When it comes to writing, we envision ourselves typing away at a keyboard, in the zone. We know exactly what to write and how to write it.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Writing is never like that. It may not even be 50% of that.
Yet we still do it. We sit down and stare at a blank page and hope and pray the words eventually come.
Sadly, hoping and praying only gets you so far. And it won’t make this process any easier for you. But becoming a better writer will.
If you’re ready to take that step towards betterment, then you’re in the right place. We’ll show you all the tips, tricks, steps, and habits you need to become a better writer.
Why Should You Become A Better Writer?
Learning how to become a better writer will help you improve your writing process and cut out what doesn’t work. Ultimately, you’ll be happier because you’re more productive.
Plus, being a better writer means that your readers will enjoy your work more. And although having self-validation is important, all writers crave to impress and be praised.
Being better at what you do best will get you the attention you know you deserve.
How To Get Better at Writing
Writing is like every other skill in the sense that you must put effort into progressing it. But it’s also like no other skill because each new story you write feels like you’re reinventing the wheel.
We’re going to show you some tips and practices on how to get better at writing, so reinventing the wheel won’t be as hard as it sounds.
- Just write (even when you don’t want to)
- Don’t just write, plan first!
- Read like it’s your job
- Put the perfectionist away
- Be a cold-blooded editor
- Do it for the applause
- Get feedback from friends and family
- Never get feedback from friends and family
- Get a good editor
- Have thick skin
- Read out loud
- Join a community
- Imitation is a form of flattery…and learning
- Use writing prompts
- Blast from the past
- Don’t get distracted
- Use a Thesaurus
- Know when to walk away
- Accept failure
Just write (even when you don’t want to)
As an author, you’ve probably heard this before. It sounds so obvious, but it still needs to be said.
Put your pen to the paper, or your cursor to the page and get to writing! Because you won’t get better if you don’t practice.
It may not be your best work, and you may even delete it tomorrow, but exercising your writing muscle every day will make ideas come easier.
The trick is to pick a goal that suits you best. You could set a time limit for 10-15 minutes each day. Or set a word count goal of 500 words.
As you get better at keeping to this daily habit it gets easier to maintain. You can increase the time or word count to really challenge yourself.
Don’t just write, plan first!
The problem with just sitting down to write is you’ll be staring at a blank page as the timer runs down. The best way to ensure you use your writing time well is to plan the session first.
Are you going to free-write about your day, writing without any concern for how it looks on the page? Or are you going to flesh out the characters and do some world building?
Decide your plan of action and outline what you want to write so that you know where to start once you begin your writing session.
Read like it’s your job
When figuring out how to become a better writer, you must be a reader first.
But not just any reader. You need to read like you get paid to do it.
Study the writing, break down why you like it and analyze why certain concepts and techniques worked.
Remember, you’re not limited to reading in your genre. Reading different genres will not only teach you new writing styles, but it will give you ideas as new perspectives fill your mind.
The following are a few more benefits to reading:
- Reader’s perspective: You’ll learn how readers respond to stories based on your own experiences of reading.
- Vocabulary: You’ll learn new words and ways of phrasing them.
- Writing inspiration: Constantly refilling your well of creativity means you will never run out of inspiration.
- Story decision making: By analyzing story arcs and mechanics in other books, you’ll get better at crafting your own story arcs
To get the most out of reading, make sure to keep a notebook at your side to jot down your thoughts. These are some elements that you could make notes on as you read:
- Sentence and paragraph structures
- Character complexity
- Word choice
- Information placement
- Worldbuilding elements
- Side plot and main plot story arcs
Put the perfectionist away
You may believe that every word you leave on the page should be perfect in structure and design. This may lead you to striking out sentences and rewriting them as you go.
But editing as you write is hurtful to becoming a better writer. Because writing and editing are 2 different skills that require different thought processes.
Editing on the go interrupts the creative process, so let the words pour out onto the page and leave the editing for future You to do.
Be a cold-blooded editor
Future You is now present You. Time to hack and slash at your draft like a madman.
What you’ve written doesn’t work? Delete.
What the character said doesn’t make sense? Rephrase.
