Becoming a better writer involves constantly learning. Whenever you read a book, you are learning. Whenever you write something, you are learning.
In this post, we are going to discuss a few strategies you can employ to help you improve your writing, bit by bit, every day.
Also, a quick disclaimer. I’m not getting paid to recommend anything in this blog post, and none of the companies I discuss asked me to do so. This is all me.
Take A Course
In the age of the internet, knowledge is everywhere. There are a variety of sites that now offer free courses on pretty much any topic, including writing. Lynda (which is owned by LinkedIn) offers a wide variety of business-related courses, including ones on grammar and writing. You can sign up for one month free, but you might not even need to do that in order to access their courses for free. I live in Calgary, and as such, I can access these courses for free by signing in with my Calgary Public Library Card.
You can also try Coursera, which offers a wide variety of writing courses, including ones on grammar, creative writing, creating characters, research, essay writing, and academic writing.
There are a ton of great platforms out there that can help you learn to be a better writer. Check them out!
I have yet to meet a writer that isn’t also an avid reader. Reading is like easy, practice writing: You get to sit back and review what someone else has done and learn from them. However, this process can be more beneficial to you if you learn to read critically. When you finish a book take a few minutes and jot down what you did and didn’t like about it. Where the characters well developed? Was the plot interesting? Did the world feel real?
Then, ask yourself why you gave the answers you did. What made that plot particularly engaging? What made that character lacklustre?
This will help you focus in on what makes good books good, and help you incorporate what you learn into your own writing. It will also help you better identify what detracts from good writing, and hopefully, avoid making those mistakes.
Talk About Your Work
I know, I know. I hate sharing my WIP with people too. I say “It isn’t done yet! This is just my first draft!” That is okay. Still, try and find someone who you can talk to that can offer you constructive feedback. My boyfriend is great at this. He pokes holes in flimsy plots, helps me keep my characters true to themselves, and helps me make my worlds believable. Since he isn’t a writer he isn’t always able to help me figure out how to fix my problems, but he is really good at identifying when something just isn’t working. He is also an excellent listener and provides thoughtful and useful feedback.
You don’t always need to kill your darlings, but sometimes you need to poke holes in them and admit that they are flawed. This will not only help you become a better writer, but I also feel this process has made me a better person as well.
Try and find someone who you can help you with your writing. If you aren’t sure where to start then check out a local writer’s group and see if you can find someone there who is looking for a writing buddy. You can bounce ideas off each other, read each other’s WIPs, and hopefully encourage each other to become better writers.
Being a writer isn’t easy. We do it out of passion, and even though sometimes we hate our work we also can’t imagine ever giving it up. Hopefully, this blog post will help you learn how to become even better at doing what you already love.