"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, October 12, 2012

3 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer

by Jillian Terry

Contrary to popular belief, writers aren't born great writers. It takes a hard work ethic and steadfast commitment to hone their crafts, and even when their crafts are honed, they must constantly maintain and polish them. Sure, people may tell you you're a good writer, but you don't want to be good; you want to be great! For those of you who aspire to improve your writing craft, here are three tips to help you become the writer you've always wanted to be.

1. Read everything you can get your hands on. - If you want to be a great writer, you're going to need to be a great reader, and the only way to do that is to read everything you can get your hands on: magazines, books, blogs, newspapers, and so forth. As you read these materials, jot down anything that catches your eye, such as catchy phrases, interesting storylines, unconventional structure, unique character development, beautiful language, etc. If you don't challenge yourself by reading, you'll start running into writer's block and creativity plateaus over and over again. Reading allows you to analyze other works, fires up your imagination, gives you access to outside opinions, and helps you identify what types of works have already been written.

2. Find your writing niche. - When I first became a professional writer, I had no idea what I should write about; over time, however, I discovered what my niche was. For most writers, identifying a niche is necessary. Establishing yourself as an expert in a subject will make you more credible and attractive to
both publishers and readers. If you haven't already found a niche, it's time to do so. How, you might ask? Well, think about where your expertise or interest lies: Do you have a college degree in a particular field; is there a subject or topic that you know well; is there a hobby that you absolutely love? If you're uncertain, take some time to figure out what it is you would like to write about, such as food, fashion, art, music, politics, exercise, or any number of other things. Identify a niche for yourself, and you'll already be on your way to becoming a better writer.

3. Embrace a writing routine. - Writing is like exercising: If you stop doing it for a month, you're going to be rusty when you jump back into it. With that in mind, I recommend writing at least five days a week, even if it’s only a few hundred words. You don't necessarily have to be writing professionally either. Anything from blogging, freelancing, journaling, or jotting down notes will do. By sticking to a regime, you’ll grow stronger and stronger in your writing abilities. Start out by sticking to a word count goal, such as 800 words a day. That might seem like a lot at first, but it's best to push yourself because over time you'll start producing more and more. Take your time to slowly build towards you word target, but if you start sticking to the same word count for too long, step it up a notch. As long as you stick to your writing exercises, you'll keep your technique in shape.

Writers are artists, and just like painters, sculptors, filmmakers, and musicians, writers need to work on their skills from time to time. If you're looking to improve your writing skills, try utilizing these three helpful tips.

Jillian Terry is a retired teacher and freelance writer who likes to help students improve their reading and writing skills. Jillian also actively contributes to a blog on www.teachingdegree.org. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to Jillian.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tips, Jillian. Also bookmarking your site for future reference. And thanks, Sylvia, for posting. :)

Konstanz Silverbow said...

Darn, I thought I was born a great writer. . . Okay just kidding. I know I was definitely NOT born even just a good writer.

Thanks for the awesome tips!

Konstanz Silverbow

Botanist said...

I certainly find it easier to keep going once I'm into a routine. I would be cautious about the word count goal, though, and make sure whatever you start off with is achievable for you. Everyone has a different pace - and different availability of time! If you start off aiming too high "because so-and-so said so" there is a serious danger of demotivation. Find your level, reach it, and then stretch.

Nicole said...

Good tips! Thanks for sharing.

Sabrina A. Fish said...

I hadn't considered that making writing a routine, just like going to the gym, will help you be more successful. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.