Friday, October 15, 2021

5 Tricks That Will Make You a Better Writer

Halloween is almost upon us, but I don't remember the last time one of my grandchildren was asked to do a trick at someone's door over getting a free treat.

With writing, however, tricks remain one of the greatest treats of creating your best work.

Allow me to share 5:

1. Getting out. Like the ghouls and boys at Halloween, you must venture out to get that well-craved treat. You can't expect to stay home (unless you're the parent) and receive your favorite chocolates. The same is true with the better writers who go out - not just to work or to the grocery store - but on a planned visit. Taking a walk is good, so is visiting the park, taking in a movie or dinner alone, or purposely planning a weekend at a favorite hotel or destination to write your heart out.

Our annual Halloween party. From left to right: Bekah as Nancy Drew, Chris as Neighborhood Watch guy, Me as Carmen Sandiego, Doug as Sherlock Holmes, Jacob as Scooby Do.

2. Writing when you don't feel like it. Writing, for me, is like breathing. Some days, all I can do is write in my journal, but I write every day. When it hurts the most is the best time to write. I have found when I write when I hurt I heal that much faster.

3. Reading what other writers have written. I know, I know, you've heard this for years, but it remains true. I still talk to writers who love to write but they never read. There is something life-changing about reading what someone else has written and paying attention to how and what they have written about, especially if the book is in the same genre as the one you are writing or wish to write. We can learn a lot about characters, setting, dialogue, and plot by reading someone else's work.

4. Editing! Editing, at least for me, is a dreaded task until I think about the end result. Always, always, the end result is a better representation of what I have written. Always! How many drafts does it take to get to the end of your [book]? The world may never know, but you should.

"How many licks does it take to get to the end of a Tootsie Pop?"
 Photo by Nagesh Badu on Unsplash

5. Taking in feedback. This is hard! I still struggle with this one! Especially after I've worked hard to make the work my best and there are still issues! Sometimes the feedback is someone's opinion. You hear it once and no one else makes the same comment. I take a look at these and often let them go. Then there are the times you hear the same comment over and over. That's when you really take a look! That's when changes for me are often made.

Becoming a better writer doesn't happen in a moment as you know. But a howling night, maybe five or ten years down the road, you'll look at your earlier work and really see something! The best treat of all...


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