’t just writer thrillers or stories laced with the supernatural, and the subject matters in my stories are also vastly different. I have even written in the first person. If you try your hand at many different genres, subjects, and point-of-views, you will a better writer! Guaranteed!
SHARE: Your tips to becoming a better writer.