This side character’s backstory doesn’t add anything to the plot? Remove.
You don’t learn how to become a better writer by thinking everything you’ve come up with is worth keeping. A lot of writing is editing and rewriting.
Top Tip #1: When editing, get rid of filler words and phrases like ‘very’, ‘just’ and ‘really.’ Unless you really need to use it because it gets the tone just right.
Do it for the applause
It’s important that you’re happy with your writing, but next in line are the readers.
As much as you want to impress the readers, you want your message and theme to be expressed above all else.
Think about what your readers would like, or rather what they need to read from you. What do you want them to take away from your story?
Having these thoughts in your mind as you write will help you shape your story in a way that will have readers giving you a standing ovation.
Get feedback from friends and family
Some authors may feel the need to hold their story close to their chest, like Smeagol in Lord of The Rings.
But stories should be shared…even if they’re not ready yet. You don’t become a better writer by keeping your precious all to yourself.
Sometimes you can’t see glaringly obvious flaws and faults because you’ve been staring at them for so long that they’ve gone invisible.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to give your draft a gander and let them give their honest opinion on what’s working and what confuses them.
Never get feedback from friends and family
We know we said you could ask a friend or family member for their feedback on your writing, but that won’t work for everyone.
Besides them possibly not knowing how to give constructive criticism, you may not want to hear critiques of your work from loved ones.
Part of learning how to become a better writer is knowing who to get feedback from.
This is where Beta readers and alpha readers come into the picture. These lifesavers are there to read your drafts and tell you exactly what you want to know.
Is the tone right? Is the main character likable? Is the villain too likable?
If you want to know how to make use of and find these readers, check out our blogs on it:
Top Tip #2: If you have an author newsletter, you could ask your audience if they’d be interested in joining your reader team. Just be clear with deadlines and expectations.
Get a good editor
If you want to become a better writer, you need a great editor to work alongside you.
Being told something doesn’t seem right with the plot vs this is why something is wrong with the plot, makes a huge difference to your productivity as a writer.
No scratching your head over vague comments and unclear feedback.
Plus, a great editor will know how to position your book’s story in the best possible way for publishing.
Have thick skin
You can’t learn how to become a better writer without hearing feedback that critiques your work heavily.
It hurts, doesn’t it? Being told that this story you’ve worked on for hours and hours is not good enough.
Maybe the reader can see your plot twist idea coming from a mile away.
It’s all part of the process! When you hear this feedback from your alpha and beta readers, don’t shut down and block it out.
Take it in and make your story better. You got what you’ve asked for, now use it!
Now, when it comes to hearing what your readers have to say…Some of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Maybe a whole cup.
BUT! Sometimes they have some interesting things to say that can impact your writing going forward in a positive way.
Put on your human armor called thick skin and dive into the feedback with an open mind.
Top Tip #3: The feedback will do nothing for you if you forget about it. Keep important feedback and notes from reviews close by when you’re writing for easy reference.
Read out loud
When revising your work, you could get stuck in a loop and go cross-eyed. There’s so much to go through!
You should read your writing out loud. It will make unnatural sounding sentences come to the surface for you to edit it.
Reading dialogue out loud is a great way to have realistic conversations and discussions between your characters.
Your housemates may think you’re crazy for having an argument with yourself, but the end product will be worth it.
Join a community
Every writer needs a community of their people that understands what they’re going through.
You can learn from those writers or pass on your own wisdom. You could even get connected to other industry professionals that could change your author career for the better.
But if you want to use your author community to learn how to become a better writer, you have to be all in.
That means sharing your writing goals and letting yourself be held accountable for them. And you’ll hold your author friends accountable to their goals too!
Imitation is a form of flattery…and learning
If you’re looking to improve as a writer and go into different genres, you should imitate other good writers.
Take characters they’ve created or scenarios they’ve made and write a scene using their tone and structure.
As you try to imitate them, you’re by proxy learning how to write in different styles that you can adapt in your own writing.
And it’s a nice little break from thinking as everything besides the story is done for you. This is why fanfiction is a fun way to learn about writing.
Use writing prompts
When looking to find a new voice and tone for your writing, you may want to practice without the help of another author’s work.
