- Read books that challenge you
Whether it challenges your beliefs (opening your mind to new cultures, places, and people) or your vocabulary, reading books that you wouldn’t usually read is a great way of deepening your own writing.
- Write every day
This is a tip you hear a lot, but I’ll expand it a bit. By “write every day,” I do not mean you need to write the same story day after day, or necessarily progress in anything. Instead, you could some days just jot down ideas for a story or characters or rewrite a story you previously wrote. Simply doing something writing-related is enough.
- Understand People Better
In writing fiction, characters are extremely important. And the best characters are created when they come across as real people. In order to create realistic characters, you must first understand the depth of humans themselves. What motivates others? What do we fear? Understand others better and you will create not characters, but people.
- Write About What You Love
So many people seem to write what others will like or what they believe will make them money. But let me say, when an author is not passionate about their subject, you can tell. So love what you write.
- Take Notes of Everything
Always have a notebook and pen in your purse (napkins work just as well). The best writers always keep careful notes of ideas, inspirations, and information. Unless you have a perfect memory (I know I don’t), just know that you’ll probably forget a brilliant idea if you don’t write it down. Of course, this is the 21st century, so you could just write ideas on your cellphone.
- Learn Discipline
This is probably the best answer to any question. How do you learn a new language—learn discipline. How do you lose weight—learn discipline (that sounded a bit cruel). To be a better writer, you have to be able to be disciplined to write, to meet deadlines, and understand how you need to push through even when you’re not inspired.
- Be Confident but Realize you are Fallible
There is fine line between confidence and egotism, as well as humility and fear. On one hand, don’t beat yourself up for being imperfect, but also don’t think your writing is perfect—reaching perfection in writing is unachievable, because writing is subjective.
- Surround Yourself with Helpful People
It is important to surround yourself with people who encourage you to be better. On one hand, they are there when you need advice. On the other hand, they can also help make your writing better. This can sometimes mean telling you you’re wrong, but they do it in a kind, non-malicious way. Again, it’s a fine balance.
- Listen to People
Just like understanding people will increase your character depth, listening to how a large variety of people naturally talk can help create more believable dialogue. Notice little habits people use, like a repetition of words (common ones are “like,” “umm,” and “so”). Accents are another thing you can study by listening to people, helping you to write good dialogue for characters with accents.
- Learn and Then Break the Rules
English professors from my college would always tell me to break the rules. But the problem with this advice is that most writers don’t know the rules to begin with. I’m not talking about grammar rules, but instead often agreed upon writing rules (such as “never open a book with the weather” or “avoid adverbs”). So learn about the different “rules” of writing and then break them tactfully.
- Do not Rely on Spellcheck
Anyone who is British will know not to rely on spellcheck. If you use foreign words or just alternative spelling, do not automatically assume the red squiggly line means you’re wrong. One example is “honor” vs. “honour.” Both are right, but spellcheck only recognizes the first. So, do not rely on spellcheck.
- Learn to Take Criticism
I know it’s easier said than done. In theory, it’s easy to take criticism, but when someone says your writing has big issues, it can be like a sharp knife to the heart. On one hand, you need to learn how to take criticism subjectively, but you also need to learn how to differentiate helpful critique from useless critique (the difference between “your book sucks” and “this character really doesn’t come across as unique”).
- Read it Aloud
When you are rewriting, make sure to read it out loud. This technique is a quick fix to making you a better writer. Not only do you notice when the wording sounds a bit awkward, but it especially helps with realistic dialogue.
- Try Things
Experiment. Try writing in first, second, and third voice perspective. Try writing different genres. Try writing non-fiction, poetry, and screenplays. Try writing different tones—dark, sarcastic, serious, or silly.
- Read/Watch tips from the other writers
You are reading this blog now, so you’re on the right track. Look at different bloggers’ advice. Look at professional writer’s interviews to learn about their process. Read the thousands of books on how to write a novel, or screenplay, or just how to write in general. Read and search out information.
What are the best writing tips you’ve discovered that have helped you the most? Let me know down in the comments and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,