The other day, I was thinking about my writing journey. What got me from beginner to where I am now. So, without further ado, here’s Five Things That Made Me a Better Writer.
1) Writing. The first step to being a good writer is to just be a writer. The simple act of writing, playing around with stories and characters – it’s taught me a lot. I’ve learned by doing. However, my progress would have been a ton slower if not for outside help. Which brings me to my next point.
2) Getting Critiqued. One of the best writing-related decisions I’ve ever made was to join Critique Circle, an amazing online writing group. I learned so much by people telling me – in a constructive way – the things that I needed to fix. But also, the things that I was doing well. The boost of encouragement that I got every time someone said “hang in there” helped me to keep writing.
Now, if you think that’s the only benefit of something like CC, you are sadly mistaken. Take a look at my next point:
3) Giving Critiques. On CC, you have to give at least 3 critiques in order to submit a story for review. Which means I spent lots of time critiquing. Lots of time spent staring at words, figuring out what made me stumble over words. Observing what makes a sentence work and what kills it. The act of getting my hands dirty in other people’s work really helped me to see the issues in my own. It taught me to be a better proof-reader of my own work, and it taught me to write better and avoid certain mistakes altogether.
Each time I give a critique on CC, I also look to see what other people have said about the piece of work. I love seeing the things that other people caught that I missed, hearing other people’s opinions about how to fix something, and smiling at the typos I caught that no one else did. 🙂
4) Reading Books on the Craft of Writing. One in particular really helped me early on: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. It has everything you need to turn your WIP into an amazing work of art. I’m sure there are tons of other writing books out there that are just as good. The main point is: get some professional help from a book on the craft of writing. (I’ve also heard tons of good things about Steven King’s On Writing.)
5) The Online Presence. Probably top of this list is a blog called Crackin The WIP – it’s a blog by seven different writers, and it’s glorious. There have been so many posts that have changed the way I thought about something (dialogue, characters, plot, etc) – and often times, just reading a post on that blog gives me the push of motivation to dive into my own writing once again.
But there are other blogs, too, that have helped me. And forums on CC are a great place for information. And sometimes, just Googling a question leads to a great article that helps my writing.
And that concludes my list!
What are some things that got you where you are today? Have you used all of these resources? Are there any important ones that I left out? Drop me a comment and let me know. Happy writing!