Writing is tough. Good writing is even tougher. It takes time to polish your craft. But if you are at all serious about growing in this area, there is no better time to start than today. You can go small or all out. It almost doesn’t matter. We are all in different places on our journeys and the key is to know where you are and what it is you want to accomplish and go for it.
Below are seven fun hacks you can incorporate into your writing practice that will make you a better writer. You can tackle just one or all eight at once. Try it, and let me know which one worked the best for you. Happy writing!
1. Journal. This one is critical. The best part about journaling is that it is structure-less. You can write about anything! One thing I found over time is focusing on a particular event and going deep with descriptions to really dig into and convey the meaning of that event is a great exercise. Describing your dreams is cool, especially if you like to write fantasy. For example, how do you reconcile a setting for action that is two places at once? You get the idea. It is challenging and really good at making you defter.
2. Morning pages. This is a practice I got from Julia Cameron and it changed my life. It is really straight forward. Grab paper and pen (it doesn’t work on the computer, you need the hand brain connection), and write three pages of longhand scribbles in one sitting first thing in the morning. This is James Joyce stream of consciousness style. Try it for a month, at least. You might be surprised at the patters you will discover in your writing. Not only does this practice do a beautiful job at purging thoughts from our busy heads, much like writing meditation, but it also serves as an insight generator. After a while of doing this, when you look at the stack of paper filled with your words, you will see what it takes to write a whole book. It’s really not that long when we are consistent.
3. Read. Everywhere! Especially the good stuff. Focus on the writers you admire and the writing style that appeals to you. And then, change course and try something new, new style, new genre. Making time to read is an investment. Reading exercises our brain in a way that makes it more agile and faster at absorbing new information. Having smartphones makes is super easy to read, but I still prefer to have some paper copy book with me when I leave the house. Waiting in a line, walking around a park, going to a café, all those places are ripe opportunities to indulge in literature. And it all adds up.
4. Write on purpose. This is different than the points above because here you are actually entering a space with the aim to create something specific. If you are still shy about writing a whole story, try flash fiction or fan fiction. Flash fiction are super short stories, almost like poems. We even have Twitter fiction these days. Try writing a story in 144 characters! That will certainly trach you to be concise, a very good skill to have as a writer. Regarding fan fiction, some of our most successful writers of today began by taking their favorite works of art and expanding upon them. The added benefit is that there are fans of those works out there who are more than willing to check out your creation.
5. Create space. I am not talking about Amazon’s self-publishing platform here but it certainly is something to be aware of. I used it to publish my first novel Moonchild. What I mean here is creating a space for your writing. Clearing your desk or a corner of your house to make a special writing for your corner might be exactly what your soul craves. Creating space is also about time. I find it especially potent to write in the early morning when much of the world is still resting in the arms of slumber and my mind is fresh. The stillness is the perfect ground for my creativity to start blooming. But I didn’t start that way. Coffee lunches between work used to be the time when I would edit and not get down to writing until the evening. Depending on how demanding your schedule is, see what works for you.
6. Start a blog. Nothing brings us closer to how we feel about our writing than hitting that ‘publish’ button. It is surely a thrill. It can be a bit scary even. But what’s wonderful about getting out there, even before you may feel you are ready, is the connection you forge with the community. If you’ve been thinking about it, try it and watch your writing take off.
7. Get feedback. This one is tricky because negative feedback can cut us off from creative flow. As writers, or artists in general, we do what we do because we are extremely sensitive. Therefore, any negative advice can quickly shut us down. So it’s best to wait with constructive criticism until you are ready and when you finally do seek it, make sure it is from another writer with whom you deeply resonate and respect. Writing workshops or meetup groups are great places to share your art because again, they tend to be filled with like-minded individuals. And in the even you do get negative feedback, use what works to your advantage and discard the rest. After all, it’s only an opinion. And only yours is the one that truly counts. Another place to share your work and get feedback is an online writing community called Figment.
For more tips on writing, check out my earlier post On Good Writing.