No matter how long you write, it can be hard to see improvements- especially quick improvement after trying a new technique or style. But here are a few proven ways to improve your skill quickly and noticeably.
- Set aside time to WRITE more every day
Most writers already try to write everyday, but this is different- actually plan to block out a specific time to JUST write. This time will be reserved to write and do nothing else. Make this time as uniform as possible from day to day and it will be much easier to form into a habit. Don’t make appointments during this time, and make your family and friends aware that you will not be available during this time of day, and etc.
Make sure you are as distraction free as possible, turning of or silencing cell phones, tablets, email browsers, ANYTHING. Make sure you have everything you need around you, water, tissues, a snack, etc. Try to avoid leaving your writing as little as possible. If you have difficulty concentrating at home, I recommend that you go out to a café or library to get some work done.
- Set aside time to READ more every day
All writers know that reading a lot is JUST as important as writing a lot. So just like you will set aside time just for writing, make sure to clear a large block in your schedule everyday for reading as well. Just merely planning to 'read for two hours' at any old time of the day is too easy to put off or not do at all, but if everyday your plan to write from 3:00pm-5:00pm then you’ll be able to develop a routine and stick to it much easier.
- When watching TV shows, plays and movies consciously think about the writing.
Every production you see, no matter how small was written by someone. Think about how they chose to write it and how you would change it. Would you make it better or is it flawless? Which ever way you feel, try to find out why. What speaks to you? What do you enjoy? These are the things you can incorporate into your own writing. After reading a short story or essay, a good exercise is to try and write in the author’s same style, like you have to write a bonus chapter in the novel but no one can know it wasn’t written by the author. This gives good literary perspective and will greatly help you improve.
- Switch Genres
What ever genre of writing you identify the most with, try to write the polar opposite. Or try to write a piece in ALL of the other genres. Write a research paper, a sci-fi piece, explore fantasy or fable, write a persuasive argument, or a poem. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
- Have others read your work
Sometimes you actually are improving, but it’s impossible to see it for yourself. That’s why it’s good to get an outsider’s perspective and ask someone you trust to read some of your drafts. They can give you much needed insight to how your work is without the bias of being the author.
But like you would with any advice, make sure you take what they have to say with a grain of salt. It is your work after all, you will make the final call. But try to be open to constructive criticism, even though your story can feel like your baby.
- Keep your mind sharp
Whether this means doing the daily crossword, reviewing your old algebra notes, or reciting the alphabet backwards, try to find some way to keep your brain active and focused. There are a multitude of memory aids and games that help you stay savvy. Something I like to do is write down every question that I have during the day (for example: "How DOES my air conditioner work?"), and I try to make sure I answer at least one of my questions everyday. This will help you learn so much more about the world around you, which by default helps widen the scope of your writing.
- Lastly, explore all the internet has to offer
We all know that just about any question can be answered by the internet. (Like how you found this blog post for example!) There are too many websites to count that can help you improve as a writer, from Merrian Webster to Urban Dictionary- and don't forget Blog posts like this one!
Thank you for reading, I hope it can be of some use to you!