Becoming a Better Writer

Becoming a better writer is a daily process, not an overnight occurrence. Honing your writing craft requires investing time, committing to writing daily, participating in a writer’s group in order to learn from like-minded people, and studying the art of writing by reading, taking courses and attending conferences. Eighty percent of submissions are discarded without a word ever being read. This is a daunting number when you pause to consider it. Do not let it discourage you; instead let it challenge you to perfect your craft through hard work, dedication and perseverance. Be faithful to your craft and it will not return void.

  1. Writing is a craft. You are a craftsman. Don’t set out trying to be the next literary giant or to win the Pulitzer. Why are you writing? If it’s because you want to be famous, then please quit now.
  2. Since it’s a craft, it demands practice. You have to do the work if you hope to get any better. The story won’t write itself
  3. Inspiration is 10 percent. Sweat is the other 90. Don’t wait for the 10. Spend time doing the work and you’ll see results.
  4. A little each day is better than huge sporadic splurge; just like going to the gym. You lose weight a pound at time.

Writing and going to the gym have a lot in common. They require discipline and effort. To see results—not necessarily success—you have to make the effort. You have to push yourself to go when you don’t feel like it or when you’d rather do something else. The same holds true for writing. It starts with you sitting down in front of a blank page and recording the first word. You may have to get up early. You will have to make sacrifices. If you don’t exercise your muscles they won’t grow, unless you’re some genetic freak of nature. Odds are, you aren’t, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Writing is a craft. Craftsmen invest hours honing their skills. It doesn’t happen on its own. It requires intentional commitment to sit down and work at it.

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being a writer. Dreams without actions blur into fantasies. Whether you write longhand, use a pen or a pencil, or punch out your words on a laptop sit down and write. Otherwise, your story will never get written. At least not by you.

Don’t quit your day job. Sure, you’ve probably read about the aspiring writer who quit their job and moved out to the wilderness to focus on writing. The world simply doesn’t work that way. At least not for most of us. You need to earn a living. You need to support your family. Keep working. Make time to write when you’re not working. Carve out an hour. Write 300 words. Grow from there.

Who is going to read my work? I don’t know who will read what you write once you’ve written it. What I do know is that if you don’t write it nobody will ever read it. Don’t think to hard yet. Focus on putting words down on paper. It’s too soon to know if you are a good writer, if you’re telling a good story or if anyone will like what you wrote. The point is, you have to start where you are. Don’t worry about how good you are or aren’t, avoid comparing your writing to others. Just commit to honing your craft and becoming the best writer you can be. It may come easy to you; it may not. The willingness to work hard at your craft can overcome a myriad of obstacles.

Join a writer’s group. I can’t overstate the value of gathering together with like-minded individuals striving to perfect their craft. You can learn a lot from those who have gone before you and gain a source of encouragement from your peers who are walking with you on your journey to becoming a better writer.

Study the craft of writing. Read what others have written. Read the great writers throughout history. Read stories that interest you. Learn how to write what you like to read. Attend writer’s workshops and writer’s conferences in order to spend time receiving instruction and feedback from professionals in the writing industry. Sometimes the secret to getting published is a matter of who you know, not what you know.

The market for strong, real, authentic writing is a constant that is always with us. People like to read or hear a good story. Make your story compelling so that they want to keep on reading. Write every day, rain or shine, whether you feel inspired or not. Sit down and write.

You can do it. I have confidence in you.

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