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10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer January 5, 2016

Posted by heidi skarie in Writing.
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  1. Write regularly. Like practicing the scales on a piano, anything you want to be good at takes time and effort. The more you work at it, the better you will become. Dedication to your writing is more important than natural talent. You can learn to write just as you can learn to draw, play an instrument or play golf.
  2. Keep a journal. A journal is a great place to write down your goals, dreams and ideas. It’s a place you can write without worrying about whether anyone will see or like it. You can learn about yourself, heal from hard experiences and write down stories about your life.

I was inspired to become a writer after having a series of six movie-like dreams. My dream journal entries of the story filled 100 pages. The story was so enjoyable I learned the craft of writing.

  1. Keep a notebook with you. You never know when you’re going to have an idea you want to jot down such as an inspiration for a character or scene. You might overhear an interesting conversation that sparks an idea or see a building or park or woods you want to use for a scene of your novel.
  2. Join a critique group. Find a group of writers that are on the same level as you or more experienced. Meet with them on a regular basis—once a week or once a month. Exchange your work ahead of time and so they can comment on your writing. Be open to criticism. Listen to all they have to say without defending yourself. When they are done, you can ask them to clarify their comments if there’s anything you don’t understand. When you go home, you can decide if their comments are helpful. I pay special attention when several people in the group feel the same way about something. In the end it’s up to you to decide what criticism is helpful.
  3. Take a writing class. College classes, night classes, or community center classes—all can be helpful. Find a writing class on the type of writing you want to do whether fiction, nonfiction, poetry or articles.
  4. Go to writing conferences. Conferences are a great way to meet other writers. There are many different types of writing conferences. The romance, science fiction and mystery writers offer big ones every year. Agents are often at conferences and may offer sessions where you can pitch your book to them. Local or regional conferences for all types of writers are also beneficial.
  5. Join local writing groups. Look for ones with people who write literary fiction or in the same genre as you do. My area has romance, speculative fiction, mystery, library, church, and women writers groups.
  6. Read regularly in a variety of genres. Read fiction and nonfiction, past and current best-selling books. Read the genre you write. Read with a critical eye. What makes the book good? Where could it be improved? In a novel do you like the pacing, plot and characters?
  7. Read books on writing. Start your own writing reference library. I have an unabridged dictionary, thesaurus and several books on grammar in my library although now I use the computer mainly as a reference. I have books on character, plot, dialogue, description and scenes. I have books on writing science fiction since I write in that genre. I also write historical novels, so I have books on Native Americans and Vikings. Other books include inspirational, getting an agent or publisher, The Writer’s Market and books on marketing.
  8. Never give up. Just keep writing and submitting to agents and publishers or self-publish. You’re never too old to start writing. You’re never too busy to write. Write when you can and where you can. You don’t need a special time to write or special room to write in. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen or a computer or word processor.

Share your tips for being a better writer.  I’d love to add to the list