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Don’t Poke Your Own Eye Out

3 Things You Can Do to be A Better Writer

There are three things you need to do to get better as a writer: 

1. Write more than you think you need to. Write a lot. Write in the mode you are most comfortable with (I write on a computer). 

2. Read. I have a hard time understanding writers who aren’t also readers. I’m sorry if that offends you. I’ve tried, and I just don’t get it. Words are your lifeblood and you need to experience them from every angle. I do get it that while you are in the intense parts of writing your own book you may not want to distract yourself with a new novel, but you MUST be a reader if you are going to be a successful writer. When you read you get a sense of how language works in the outside world, not just in your head. You experience different points of view, you feel importance of pacing, and you see the value of editing. 

You also get smarter about all kinds of things when you read. Hard concepts and simple things, like how to use point of view, what to do with a dangling participle, and how to use the word “seen”.

3. Be open to feedback. We usually say you shouldn’t ask your parents or anyone who loves you to critique your work because they won’t be honest. The people who love you want to shore you up, not knock you down and they may not be able to give you honest feedback. Think about who you ask for a critique – a member of a writing group, a coach, or editor. Don’t ask for feedback everyday, or you’ll stop wanting to get up in the morning, but seek feedback like an apprentice carpenter, or a piano student, or someone learning how to drive. 

A lot of people who will happily critique books are great at pointing out flaws. This is helpful because we don’t want weak points in our work, but those same people may not be able to tell you how to fix the problems you create. Deal with it. Though you are looking for someone with both skills, you may never find them. The first is an editor. The second is a teacher.

When you start writing you’re either going to be a writer who thinks everything you create is amazing, or the extreme opposite, you’ll feel like it’s all awful. At the beginning of your writing career, you can rest assured that it probably is pretty bad, especially if you’re not a big reader. Whether you are writing non-fiction, contemporary fiction, supernatural and paranormal, or a 900-page textbook it doesn’t matter. Read more, and you’ll write better. You have to deal with this reality to get better. 

Do you agree about the importance of reading presented here? What about the others?