There is a plethora of resources you can use to find writing prompts that get your brain ticking.
Top Tip #4: Our blog, 40 Tips for Writing Inspiration (Plus Writing Prompts and Tools), has writing prompts for different genres that could get your juices flowing, so be sure to check it out!
Blast from the past
Now, we want you to dig through your cupboard and get an old writing piece of yours.
Resist the urge to cringe and cower in embarrassment!
This may seem like self-induced torture, but we think masochism is underrated. Once you get past all the negative feelings, think about how far you’ve come.
See where you’ve improved or what’s stayed the same. Use that to fuel your improvement and get even better as a writer.
Also, there may be an idea in your earlier work that you can repurpose now!
Don’t get distracted
You can’t become a better writer if you’re not focused on being a better writer.
We’re in the 2020s where it’s easier to be distracted than get things done. Don’t fall victim to the easy clicks and quick laughs of social media and YouTube browsing.
It’s a temporary high that is followed by you staring at the blank page, wondering where the last hour went.
Besides the bane to productivity called the digital world, the real world has plenty of distractions that you can limit.
If you know your household is always buzzing in the morning, don’t work in the morning!
Or at least put a sign on your door that says Don’t Disturb, alongside a facial expression that says, “Disturb me and you can write this book instead.”
It’s tempting to swivel your chair and listen to the work stories of a family member, but you’re on the path of learning how to be a better writer. Tell them to come back in an hour when you’re taking a break.
And set your phone and PC notifications to emergency only.
Use a Thesaurus
You’ve learnt so many cool words while reading. You swear you did. But why can’t you remember any of them while you’re writing? They’re in your head…somewhere.
Instead of staring off into the distance with the word on the tip of your tongue, whip out the thesaurus.
There’s no shame in it!
A thesaurus is great for finding that word that helps describe the setting or your character’s mood, for example.
But it’s also great for stopping you from using complicated words and phrases that lose the message you’re going for.
Being verbose is like cotton candy. It looks huge, fluffy, and pretty. But once you dissolve it, it’s just flavored sugar that can give you a toothache.
Get straight to the point so you don’t confuse the reader.
Know when to walk away
Sometimes becoming a better writer means learning when not to write.
Maybe you’ve lost passion for the story you’re writing, or you can’t channel the character’s voices anymore.
Or you’re not ready for the story you’re dreaming up. You need more time to grow.
Perhaps the story just isn’t what you want it to be.
If any of this sounds familiar, then it’s time to walk away. Put it down and write something else.
Walking away could also mean that you need to stop editing and adjusting the story because perfection doesn’t exist. Trust your instincts and consider the advice of those who have read your drafts.
Becoming a better writer doesn’t just revolve around writing. It’s all the emotions and activities surrounding it too.
The publishing industry, the fans, the haters.
Whatever happens, it won’t only be successes. You will fail. It’s not only inevitable, it’s destined.
Everyone fails, but when an author fails it hurts in a different way. It hits you personally and professionally all at once.
But accepting it doesn’t mean complacency. It means you get back on the horse to ride again.
Skills of a Good Writer
Besides the tips above, there are some other skills you can look to adapt that will help you get better at writing. These skills will set you apart from the rest:
- Get into Psychology
- Show don’t tell
- Avoid Clichés
- Rewrite it 3 ways
- SEO for authors
- Understand the Theory
- Be Active instead of Passive
- Risk taker
- More than a writer
- Get innovative
- Use music
- Talk to someone
Get into Psychology
Don’t get a PHD or anything, but study up on human psychology (or even animal behaviors if you want to be extra crazy with it).
Understanding the human mind and why people do what they do will inspire you to create interesting scenarios that lead to bizarre conclusions.
Psychology is also handy because you’ll learn how to create engaging characters that pull on the heart strings of readers.
Or you can use your knowledge for pure evil and mess with your readers. Dealer’s choice!
Show don’t tell
You’ve probably heard this one million times…well, now one million and one times.
It’s one of the first basic rules you learn as a writer. It’s foundational, it’s almost elementary.
