Stand-alones: Tips and Advice

Improving Your Writing

Hey, reader, and welcome (back) to Writer Central!

To be good at something while enjoying it, the most important characteristics you need are passion, determination, and the will to take a risk.

You might have been expecting me to say “talent,” but that is not the case.  Think of J.K. Rowling.  She was poor as a child, and probably never expected her writing career to succeed.  But she worked as hard as she could to improve, and one day produced the amazing Harry Potter books.  But these books did not appear via magic.  They took years to complete, hours slaving away at something Rowling had likely wanted to give up on about 1.5 million times.  But she didn’t.

And you would be surprised at how little of her writing is straight-up, natural-born talent.  Because I’m here to tell you that it is a very, very small amount.

Today I’m going to give you 8 tips that might help you if you want to improve your personal skills, which are waiting inside of you, ready to explode gloriously into many thousands of beautiful words of a book.

  1. Write every day. This one is very difficult if you are a busy person with school all day and homework in the evenings, or a full-time job (I have a blog on that here), and making writing a daily necessity is very hard.  But, if you have determination, you probably can slog through a thousand words before you go to bed.  Really, it’s not so hard if you really and truly want to be successful as an author.
  2. Read a lot.  This one may not seem important, but I promise you it is.  Reading novels can greatly improve your vocabulary, sentence structure, and automatic tendencies to fix sentences that most people would not notice, not to mention your reading skills as well.
  3. Research.  Writing a novel is tedious task, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you should research it.  The Internet is a great resource for just about anything, and if you had a question about something, it’s likely that someone also had the same question before you.  But outside of the Internet, there are great resource books on writing, interviews with actual people who have experienced something you want to know.
  4. Race yourself, not others.  Don’t compare yourselves to others, because that will do harmful things to your own writing.  Instead, race yourself, set goals for you to complete.  Start out easier, and work your way up.  Two paragraphs a day can turn into five later, and then ten, if you work hard enough.  This is one of the best ways to improve, and not just in the writing area.
  5. Set a schedule for yourself.  This one is similar to both numbers 1 and 4, but it is still different. What I mean here is to plan a time that you will write, and set a goal for yourself when you do.  (I have a blog on that here.)
  6. Love your manuscript.  If you think the plot is crappy, think of ways to make it better. Or discard the whole idea and start out with a new one.
  7. Go at your own pace. This is directly similar to number 4, but I thought it deserved its own category.  Your writing will be so messy if you try to finish by thinking about word count.   I wrote The Savior’s Quest in the November NaNoWriMo, and at first I thought I loved it, but now I realize how much I truly hated it.  I advise that you don’t go as fast as I did; go at your own pace so you can more carefully put the words on the page.  This will make your writing so much more lovable.  Also, this is the reason NaNoWriMo is a problem for some writers.  I only just realized how much of a problem it is for me, and though I still plan on participating, I’m not going to focus on my word count while I’m writing.  Because word count is not what the readers care about – they care about the content, which NaNoWriMo, in a way, forces you to ignore when you are as competitive as I am.  (Very.)
  8. Don’t give up.  This one is by far the most important, because you can’t write if you already gave up!  This relates to number 6; appreciate your manuscript enough to slave for hours on end.

Thank you for reading my blog this week!  If you’re new here, I make a new blog each Friday, more often if I can, and you can find all of the current blogs here if you would like to read them.  I hope these tips were helpful, and if you think I left out an important tip, feel free to tell me about it in the comments or an e-mail.  I’m always open to suggestions!

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