5 Tips to Become a Better Writer
So, you’ve written the first draft of your debut fiction novel and you’re staring at the words on the page in terror. You’ve realised you need to become a better writer.
I want you to know that you’re not alone.
I remember looking back at the first thing I ever wrote and shuddering. It was awful, but I knew this experience was a part of the process of becoming a professional writer. Editing your manuscript is a necessary step to improving your work. But, what actionable step can you take beyond the realm of editing? How do you become a better writer? How do you ensure that each manuscript you write is better than the last?
Learn the Craft
This tip isn’t just for aspiring or first-time writers. No matter what stage you’re at in your writing career, you need to be investing in your most important asset. The most obvious way to invest in yourself is to learn the craft of writing. If you’ve never invested in yourself as a writer, read non-fiction books written by other authors on the craft of writing. Over the years, I’ve read quite a few books on the craft of writing. Below is a list of books I’ve read and recommend to anyone who wants to learn the craft of writing fiction.
Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, Revision & Editing by James Scott Bell, Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris, Structuring Your Novel by K.M.Weiland, Outlining Your Novel by K.M.Weiland, and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.*
If you’re writing a book and stuck on a scene, dialogue, or even characters who speak a foreign language, flipping open a book might not be a great option. This is where blogs on the craft of writing become a great resource. I’ve come across a few insightful blogs as I wrote my books Immunity and Silence. To this day, I continue to turn to these blogs for fiction writing advice. On the Indie Authorpreneur Life Blog, I discuss writing non-fiction and book marketing. I will start sharing the lessons I’ve learned writing my James Lalonde thriller series. Until then, here are some blogs to help you out. Below is a shortlist of blogs I read and recommend to fiction authors and aspiring writers.
Writing Blog Recommendations
If you’re busy and don’t know how you’re going to fit in time for writing and learning the craft, then podcasts might be the answer for you. As a part of my morning routine, I listen to an episode of a podcast. I also listen while washing up, when I’m in the shower and travelling on the tube or bus. Making better use of my downtime means I can manage my business, have a personal life, invest in myself and write more books. I’m currently listening to seven different podcasts. I manage this by listening to one podcast per day. Below is a list of podcast episodes I love to listen to.
Writing Podcast Recommendations
Be Willing to Write Badly
One of the mistakes aspiring writers make when writing the first draft of a novel is trying to write a perfect draft. I made this mistake as I started writing the first draft of my thriller novel, immunity. This perfect draft mindset resulted in, taking almost two years to write the first draft of my novel. The point of writing the first draft is not to create something that’s Pulitzer prize-winning. A first draft should be about getting the words down on the page; to do this you need to surrender to writing badly. It’s the editing process that perfects your story and prose. I’m not saying to write a story that’s flawed. But to change your focus when you’re writing the first draft of a novel. Focus on getting the story out of your head and onto the page instead of producing a story with beautiful prose.
Write Every Day
The only way to become a better writer is to write on a frequent basis. But, don’t just write, put what you learn into practice. Writing every day is a necessity but don’t take writing every day, literally. It’s more important to always be writing something.
In light of this point, I have an important question for you. How do you define writing? Do you define writing as contributing to your latest work in progress? If this is how you define writing, then you’re not alone, a lot of writers share this definition. Writing a book is more than just putting words on a page. There’s an entire process involved with writing a book. If you’re writing fiction, there are stages and the “fingers on the keyboard” stage is one step in the process. Worldbuilding, character development, outlining, researching are all apart of the writing process. In order to become a better writer, you need to be working on an aspect of the writing process every day. As I’m writing this blog post, I’m outlining Silence, the prequel novel to my thriller novel, Immunity. I haven’t put words to the page but, I’m still creating a story and working on becoming a better writer.
I know this one is a little cliche but bear with me. If you want to write a book that sells then you need to give readers what they want. Many authors and teachers of the writing craft refer to this as writing to market. To write to market or genre, you need to find the sweet spot between what you want to write, what readers want, and what is selling. Once you’ve found this spot, you write for that market. But, how do you figure out what readers expect?
The answer to this question is simple. Reading more books can help you get an insight into what readers want. You need to read everything. Read in your genre, outside your genre and pay attention to what you’re reading. It’s important that as a writer and author you understand what you like and don’t like when it comes to writing. You also need to look for patterns within your genre. I’m not saying that you need to be a slave to your readers. But, you need to understand the rules before you start breaking them, and know how to break the rules and still leave your readers satisfied.
Understand What Inspires You
If there one thing you need to know about being a writer it this; you won’t always feel like writing. This is perfectly normal, but you shouldn’t let your feelings get in the way of finishing a book. To overcome this you need to understand what inspires you or motivates you. I’m not saying to only write when you feel inspired because you need to treat writing like a business or job. If you want to make money from writing then you need to develop a habit.
The easiest way to overcome these ‘I don’t feel like writing’ moments is to be prepared. It’s also important to understand why you feel this way. The most common reason why people don’t feel like writing is their creative well is empty. You cannot draw water from an empty well. To combat this empty creative well phenomena, you need to pay attention to your create vs consume ratio. In essence, if you’re creating your drawing from your well and you need to fill it up. The easiest way to keep track of this is to make sure you’re doing something every day to top up your creative well.
This leads me to ask you another important question. What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from? The answers to these questions will help you discover the methods you can use to fill up your creative well. If you’re unsure or have just started out as a writer answering this question might be difficult. Consider reading, attending exhibitions, changing your scenery, watching films, listening to audiobooks, or podcasts.
As always, I have a few important questions to ask you. Are you an aspiring author who is looking to become a better writer? How are you going to use these truths to ensure you become a better writer? I want to hear from you. let me know by sharing your actionable steps in the comments section below.
* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for your support. 🙂
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