Want to improve your writing skills in 2012? Here are 12 easy ways.
1. Write Every Day, Everywhere
Writers write. If you write every day, you’re a writer, even if you’ve never sold a word.
Tip: you’ll need to force yourself to write daily, if you’re new to writing. It’s stressful at first. Here’s the big benefit of all that angst: writing will become a habit. After a time, writing is just something you do — you won’t be able to stop.
Once you have the writing habit, everything becomes much easier.
2. Collect Words, but Don’t Feel You Need to Use Them
Most writers love playing with words, and collecting words. Look up words you don’t know. Look up words you think you know, too.
However, remember that words aren’t the point. Communication’s the point.
3. Keep a Journal or Three
Some writers journal, others don’t. I journal. Here’s why: writing is discovery. It’s also therapeutic. You can exercise your pet neuroses without annoying people. Over time, you’ll become less neurotic. This is a good thing.
Your journal also helps you to incubate ideas for future writing — you’ll never run out of ideas.
4. Study Writing Every Day
Make time to study every day. Study anything and everything. The more you know, the more your writing will improve.
You should also study writing. There’s always more to learn.
5. Use Outlines — They’re Your “Zero” Draft
Get into the habit of outlining. Outlines save time and energy. They also stop procrastination.
However, your outlines don’t need to be the kind of outline you learned in school. Most of my outlines are simple notes to myself about the project, or simple lists, or mind maps.
6. Blog: You’ll Learn to Keep Commitments to Readers (and to Yourself)
Blogging will do more for you as a writer than anything else. They’re writing practice, and they teach you commitment.
Way back in 2000, when I started blogging, I had no idea why I wanted to do it. I just thought that blogging would help my writing.
Blogging’s helped me; it will help you.
7. Thank Your Clients: They Pay You to Practice Your Writing
If you’re a new writer, and clients make you nervous, change your attitude. Think of writing for clients this way: they’re helping you to practice.
8. Create Your Own Writing Exercises, and Do Them
Writing should be fun for you. Stop taking it so seriously. Look on ALL the writing you do as fun.
Create your own writing exercises. Date them. You’ll see your writing improve every day.
9. Read, Every Day
Writers are readers. Read what YOU enjoy reading. I love Victorian novels, mystery novels, and romance novels. I read whatever I’m in the mood to read.
If something you read affects you, dissect it to see how the writer did it.
10. Take Notes on What You Read
Keep a notebook for your reading notes, or keep your notes on index cards. Reread your notes regularly, and implement any techniques you’ve managed to discern.
11. Discover and Implement Your 3 “NOs”
Every writer should have three NOs — three things you will never, ever do as a writer.
Over time, you’ll discover what your three NOs are. Be aware of them. You don’t need to share them with others.
12. Laugh Every Day
Writing can be stressful. Take time to laugh, every day.
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