7 effective habits to improve your writing
Want to enter a writing contest? Dying to author your own novel? All good things come with time and practice, of course! Here are seven habits that you can adopt to improve your writing and get you on your way to achieving all of your literary goals.
Read the back of cereal boxes
The point here is to read anything and *everything.* Nothing is off limits. Take note of all the tactics and tropes you see not only in traditional storytelling, but also in advertisements and informative articles. Underline quotes that really stuck out to you or made you want to keep reading. Having an understanding of different writing formats and what grabs your reader's attention will help to make your own work more versatile and engaging.
Observe and listen to your surroundings
If you want to write fiction, making your characters relatable, authentic and believable is a challenge for even the most experienced writers. That's why literally every person you meet can become research. How are your siblings different? How do they interact with each other versus your parents? Do you spot any major differences? You can also look to your all-time fave movies and take notes on the best characters. Pay attention to dialogue and how the character changes from the beginning of the movie to the end.
Take critiques as a compliment
It can be super scary just to share your work with another human being, let alone hear what that person genuinely thinks about it. However, the truth is that not everything you write is going to get a rave review, and that's how it should be. If you want to get better, you need to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. While it's totally ok to not agree with all the feedback you are given, listen to the critiques your teachers give you on your paper or the edits your bestie suggests, and objectively decide which advice is helpful for what you are trying to achieve.
Reread your journal entries
Writer's block is a horrible villain that may appear without warning, but luckily there are ways to defeat it. If you just can't get a scene in your story to flow right, or you don't know how your main character should react to a major plot event, look to your emotionally-charged journal entries. There is nothing more authentic than your own initial reaction to kissing your crush for the first time or losing something special to you. Pulling inspiration from your own experience will propel your story forward and truly individualize your work.
Listen to instrumental music
All art has a story: dance, paintings, music. Usually the lyrics of a song help portray the underlying meaning, but what if a song doesn't have lyrics? Instrumental music definitely still has a message to send, and you as the listener have the freedom to fill in the blanks! Listen to the crescendos and diminuendos of the instruments. Write down the emotions that you feel while listening, and try to curate a story around those feelings. This could be the skeleton of your next project or short story.
Create a “writers group”
Having people to write with and bounce ideas off of is both fun and super productive. Find friends whose opinions you trust, and form a group that can meet once a week via Skype or Zoom. You can have 30-minute prompts to warm up the writing muscles and then share what everyone has been working on over the past week. This is a great way to practice and promote creativity and imagination.
Keep everything you write
No matter how bad or irrelevant you think a piece of your writing is, you should always hold on to it. It can offer nuggets of inspiration for future projects, provide a tangible display of your growth and may even be a source of nostalgia. Seeing how much you have improved will definitely boost your confidence as a writer and encourage you to keep going! We can't want to see your bestseller in our local bookstores.
What are some tips or tricks you would like to share with your fellow writers? Write them down in the comments.