Yet we see writers shoving information through dialogue all the time (I’m looking at you, The Witcher Season 2).
We see this rule broken, tossed and forgotten mostly in television and cinema, but that doesn’t mean books are immune.
The writer’s job is to tell a story, the reader’s job is to imagine it. It’s a partnership.
Let the reader fill in some of the gaps themselves.
When you’re stuck, it may be tempting to shoehorn in a cliché plot twist or trope, but please refrain from it.
If you want to use it, take the cliché and flip it on its head or turn it inside out if you must. Or use it when you’re trying to simplify a scene.
But for the most part, leave the cliché alone!
Here are some clichés to avoid like the plague:
- Mirror description: The main character describes themselves when they’re standing in front of a mirror – no one does this in real life!
- Meet-cute: The 2 characters that are about to fall in love bump into each other when they meet
- The perfect hero: Your protagonist somehow knows how to do MMA fighting and drives like a formula one driver without any training or experience.
- The average Joe: The fate of the world lies on the shoulders of some random person
Rewrite it 3 ways
Becoming a better writer means not going with the initial structure you have in your head.
For example, you’re writing a scene that absolutely needs to stay in the manuscript. But you’re just not happy with the way it’s coming across.
Take that scene and rewrite it in 3 different ways. Change the perspective, the setting, or the characters in the scene.
For example if you change the perspective to a different character, you may discover that your book needs 2 narrators to enhance the story.
It may happen that none of these changes make it into the final cut, but this exercise stretches your brain, giving it new information to work with and be inspired by.
Writers don’t know everything. So, they research anything and everything.
Researching is such a crucial skill to have when learning how to become a better writer.
For example, you research your target audience to understand them better or you research locations and cultures for your settings.
Or you want to know how to do something illegal for your antagonist’s plans, like making an explosive device.
If someone had to check your browser history, they may be tempted to call the police, but your story won’t lack any substance that’s for sure.
SEO for authors
To survive in the digital jungle, you must adapt to conquer. That means taking your researching skills to the next level with SEO (search engine optimization).
Here’s how to use SEO for Authors:
- Book title: Look up all ideas for your book title to see which would be easily found by your target readers.
- Blogging for writers: Researching keywords your target audience is interested in and writing blogs on those topics.
- Description: Finding keywords that your target reader searches for and putting that in the blurbs of your books online.
- Tagging: Finding hashtags that match your books and author branding and using them in your social media posts
Understand the Theory
To find that original story idea you must step out of the standard constructs of writing.
But you can’t step out of it until you know what the standards are.
An example of twisting story structure is William Faulker’s As I Lay Dying, which has 15 different narrators telling the story.
Passive voice may look nice to a writer’s eyes, but it can be a long-winded way to convey the story.
Active voice is the difference between readers flying through the pages or rereading a paragraph, wondering what you’re trying to say.
Get straight to the point and move the story along.
If you want to be a better writer, you need to be a risk taker.
Present your unique perspective, no apologies and no uncertainties. Be bold, be brave.
A good story is not told when the writer is playing it safe, it’s told when they’re willing to make waves.
More than a writer
Being a better writer doesn’t only have to do with writing your book. As a writer, you research, edit and proofread. You promote your book on social media, and attend events like book launches, speaking engagements and book signings.
What does that have to do with becoming a better writer?
It has everything to do with it!
If you’re stressing over events and ignoring your role in book promotion, you’re not evolving as an author. Eventually your writing skills will hit a wall because you’re not growing.
Embrace your roles and let it fuel your ambition to become a better writer.
The tested and true methods to break writer’s block might not be working. You can turn to some odd or innovative methods to stimulate your brain.
For example, Anthony Burgess would crack open a dictionary and write a description of a boring object using all the words on a page.
It’s hard to get back into the atmosphere of your book every time you sit down to write. Some authors use their own curated playlists filled with music that gets them in the zone.
It might sound silly, but it can be a quick hack to get back into the right state of mind for your story.
This also serves as a fun thing you can share with fans who can listen to it while they read the book!
Talk to someone
You’re tapping the pen on your head; you’re biting your nails. You type and retype and rephrase.
Nothing is right. You’re stuck.
