Now that you know what to watch out for – the speed bumps and demons that could slow down your writing progress – let’s talk about how to actually improve your writing.
If you’re waiting for me to say that the #1 “trick” to improve your writing is to write a lot, I’m definitely not going to say that.
Writing more will certainly, by default, help you improve. You won’t get better by just learning theories and methods – all of that information only matters if you start to put it into practice.
So how do we improve?
That’s the secret. The #1 “trick” to improving your writing is to read.
I’m not just talking about books about writing theory or methods or how to craft more realistic characters.
Writers need to read FOR FUN … do you remember fun?
I bet writing started out as something fun for you – it certainly did for me. I’ve loved writing my entire life, except for that decade where I earned all of my income from writing. I was miserable.
Because I stopped reading. I focused more on producing words than filling up my creative bank account with inspiring stories, ideas, and insights I couldn’t have had on my own.
Now, I have a list of 230+ books I want to read, and I’m always actively reading one book. Some books can be read in days, while others are meant to be savored, contemplated, and enjoying over weeks and weeks.
This isn’t about volume or a race to absorb as much information as possible (I’ve tried that and it didn’t work, surprisingly). Reading to improve your writing is about finding books you enjoy, by writers you appreciate, and indirectly learning about how they create a narrative (fiction or nonfiction) that hooks you.
Bill Nye said, “Everyone you ever meet will know something you don’t.” Every book you ever read will spark something in you that wasn’t there before. It will improve your writing and, perhaps, improve you as a person in day-to-day life – books have the power to do that.
Whether you’re writing to entertain, engage, inform, inspire, or influence, the #1 “trick” to doing it effectively is to see how others have done it. Frequently.
Fill up your creative bank account with a good book or two—your local library is a writer’s best friend.
P.S. This does NOT give you license to feel like you need to constantly improve your manuscript and never publish it. We’ve talked about how the editing phase is where many writers get stuck and how to get past it.
Bio: Victoria Klein is a two-time published author and the VP of Production for Paper Raven Books. Formerly PRB’s Book Project Manager, Victoria has helped numerous authors through the self-publishing process from start to finish. Through her monthly posts, she’ll reveal the biggest concerns and mistakes of self-publishing authors, and how to solve them.