Realistic and Actionable Tips To Become a Better Writer
by Erica Yong. |
Let’s face it: Writing can be really, really hard especially when you're having a writer's block. There are days where the words are not flowing the way you want to or you can’t find the words. Being frustrated about writing is normal.
But there are a few ways that could help you out especially if you're just starting out and you have an interest in pursuing writing:
1. Make time for it.
If you are like me, you’d probably imagine writing as an activity that must occur over hours.
Guess what? It doesn’t have to be. I find it difficult to find the time or energy to sit down and write for long periods, so I do it in short bursts. Ideas that I have usually start out as notes on my phone, typed out in small pockets of time during my day. These pockets are times that I am on the bus, in the MRT or during breaks in between studying. It may seem very little at first, typing out a few sentences to one paragraph at a time. However, if I keep going at it, one paragraph can turn into one finished piece of writing.
Another thing I like to do is writing sprints. It’s like the HIIT exercise for writing, making you write in short and focused bursts. I set a timer for 15 minutes and just start writing. The expectation of writing only for that 15 minutes helps me focus, helping me just get the words down. If you keep at it long enough, that time might increase, like how I reached a point where I occasionally set the timer to half an hour.
2. Think of it as a conversation
Writing, to me, is a conversation. There are two kinds of conversation that can happen here: with your audience or yourself. The former involves you thinking about who is going to read this and tailor it accordingly, while the latter involves focusing purely on what you think and feel about it. What kind of writing falls under what kind of conversation is up to you.
For me, it really depends on the content. An article like this one would be me talking to you, the reader, on what to do to be a better writer. I have to think about the various types of people that may read this and what do I want them to get from it. However, a piece on my personal experiences or my feelings about a topic would be a conversation with myself. It would involve self-reflection, recalling some of my own experiences or just facing myself.
3. Remember the first draft is never going to be perfect
Imagine this: now you have started writing something. It seems to be going well, you’re putting words together, it seems to be good points for the topic... but wait! There’s this sentence that doesn’t seem to go that well, and now you’re stuck thinking of how to change it.
This is where you should stop yourself for a moment. Remind yourself that this is only a first draft. First drafts are never supposed to be perfect. A wise friend of mine described first drafts being the exploratory stage, where you’re not very sure what direction you want to go with it, or even what each sentence is going to mean. It’s important to just get the words down as a starting point then editing it after.
4. Don't take things too seriously
Do not stress about what you are putting out. If writing is something you enjoy, then it should be fun. Papers that I must write for assignments may not be fun, but I relish in the idea of putting my thoughts into words. I find joy in thinking about the way characters can interact in my fictional writing, no matter how difficult it is to imagine sometimes. The thoughts that lead to certain imagery in my poetry bring me great satisfaction.
What I’m trying to say is: enjoy the process.
5. Writing doesn't always involve writing.
I am a firm believer that you need to have input before you can have output. I think inspiration for your writing can be found anywhere, only if you know where to look. I detail this in an article that I wrote here. I think reading it will give you some insight on how you are still laying the groundwork for your next idea.
I also make it a point to read a wide range of things to widen my perspective and see all the writing that the world has to offer. Said range include things that I don’t usually read, whether it is subject matter or format of writing. It helps me think of new ways to approach a subject, study authors that I love and to be inspired.
6. Support each other.
Writing can get lonely. However, if you surround yourself with a community of writers who will support you, it will give you a huge boost. You will be able to share about the trouble you face as a writer, get to see how other people go about their writing, share ideas and just have a group of people to journey alongside you.
I have been fortunate to have such a group of people on my side. We share ideas, talk about our current works of progress and do writing sprints together. It is a safe place to rant about writing difficulties, frustrations with the draft, and be reminded not to stress out too much over the words. I would not be the writer I am today without them.
At the end of the day, these are merely tips that may only work for one group of people, but sometimes, not for others. You need to experiment, try different things and really evaluate what works for you. If what I have written here works for you, then great! If not, you should either modify them or look for what works for you. Every writer is unique, with their own set of struggles and needs.
You may find out more about Erica on her Instagram.