To progress as an author requires hard work and diligent focus
I’ve been writing my entire adult life. In the early years, my primary goal was to write faster, but for the past decade or so, my focus was on writing better. As I attended to learning the craft of writing, my writing has steadily improved. Along the way, I have also begun to write with increased speed.
Here are my ten tips to improve as a writer:
- Write: The most essential step is to just sit down and write. Some aspiring writers put off this tip waiting until they are ready. Guess what? I doubt anyone is ever ready. Not really. So start writing. Do it on a regular basis. Take it seriously. Make your writing time sacred. When I did this, my writing blossomed.
- Study Writing: We must study the art and craft of writing. I read about writing, listen to writing podcasts, learn from the masters, and go to lectures. If you’re in school, take writing classes.
- Read Broadly: Reading informs our writing. We see what other authors do. We learn what we like and don’t like. We need to read in our genre and outside it. Read for fun, and read to learn.
- Watch Movies: Cinema informs my writing almost as much as reading. Movies reveal insight about plot development, effective openings, memorable endings, character development, effective dialogue, and more.
- Attend Conferences: Writers often complain about the cost of conferences: registration, airfare, hotel, and incidentals. I get that but tap into local conferences to eliminate the travel and lodging expenses. Some events are even free.
- Participate in Groups: Join a critique group, support group, accountability group, or some collection of other writers who have a shared goal of improvement.
- Pay for Help: If you need help, don’t be afraid to pay for it. This may be for edits, critiques, story development, or any other area where you struggle. What if you can’t afford it? Find an away. Be creative. Swap services. One enterprising writer “paid” her editor by cleaning her house.
- Give to Others: Share what you can with other writers. Give it to the industry and the industry will give to you.
- Work in the Industry: If you have the opportunity to find employment that intersects with writing or publishing in any way, grab it. This may be part-time or full time; it may pay well or little (and some gigs are a volunteer). But the key is to put yourself in a position to interact with other writers. You will learn from your environment; by osmosis, you will grow.
- Write: I end my list with the same tip I began with. That’s because too many aspiring writers become so busy, so fixated, on tips 2 through 9 that they skip the writing part. They don’t have time, become too distracted, or put it off. If you’re serious about writing, never stop. Writing is the most critical step to being a writer.
Follow these tips to become a better writer. Pick one and implement it. Then add another. Keep going until you are doing all ten. You will be amazed at the results.
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!
Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.