We all want to improve our writing and there are many ways to go about seeking this improvement. After years of writing, and a few years of studying that, I can provide five very simple and incredibly effective ways to go about giving your writing that boost it may need!
1) A Wide Array of Reading
Knowing how others write will allow you to see what is there.
It may seem basic but good writing comes from good reading. By having a wide range of books and knowledge at your disposal the writing you do seems to swell with the intertexuality that comes with being well read. When writing fiction it is exceptionally beneficial to, at least, have a range of reading around the genre that you’re most interested in. It works really well to have read things from other genres which will spin creatively the works you are writing and give an alternativeness to you work. Reading is fundamental to good writing. You may not know it, or fell that by reading someone all you will do is imitate, but you will not. It will give you, and your writing, flesh simply by allowing you to move forward. Before you start to write, really write, you should read. Explore before you set off on an adventure on your own because wandering without a map… well that’s considerably more difficult.
Try looking at what work is out there in the same field as what you like to write in and if you don’t have a favourite writing genre or style then just read, read, everything you can!
2) Understanding The Intricacies
Knowing some writing theory can really help understanding your own writing as a craft.
This is by no means the same as being well read. To read something, to experience, something it is not the same as understanding and utilising it. Having a knowledge, even at a working level, of the techniques used in writing can be really beneficial to the development of the craft. By knowing the intricacies of techniques like: repetition, metaphors and alteration, you writing can develop massively. The more techniques you know and know how to use the more you can implement effectively into your writing.
As well as this though you should consider looking at the criticality of literature. Critical thinking is massive when it comes to writing and by knowing something about a critical field, like psychoanalysis, you can really dig into the construction of your writing. By looking at criticality it can be seen how massively my own writing has improved and the same can be done by you.
Having a knowledge of literature from something above the basic writing level is extremely helpful as it allows you to dig into the craft. Look at your writing, can you identify what techniques you’ve used in it, without deliberately putting them in there? How well does you writing stand in a critical field?
3) Find a voice, not an echo.
Above all else it is important to be yourself. Do not write for someone else, write for you. When most people consider their own authorial voice they often question if they have one. Finding a voice can be difficult and often it develops over time by writing over and over again. A narrative voice will change as you do, shifting to your knowledge and understanding. But how can you find a voice? How do you know if you have one?
Your voice, in writing, is your uniqueness and is what makes you different to others. As a writer you can imitate a style and technique of another author as something experimental or commemorative but to use the voice of another you will often find it hard to write at all: because you’re writing in a shifted position away from that is the ‘real’ you. To find a voice it is best to look though your own writing and read over what you have done. After seeing what you’ve done before you can think on it as you write forward.
Finding a voice is difficult, but you may already have one and not even know it. And if you don’t your writing will be missing something, you’ll feel an absence on the page. It is missing something: it is missing you.
Your voice will be yours and undeniably so, you just need to find it.
4) Keep an active thought process
We all have days where we undergo what I like to call ‘writing guilt’. We want to write and feel like if we did we could really do something: be productive. But alas we do not, we simply procrastinate the day away. But even on these days you can write without writing, create without letting a pen hit paper or fingers stream over a keyboard.
Keep your mind on the writing. It is not beneficial or healthy to sit and mull over what you haven’t done. But if you want to shift that thought process and help work towards actively writing then rather than think, “I haven’t done __” and think, “I can do __”.
If you’re writing fiction think about your character, what would they do? How would they think? Feel?
Writing non-fiction? Why not consider an alternative thought? What do you know and what gaps can you find in that knowledge?
Both of these will help keep your mind on the work. Perhaps it is best to take a day away directly from the document but you should let your mind wander, you may discover there’s more than you last thought.
5) Write Through It
As any writer knows the hardest thing to work though is writers block. At its worst it can decimate the integrity of your writing and completely remove you from your passion. But do not let it destroy you!
Someone once told me that the best way to get out of writers block is to keep writing. I can not state this enough, it works incredibly. It will frustrate you, starting at the blank space and trying to force out sentences. It will not make sense, it will be a mess and above all else it will not be your finest work. But keep going. Eventually something will spark and all those incoherent babbles will become the beautifully crafted sentences you know you can work with. A great way to do this is begin with a topic, a title, and write line after broken line until it all comes together.
Most of it may be rubbish, but one line will be enough to redeem the entire thing and you will discover that you have not lost your touch at all: it was just hiding beneath reams of rubbish.