No matter how well you write, there is always room to improve your writing skills. While practicing your craft is undoubtedly the most obvious way to improve, there are other ways to build upon a strong foundation to refine your abilities.
Read the Right Stuff
Reading books you love for the quality of the prose as well as the content will help you recognize and develop an appreciation of beautifully turned phrases and evocative descriptions. Pay attention to mechanics, style, tone, and structure. Study the pace of a book and how an author manages transitions and captures each character’s personality. When reading non-fiction, how does an author create an exciting atmosphere? How do the facts come alive? These are crucial writing skills not everyone notices.
Jot It Down
Keep a notebook with you everywhere you go. In the digital age, it’s easy to take notes on your smartphone if you prefer. However you do it, be sure to jot down any idea when it crosses your mind. How many times have you had a great idea when you were out with friends or standing in line at the grocery store and thought, “Wow, I need to write that down!” then forgot about it until days later, only to be unable to recall the details?
The best writing skills depend partly on craft and partly on inspiration. Don’t limit yourself when writing things down. If you overhear part of a conversation that intrigues you, write it in your notebook. Later it could evolve into a short story or novel. Did you see a tense confrontation between two people? You may want to explore the reasons behind it for a report on human relationships. Inspiration can come from anywhere – write it down at the moment it happens to make sure it doesn’t slip away.
If you are new to writing or don’t write full-time, it’s tempting to put off sitting down to write until you have some free time. Don’t. The best way to improve your writing skills is to practice as frequently as possible. If you have a full-time job and a family to care for, you may only be able to squeeze in a half-hour of writing each day. That’s fine, but make that half-hour sacrosanct. Set aside everything else, block out distractions, and devote yourself to practicing your writing skills. If you can set aside an hour or more every day, even better. The key is to make writing a priority in your life rather than fitting it in as an afterthought.
Revising is not the same as editing. Editing focuses on grammatical and spelling mistakes; revising focuses on structure. Look for awkward sentences, confusing passages, and unnecessary wordiness. Read your writing out loud to get a feel for whether narrative passages have a natural flow to them or are stilted and unrealistic. Ruthless revisions can elevate good writing to exceptional writing by improving the clarity of your words. It can be helpful to write one day and revise the next, so you’re reviewing the previous day’s writing with fresh eyes.
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.
For more information, including about DCP’s programs for writers, including Writers’ Sprint, Memoir Writing Made Easy, and Aspiring Author to Published Pro, please get in touch at +1-520-329-2729 or publisher@DudleyCourtPress.com.