On the whole, we writers are usually pretty confident about the stuff we produce. But every now and then all of us have a wobble about our ability. Can I really write? Is this story good enough to read? Does my novel convey the meaning I want it to?
These are natural questions, but the lack of confidence can do one of two things: it either makes you put your pen down, having convinced yourself that your writing is worthless, or it forces you to find ways to improve your writing and make certain that it’s the best it can be at all times.
In truth, every writer needs to continually hone his or her skills and make sure they are continually performing at the top of their game. Here are five things to do to improve your writing.
- Write regularly
Every kid is taught that practice makes perfect. Whether it’s multiplication tables, a musical instrument, or playing keep-up with a football, the act of regular repetition improves ability.
So if you want to reach the pinnacle of your potential, then you need to make time to write and do so regularly. You might even decide to try a few writing exercises, perhaps for twenty minutes every morning or while you’re eating that lunchtime snack. Here are a couple of other things you could do to build regularity into your writing routine:
- Produce a weekly blog post
- Use a prompt to produce a passage of work (maybe a word, phrase, or picture)
- Work on a particular weakness; perhaps verb use, descriptive prose, character, etc
- Don’t rush things
It’s often been said that there is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting. So remember to take your time when you’re writing that first draft, and then be prepared to take time to edit. Each time you do, you’ll discover more about your ability. You’ll see where your word use could be improved, your sentences enhanced, and spot those regular typos and spelling mistakes (and once you know such things, you make these mistakes less often). Many writers find the following a great way to tackle writing:
- Write a first draft, head to page with not too much thought for quality
- Put it down and walk away, returning an hour or so later (or longer if its suits your personal timetable)
- Edit, and be harsh in your editing
That breathing space and the extra time spent on your work will make all the difference to it. Try it, you’ll see!
- Read more
By reading the novels or works of successful authors in your genre you’ll have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. But don’t stop there. Every now and then you should pick up something different to read, perhaps something out of your comfort zone. By doing so you’ll become more adept at different styles and voices, writing in different points of view, and so on.
And by doing that you’ll learn new techniques and widen your audience, too.
- Join a writers’ group and seek feedback
By interacting with other writers, you’ll begin to discover tips and tricks to improve your writing. You’ll be able to talk over storylines, passages, and what works and what doesn’t. This could be face-to-face. Be brave: don’t be scared to seek criticism of your work. But be careful that the critique is of value.
Of course, you could always seek a wider audience and put your work on the worldwide web; perhaps on your blog or an author community site. WordPress is a great way to create your website and get into blogging. Ask your audience what they like and what you could improve upon.
- Take the time to learn
You might consider doing a writing course – there are plenty of great ones available. Perhaps subscribe to a writing magazine, buy books about writing, or read blogs about writing like the one you’re reading now. Whatever you learn, however you learn it, now is the time to return to step one.
Keep Write On
Whether you’re the most confident of writers or the coyest, there will always be room for improvement. By writing more, taking your time to do so, and then getting feedback and acting upon it, you’ll become comfortable with your pen. And when that happens, you’ll find that your audience adores you.