A good writer will get out of their head and talk to someone else about the story. Whether you record yourself or give your friend a call and talk their ear off, explain your story out loud.
Talking it through can help you find plot holes, or give you ideas for what to do next.
How To Develop Writing Habits
You can’t say, “I’ll become a better writer,” and presto, you’re a better writer.
You must build your good writing habits from the ground up and stick to them.
The below writing habits turn good writers into great writers.
- Schedule procrastination
- Set goals
- Have a routine
- Understand your process
- Never stop writing
Procrastinating is so easy. It’s a click or a daydream away.
It can sound like: “I’ll wait till 13:00 exactly and start.”
13:00 rolls around and you’re still scrolling.
We’ve all been there!
Don’t beat yourself up for procrastinating. Instead, schedule it. Write for 60 minutes then listen to 15 minutes of your favorite music, then write again for another 60 minute session.
Or plan a fun evening of slacking off and not feeling guilty about it. But next morning you have a word count goal to meet.
But remember to schedule the right kinds of procrastination. For example, instead of scrolling through TikTok for 30 minutes, put on that tv show you’ve been meaning to catch up on. You could also take a walk and listen to a podcast.
You won’t achieve your writing goals if you don’t have any set. And vague, grand goals won’t cut it.
If you want to finish your first draft in 3 months, plan out how you will do it. What are your daily, weekly and monthly goals?
Your goals need to be realistic and easy to track. Use a writing journal or a spreadsheet to write your goals and track progress every day against them.
Have a routine
We’d love to think as writers that we’re free spirits that are called to write stories by our whimsical inspiration.
But if you only wrote when that happened, you wouldn’t finish your first draft. You must set out time each day to write.
But take your personal life into account to develop a healthy writing routine that makes it as easy as possible to get your story onto the page.
For example, you write every night after putting the kids to bed and cleaning up.
Understand your process
We all don’t go about writing the same way. You may think your way is wrong or the least productive. But you can’t help who you are, so you should accept yourself and your process as it is.
If you’re a pantser that drifts from project to project, let it happen! Instead of feeling bad and doubting your ability to stick to a story, just write when it comes to you. Move swiftly between the stories and stay motivated!
Or if you’re a plotter, then map out your story to your heart’s content and follow it!
All processes could use improvements, sure, but that doesn’t mean that you should inherently change who you are to fit a process.
Never stop writing
Do you want to get better at writing? Then always write.
When you’re washing dishes, folding clothes, stuck in traffic or brushing your teeth: think about your story. Think about your characters and where they’re heading next.
Your next writing session would have planned itself because you’ve been letting the story ferment in your mind the whole day.
Top Tip #5: Keep a recorder with you or a notebook and pen to jot down the ideas that excite you.
Books To Read That Will Make You A Better Writer
You’re never too old to learn. Every now and then, read a book that’s just about writing.
It’s great for learning how to become a better writer but also it helps you reconnect with writing and fall in love with it again.
Here’s some books that lift writers up:
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
- Steering the Craft by Urusla K. LeGuin
- Ernest Hemingway on Writing
- Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric by Aristotle
- Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg
- Plain Style by Christopher Lasch
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle
- The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Secret Tip On How To Be A Better Writer
We have one last tip for you and it’s one no one wants to hear.
Motivation is overrated!
That’s right! We’ve said it. Motivation is a fool’s game.
Are you motivated to wash the dishes late at night? Are you motivated to sleep when you’d rather binge watch your favorite show?
Motivation comes and goes, and you should definitely let it push you further along. But the secret to becoming a better writer lies with discipline.
When you don’t feel like doing something, you do it anyway. And you did it again tomorrow, and the day after that. All of a sudden you’re wired to write every day without fail and it’s seamless and exciting.
But publishing a book, as we’ve mentioned, isn’t just writing it. You may not love that you need to have an online presence to make it in the book writing industry, but you will work on it because it will make your life easier.
And we’re here to make it super simple, with a one-stop shop online that houses everything from your books to your upcoming events.
Your author website! We build custom, user-friendly designs that complement authors. Fill in our author website enquiry form and we’ll be happy to help you shine online.
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