Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot on the subject of growing as a writer. Mostly prompted by some excellent books on writing that I’ve been reading. There’s such a lot that we writers could be doing to get better at our craft. Everything from taking classes and going to conferences to buying and devouring as many writing craft books as possible. And while these are all great ways to grow as a writer, there are some more basic things we can do for no cost at all that can help you become a better writer. In no particular order, here is my list of suggestions.
Fail a Lot
Failure is just a part of writing. Every writer has to accept that. But to never fail is to never try. If you try, you’re going to fail a whole bunch of times before you succeed. But every failure teaches you a little more about writing, what works, what does, what suits you, and what you should leave to other writers. Failing is disheartening. But also a necessary part of growing as a writer. If you’re not failing, you’re sitting square in the middle of your comfort zone. And no one learns anything when they don’t try new things. The more you fail, the better you get. So don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from it, and try again.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when writing, working on the same project for months, years. Without diversity in what you’re writing, you’re not learning on growing. At some point, enough has to be enough. Finish things. Start new projects. You learn more by writing and finishing a variety of works than by spending years painstakingly perfecting a single novel. Finish and move on. Finishing projects and starting new ones pushes you, stretches your capabilities, and forces you to grow and learn as a writer.
Write What You Love
Too often writers don’t write the ideas that they’re really interested in because they might not sell, or people might think they’re weird. Don’t be afraid to write what interests you, even if it’s a bit out there. One, the world need more diverse books. We don’t need the same plots rehashed over and over again. And two, there is more value in writing a book you love than a book that is designed to follow popular trends. One will be mediocre because there’s no passion, and the other will be a work of art as your pour your soul into it.
Hang Out With People Who Inspire You
Creativity is contagious. Hang out with creative people, people who chase their dreams, people who make you want to do better, be better, write better simply by being around them. Make friends with people who inspire you to believe that you can be great. If there aren’t people in real life that can do this for you, try social media. Twitter is a great place to find awesome writing communities. Talk to creative people, help them, and learn from them. Hanging around with great creatives is a good way to grow the habit of being creative.
Love Yourself As Well As Your Work
You are a writer, and you love your work. And that is awesome! But at the same time, you’re not a machine. Take care of yourself as well as your writing. Make sure you’re rested, healthy, and happy. Good writing doesn’t have to come from being a tortured soul. In fact, your mind is much better suited to creating when it’s relaxed and well cared for.
Never lose your inquisitive nature. Learn new writing techniques. Experiment with other writing forms. Look up strange biology facts. Learn how to ride a skateboard, code a website, or speak another language. Learning keeps your mind sharp and open to new ideas and input. Plus learning is a great way to find new inspiration for your writing.
Read A Lot
Read everything. Read bad magazines, read good fiction, read books on the craft, read textbooks. Open yourself up to all kinds of writing, not just fiction, and not just good writing. You can learn as much from bad writing as from good, and find inspiration and knowledge everywhere. No reading is ever wasted.
Take Time Out To Live
Writers write. But good writers also take time away from writing to go out into the world and live for a while. How can you write people if you’re never around them to know how they work? How can you write emotions if you never feel them? How can you be a well-rounded writer if you never see the world? Take a break from writing sometimes, go and live for a while, and then come back refreshed, renewed and stronger than ever.