When you write, you’re not just putting words onto paper but shaping them in a unique way. It’s a craft. It takes time, patience and practice to do well, and it evolves as you find your rhythm and voice.
Ten ways to write well
- Think as much as you write – You’ll likely have heard the saying ‘think before you speak’ and you can apply this to your creative writing too. Taking time to think and plan helps you to consider why you’re writing a particular piece, who you’re writing it for, and what you hope to achieve from it. That might be to entertain, educate or win a competition, for example. Thinking is as important as writing.
- Build your skills – We all have both strengths and weaknesses. Embrace your strengths and let them shine through in your work. Face your weaknesses and commit to working on them. Weaknesses don’t mean you’re a bad writer. We all have areas to develop. Use writing prompts, competitions and get critiques from other writers to help give you the focus you need to turn weaknesses into wonderful words.
- Don’t forget the basics – The more you write, the easier it is to lose sight of the basic practicalities of writing and how powerful they can be. Logical flow is a great example. Your story needs to make sense. Using language your readers understand will also serve you well. How many novels have you set aside because the language is too complicated, complex, or fluffy? Consider how you transition your reader from sentence to sentence. Have you created a mix of long and short sentences to help with pacing? Revisiting the basics of writing can refresh your creativity.
- Remember, you’re the author! When writing, it’s easy to forget that you started your creative journey because you love it. Your personality creates a unique stamp across all your work. Remind yourself why you adore writing, how far you’ve come from the first pieces you penned and enjoy being the author of your world.
- Write around your life – If you have a family, career, social life and write around your life commitments, you probably won’t have time to write as often as you would like. Spend some of the time you’re not writing, filling your creative well. Inspiration is all around. Carry a notebook as you go about your life and capture ideas, snippets of dialogue and other things as they appear. You may also find it useful to set aside special time for your writing in a way that fits in with your lifestyle. Put it in your calendar and set a goal, however small, to help you move forward.
- Become an eternal student – We can’t know it all. That’s what research is for. There are also new techniques waiting to be developed. Look out for the bounty of writing Podcasts and online workshops covering the craft of writing, aimed at writers of all levels of experience. Take part. Become an eternal student and learn as you write.
- Storytime – Read your work aloud. Build storytime into your writing time. You’ll only notice that a sentence jars when you read it out loud. It’s a fabulous way to improve your writing. Be as impartial as you can when you listen to your work.
- Revise, review, reboot – Editing your work is essential. Revising what you’ve written flags up significant opportunities for improvement that may have a huge impact on the finished piece. The process will also enhance your writing.
- Read like a writer – Cosying up with a cup of tea and a great book is wonderful. When you can, switching from a leisure reader to a working reader can help you improve your writing. Observe the way the author handles sentence structure, language, dialogue and other aspects of their prose. What do you enjoy? What grips you? What pulls you in and out of the story? This isn’t about mimicking the greats, but more about understanding what excellent writing looks like, absorbing these lessons, and transferring them to your work in your unique way.
- Just write! You can’t improve on something you don’t do. To write well, you must write, full stop. Don’t let any fears that your words might not be good enough block you from putting your words onto the page. Even renowned writers’ works have had to be edited. Likewise, you can always come back to polish later.
Remember, there is no single ‘right’ way to write, only your way. The best way to discover your way is to be open-minded and to experiment. Enjoy the journey of discovery!