Are you struggling with writer’s block? Does the idea of writing a best-selling novel fill you with thrill until you realise there’s a lot of work to be done? Yeah, we’ve all been there and unfortunately, there’s no easy fix. Writing well takes time and practice. Here are a few tips to help you improve!
#1. Read a lot of books.
Reading widely is incredibly beneficial to developing your creative writing skills. This means reading several genres such as fantasy and poetry and remaining critical about the author’s work. It also helps to read books that aren’t particularly well-written and reflect on what they’re lacking. Focus on sentence structure and the use of figurative language. Pay attention to the plot and pacing too.
#2. Keep a notebook and record your thoughts.
Think of this notebook as a creative journal. Whenever inspiration strikes, record it down immediately otherwise you will most likely forget about it. This doesn’t mean you have to write a poem or 50K novel on every thought that pops into your brain. However, it’s nice to look back on the brief ideas you’ve had. Sometimes, these ideas may come in handy on your current work-in-progress (WIP) and solve the gaping plot-hole you’ve been trying to patch for the past year.
#3. Take a grammar course.
Grammar is SO important to ensure fluid and easy reading. There is nothing worse than reading a sentence like “I have an apple to eat” or “They is married.” Ugh, even writing those two sentences made us cringe.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- The Elements of Style: Pretty much the best textbook you can find on grammar and sentence structure. Many writers swear by it including Stephen King!
- A Khan Academy course that will take you through the basics of grammar.
#4. Write a LOT.
As the age-old adage goes, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better you will get at the craft. It doesn’t matter if every word you write makes you want to throw up due to its cringeworthiness. What’s important is the act of writing. It also helps to dabble in different genres. Try your hand at writing a sonnet or a sci-fi novel!
#5. Find a critique partner and work with them.
Sharing your work with someone is DAUNTING. However, at some point, you just have to suck it up and brace yourself for some constructive criticism. The best way to do this is to find a critique partner! The idea behind CPs is you’ll exchange work regularly and give each other feedback. Often, we’re unable to see the faults in our writing so a CP is invaluable. Finding a critique partner is also helpful to hold yourself accountable. You’ll be forced to churn out writing by the week!
#6. Try outlining.
So, in the writing realm, there are generally two camps of writers: pantsers who write without outlining, and planners who do create an outline. Regardless of which camp you fall into, it’s worth creating an outline of what you want your final product to look like. An outline is especially useful when you’re struggling to think of what to write, you can simply refer to it whenever you’re stuck. It also certainly helps when you have to go back and edit your first draft and forget why something happened or when.
#7. Accept that the first draft will SUCK.
It’s a difficult pill to swallow but is so important to understand. No matter how much you wish it weren’t so, your first draft will be riddled with errors and flaws. This is what makes first drafts so hard to go back and read over when you set them aside for a few months. However, accepting this fact also makes the writing process easier. You will feel freer to make mistakes and write however you like because it’s a safe space. The first draft is for your eyes only. You don’t need to start distributing copies of your work immediately after. (Please don’t do that, you will most almost certainly regret it.) Just write whatever you think is right at that moment.
#8. Use writing prompts to practice.
Writing prompts are the perfect exercise to improve your writing. They are remarkably freeing too because they’re not attached to any ideas you’ve spent hours scrutinising and ruminating about. Instead, you can improv and write the first thing that comes to mind. Prompts also help widen your horizon by encouraging you to write something you may not be familiar or comfortable with.
Some tools to get you started:
- Story A Day: There’s a new writing prompt on this website almost every day–can you think of anything more perfect than that?
- r/WritingPrompts: In addition to new writing prompts, you’ll be able to see how other people have responded to it which is certainly eye-opening.
- Poets & Writers Prompts: There are three prompts every week — fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
There you have it! Which of these tips are you going to implement in your daily practice? Let us know in the comments below!
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