Writers, both novice and professional, are often plagued with doubts about their writings. We want to know if what we have written is any good. We want to know if our story makes sense. We want to know if our characters are well rounded. However, there is one lingering question that we are often too shy or ashamed to ask others: How do I become a better writer? At the onset, it feels like we are admitting that we aren’t the best writers. However, what we are really saying is we want to improve it. Here are five steps to improve your writing:
The only way to become a better writer is to write. There are no shortcuts to becoming a better writer. The longer you stay away from writing, the more it becomes difficult to return. Absence makes the writing become rusty. As long as you write nearly everyday, you keep that creative muscle active in your brain.
You should spend as much time reading as you do writing. The two activities go hand-in-hand. I have often met people who said they wanted to be writers but they did not really read much. That is similar to a pianist proclaiming that he/she plays but that he/she does not have much time to listen to music or learn to read music. Reading helps you understand how a story works. Which leads me to my next point…
This may sound like Step #2, but it is a bit different. All of us have a favorite writer or a favorite author whose words we can read and reread for years. However, we must not limit ourselves. To become a better writer, we must be willing to read newspapers, articles, psychology reports, comics, plays, etc. Not only does reading indiscriminately introduce you to new material, it also teaches you different voices and styles of storytelling.
Real writers revise. Once again, there are no shortcuts. The only way to fine-tune a draft is to set it aside then return to revise it. Ernest Hemingway rewrote the ending to “A Farewell to Arms” over thirty times. The more you revise your work, the more you will understand how revision works.
Choose the Positive Path
Although this might seem out of place with regards to the other four, it is not. I am a firm believer in the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you write something and say to yourself the entire time, “This is horrible; this is crappy; this sucks,” your piece might do horrible, crappy, and suck. Instead of leading yourself down the negative path, try the positive path. You will be amazed of how much your writing will improve if you simply wake up everyday, look in the mirror, and tell yourself, “I am a good writer.”