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How I Became a Better Writer

How I Became a Better Writer

There is no single path to becoming a better writer. Instead, we have a myriad of options before us. Here are some of the opportunities I encountered on my writing journey:

Write Columns

Early on I contributed articles to a small newsletter (back when newsletters were still mailed). Having a deadline to hit each month was great preparation. It also taught me to always look for ideas and to work ahead. I did this for several years.

Get a Writing Job

Later I worked for a company in a seemingly perpetual state of reorganization. During one such reshuffling, I ended up doing tech writing. I wrote for eight hours-a-day, five-days-a-week, every week. Though another restructuring soon moved me elsewhere, during this stint I learned how to write all day long.

Blog

Years later I jumped into blogging. What started as an experiment, moved into a hobby, and later acquired a purpose. At one time I had eight active blogs. Now I’m down to three and may whittle that down to two. (But don’t worry; this one will stay). In the past eight years, I’ve published some 1,500 posts, amounting to nearly a half-million words. During this time, I found my writing voice.

Listen to Podcasts

I don’t listen to music on my iPod; I listen to podcasts, mostly about writing. I learn about writing as a craft and as a business. I listen for several hours each week. It’s like going to school—without the tests.

Get Feedback

I also participate in critique groups. My friends help me improve. Yes, it’s wonderful when they like my words, but it’s even better when they point out the shortcomings. They encourage me and keep me on track.

Study Writing

I also read magazines and books about the craft. Though I own more writing books than I’ve read, what I have read has helped me greatly.

Read Broadly

For too many years I read only nonfiction relating to work or faith. After a while, everything I read bored me. Now I read mostly fiction, from just about any genre. As I read more widely, I can write more broadly.

Form Community

I spend time with other writers. Only writers understand the isolation of the work, the frustration of when words don’t work as we wish, the agony of rejection, and the joy of publication. We need a writing community to journey with us, be it online or in person.

Content Marketing

In pursuing freelance work, I do a lot of content marketing, which for me is much like blogging. Here I write with a purpose, have deadlines, and earn money. I think every writer—whether they admit it or not—wants to make money with their writing. I do.

These are the highlights of my writing journey, haphazard for the first three decades and more intentional in the last one. Your journey will be different.

May we all move steadily down the path of our own writing roads.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

4 replies on “How I Became a Better Writer”

Travis, that is a great question! Here are the podcasts I currently listen to:

The Creative Penn (Joanna Penn) https://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/

Writing Excuses https://writingexcuses.com/

Novel Marketing https://www.authormedia.com/

The Self-Publishing Podcast https://www.storystudiopodcast.com/ (these guys are often crass and their recordings carry the “explicit” rating, but I do learn a lot from them)

I hope one or two click with you!

Hey, Peter–You should write a story about a young man and his writing path. I think it would be interesting! I miss you all. Why am I not writing? I don’t know! Gayle

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