Being a better writer is easy. Lots of people want to write. They have an idea for an epic fantasy trilogy, or want to be a stay-at-home mommy blogger. All of these are commendable goals, and should be pursued.
There’s no barrier to success as a writer, like a degree you need or a license to pay for. You should just go for it.
What actually sets a writer apart from wanna-be daydreamers, is that writers write.
That’s probably obvious advice, yet it’s a hard pill to swallow.
It’s incredibly easy to be a writer. You just have to sit down and write.
I have absolutely no qualifications as a writer, and I’ll be the first to admit it. And I didn’t go to some fancy Ivy League college or get a master’s degree in the creative arts. I never worked at a newspaper or have any idea what a journalist does.
What I do though – and I guess what qualifies me as a writer – is that I sit down and write. Every day.
Better Writer #1 – Write Every Day
It was seven years ago when I began dabbling in fiction. Most of the books I had been reading didn’t seem too complicated. It really felt like someone had banged out some gibberish on a Saturday afternoon, then decided to publish it.
I figured writing fiction couldn’t be that hard.
I had always been a writer throughout my life, always journaling or writing funny essays. And I wrote some books in elementary school that received local critical praise (my friends). It was one of those things I would do for fun, because I liked it.
I figured if I could get paid to be a writer, that’d be pretty awesome.
So I wrote, and took it seriously.
The first piece of fiction I wrote was a novel. It was an epic science fiction book about ninjas and aliens battling it out to death in an arena – for world domination, of course.
But that book sucked. After I finished, I sat down to edit it, and it was unreadable. I had no idea what was happening in the book, and I was the one who wrote it.
I discovered, suddenly, and the hard way, that writing fiction is hard.
Fiction has like its own rules. It’s a craft of its own. Fiction writers have this eloquently crafted skill, which they’ve taken years to master. Then one day, they’re able to put together enough smartly drafted scenes to create a decent book.
I commend all the published fiction authors out there. I understand the years and toil you have endured to succeed at your chosen craft.
But even though writing fiction is hard, it’s achievable. If you want to do it, just understand it may take a long time to see results – like years. And the only way you’re going to get there is to write, every day.
Better Writer #2 – Read
To develop your skills as a writer, you need to read. And read a lot.
It’s physically impossible to be a decent writer without being an avid reader first.
Just think if you were going to direct a movie. If you had never seen a movie before, but felt compelled to create one, your movie is guaranteed to suck. It’d be one of the weirdest movies ever – the first to receive a zero from Rotten Tomatoes (certified rotten). Congratulations.
You need to have seen movies to understand their structure, what works, and to draw inspiration. And most of all to copy ideas.
That’s how writing goes too.
For some reason people have lost interest in reading books. Most people may read one or two books a year. Yet they think they can hammer out a saleable copy of George R.R. Martin’s masterpiece. News flash: You can’t.
All our reading time is consumed on the internet, social media, quick news blurbs, viral videos, or twitter memes. Or you’re reading compelling internet articles (like this one!), but generally you’re just wasting time and daydreaming.
(Editor’s Note – Please don’t stop reading blogs like this. It helps pay the bills. Thanks.)
So whatever medium you’re toiling in, be a consumer. Whether that’s fiction, non-fiction, blogs, movies, comic books, mommy-blogs. Be an expert. Your creative spirit will thank you.
How to be a Better Writer – Action Steps:
- Write every day
- Read a lot
Do you have a dream you’re trying to pursue? Is there a blog you want to launch or a book you want to write? What excuses are holding you back?