If you’re a writer, whether upcoming or established, there is always room for improvement. That’s because the more you write, the more you discover things to learn or improve on, as the art of writing is vast and diverse. And as you grow, new genres and elements are found. So you’d have to pick out what may work for you or even invent something new for others to follow.
To improve your writing skills-continuously, here are ten tips for you:
Know Your Writing Style:
Your writing style is your mode of identification, not just for your readers to recognize you easily but also for yourself. Thus, you’d have to know your style to identify your strengths and weaknesses, urging you to work on becoming better.
Revise Your Work:
Before you submit your work, revise. Revision is not editing; it’s a way to check your story for fundamental errors that you can quickly fix, e.g. filters, unnecessary scenes, vague words, and any other element that regresses your plot. These are things you shouldn’t wait for your editor to point out. Unfortunately, some writers avoid revision, fearing they would have to rewrite or cancel the whole story. But revision is the only way to make your work good or better and the best that it can be.
Try a Different Genre.:
Just because you’re a romance or mystery writer doesn’t mean that it’s the only genre you can write. You don’t have to make it a habit. But at least, once after one or two works, try playing around with another genre, especially your least favourite. Who knows, your work may contain the spark you find missing in others.
Write from a Different Perspective:
Taking on a different POV (s) for your work is another excellent way to take your writing to the next level. Perhaps that’s why many writers find it difficult and stick with their essential first/second/third-person perspective. But new POVs are being introduced lately-eg, First-person plural, Third-person plural-expanding the horizons of narration and blowing readers’ minds. So why not try one out and see?
How About Short stories?
Some may say short stories are for lazy writers, but that’s not true. They are the best ways to practice and improve your writing, especially during writer’s block or in periods where you may not have enough time to plot a novel. You can use short stories as the muse lifting bars to your writing muscles; they keep your muse in shape and your ink flowing endlessly. You can also use them for experimenting with different narration voices (POV), genres and exploring story ideas. Who knows, you may wish to expand one into a novel in the future.
Write what You want to Know:
In an Interview, Best Selling Thriller Author Karin Slaughter advised: ‘Write what you know and write what you want to know.’ You may easily translate this as writing what you don’t know. But it simply means your lack of knowledge or experience regarding a place, a belief, a phenomenon, or even a snack, shouldn’t stop you from writing about it. You can conduct research, ask questions, then use your imagination to make it look like you’ve known all along.
You may decide to write without reading, but that’s as good as driving at night without headlights. You become a writer by writing, but you become better by reading. And this is not limited to novels alone, but all kinds of written works you can get your hands on, especially books on writing like On writing: A memoir by Stephen King, The Elements of Style by William Strunk others.
Explore Works of Authors in Your Field:
Another way to improve your writing is by keeping track of the works of authors in your niche. Be sure to pay attention to their writing styles, plot structure, outline, etc. There may be something worth learning and implementing in your next story.
Connect with Other Writers:
Whether you’re an introverted or extroverted writer, there is a need for you to connect with others, especially writers. There are various social media platforms -Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Patreon, etc-at your disposal, where you can find writing groups, book clubs, writing organisations where contests, workshops and discussions are hosted. Connecting with other writers enables you to relate, make friends with like-minded individuals and open you to efficient growth and development in your writing.
Plotter, Pantser, meet Tweener:
Once you’ve established yourself as a writer, you’d also know the type of writer you are: A plotter (one who plans his story before writing) or a pantser (one who plans while writing). But do you know there’s a writer that does both? Award-Winning Author and Writing Coach James Scott Bell calls this writer a Tweener who plots a bit, then pants to ‘let the story breath.’ To improve your writing, you may decide to be a different type of writer for each wip-a plotter for project one, a pantser for project two-or be both for one project. Whichever you choose, you’d be sure to learn a new thing or two.
Know that you can’t use any of the tips above if you don’t write. You can read all the books, do all the research, scroll through blog posts, watch all the youtube videos, but if you’re not writing, all your efforts will be in vain. So learn all you can, but write more to get better. Good luck.