Writing is an act of perpetual improvement; the more you do it, the better you’ll become. But to really master your craft requires effort beyond regular practice. Luckily writers are some of the most generous people around when it comes to offering advice. Maybe a little too generous, though, as the amount of advice available can be overwhelming. To help you cut through the noise, I’ve gathered a few of the best tips on how we can all keep improving…
It’s scary to show your work to other people, but unless you’re writing for yourself and only yourself, you need to know what readers think. Leah Mol suggests that, instead of asking something general (“did you like it/what did you think?”), ask readers to keep track of the places where they got bored, where things didn’t make sense, or whether there was anything they’d like more of. I would also add not to take any negative comments personally.
Cut It Out
“Say you finish a draft of a story and it’s 2,786 words long. Tell yourself it now needs to be 2,500 words long and cannot be a word longer. While the new word count is completely arbitrary, it really forces you to go back through the work and be as choosy as possible, tightening it as much as you can.” –Hollie Adams
“Progress doesn’t always mean more words on the page. Some of my most productive sessions are spent in a frenzy of cutting, chopping, and downsizing, so that I actually end up with less material. Chances are there’s a lot of scaffolding and guff hanging around your first draft which you should get rid of to produce a cleaner, more powerful work.” -Richard Joseph
Live a Little
It can be difficult finding time to write, so it seems counter-intuitive that taking time away from the keyboard is actually good for your writing. While imagination and research have their place, they aren’t a substitute for personal experience (think of the difference in taking a virtual tour versus seeing the same place in person). Staying home is necessary right now, but once it’s safe, get out into the world. See, listen, try, do. Pay attention and take notes. The more you experience for yourself, the better your writing will be.
Don’t Stress Yourself
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. Writing is hard, and made only harder when you feel pressure to comply with rules or follow tips. Write in your mind, if you don’t have the time to write on paper. Plan your stories. Visualize them. Tell them to yourself and others. Stow them away for when you do have the time. And never beat yourself up for not writing, because the negativity will infect your voice.” -Aga Maksimowska
Above all else, remember that writing is hard, so be kind to yourself. Are there any writing tips that have helped you? Share in the comments…
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Want more writing tips? Check out my other posts on the subject:
Aspasía S. Bissas