Becoming a writer requires many skills – such as the ability to research effectively, to explore your creative side, to draw on your imagination, and to have a good working knowledge of grammar, syntax, punctuation and spelling. These are not things that can be developed over night. They take time and effort to cultivate. So how do you grow? What strategies can you use to become the kind of writer you’ve always dreamed of?
Take an in depth look at one of your favourite novels. Take notes. How did the first page or paragraph grab your attention? What is it about the narrative style that involves you as a reader? What made you want to turn to the next page and the next and the next?
The reverse is also helpful. Take a book that you hated and make a list of the reasons why. How did it fail to meet your expectations as a reader? What would you do to improve it? Make sure to focus on the mechanics and not just the story line. If you want to take literary analysis a step further you might like to think about joining a reading group. This can be an excellent way to gain insight into what constitutes a great novel or a bad novel in the eyes of others. In short it will broaden your mind and highlight ways you can improve.
I can’t emphasize this enough. Reading is key to a writer’s growth. It can be difficult to do when you have your head stuck in one of your own projects. But just remember, even the greats swear by it as this quote by William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Laureate proves;
“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write.”
#3 Join a writers group
This can be done online but I would actually recommend that it be done out in the real world. There’s nothing quite so good at revealing weaknesses in your own work than standing in front of a roomful of strangers and reading it aloud. It’s difficult to do at first, but believe me; it will make a big difference. The feedback and exchange of ideas is invaluable. And don’t be discouraged if you get a negative comment or two. You can’t please everyone all the time. And don’t forget – it is possible that they may have a valid point. Take time to consider whether or not this is the case before you reject their comments out of hand. After all that’s why you’re there – so that others can help you up your game.
#4 Try new things
Trying something new can be very refreshing if you’re stuck in a rut. Maybe you’ve always stayed with one particular genre when reading and writing? That can be likened to only going to one place on holiday for your entire life. Some people are happy enough with that. Others aren’t. The latter are the explorers, the adventurers who thrive on new experiences and learning. So why not try a new genre and see where it takes you? You never know what you might learn about yourself or your trade.
You might also consider a new form of writing. This can involve moving from poetry to prose or writing in the third person when you normally write in the first person. You could also try writing short stories, humorous pieces or entering competitions. Branching out into new avenues helps avoid stagnation. So go on! Be brave and mix it up 😀