No one is born a great writer. Some authors have innate talent; others have a story they were born to tell. But if you read the biographies or memoirs of great writers, you’ll discover each of them developed their writing skills over time. It is the same for you. To become a great writer, honing your writing skills is part of the process. Eventually, your craft will improve until you are confident you can tell your story with eloquence and originality. To get there, here are some ways to hone your skills.
Read What You Want to Write
First, read books that you love. Second, make sure you read the best of what you love. Don’t bother with books that aren’t well written. Check out reviews and be sure you’re reading quality writing. From there, choose to read the books that are praised for the authors’ writing skills and the content. You absorb and internalize what you read. Reading excellent writing gives you insight into ways to improve your own writing skills.
Keeping a journal gives you the freedom to play with how you write while allowing you to express yourself without censure. Consequently, you are more apt to write without second-guessing. Write every day, if possible. It doesn’t have to be something long or important. The consistency of writing down your thoughts will help you create the discipline to write even when uninspired. Looking back on your entries periodically will also reveal your progress as a writer as you become more comfortable with journaling. As a result, your writing skills will show improvement even in this informal format.
Pare It Down
Take out a manuscript or story that you put aside, whether it was last week or last year. Now reread your work pare it down. Be brutal. Take it down to its most stripped-down form, capable of relaying only the essentials of your narrative. Learning how to edit is one of the most essential writing skills and one of the most difficult to develop. You won’t always have to be brutal when editing your work, but discovering how to take your writing down to the bone will help you develop a feel for three factors in writing:
- The framework – what is essential
- The details – what adds flavor and depth
- The extraneous – what can be eliminated
Once you’ve learned to pare things down, adding details and creating a mood without overdoing it becomes more natural. Starting with fewer words is one of the most challenging writing skills to develop.
Improve Your Descriptive Writing Skills
If you have trouble with descriptive passages in your writing, improve by describing places, events, or people around you. When someone or something moves you, write a descriptive essay. Evoke the sounds, sights, atmosphere of a place or time. When you begin, you may feel stilted or limited. To overcome this, try freewriting – don’t edit as you go or think, just let your train of thought take you along. This exercise isn’t about being perfect; it’s about being expressive.
Join a Writing Skills or Writers’ Workshop
Check with your community college, local library, and other sources for writers’ groups. Although it can be intimidating to show your work to others, a good writers’ group gives you feedback and support in equal measure. Each time you put your work out there, you learn something. Just as important is what you glean from reading the works of others and providing your feedback. You develop an eye for what appeals to you, what leaves you flat, and writing mistakes to avoid. You also learn from those moments when others in your writers’ group point out a particular passage you wrote that moves them. Understand what others find compelling in your writing and build on those traits. Finally, your writer’s group can be a tremendous boost to your confidence and a reminder that you do, indeed, have excellent writing skills.
Dudley Court Press
Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors.