In the first post of this series, we covered a number of topics that you may have already been familiar with. In part two of How To Become A Better Writer, we’re going to step even deeper into the genuine mechanics of mastering writing. As always, while I’m not the “world’s best writer” or anything close to it, I’m grateful and glad to share some of my own best writing habits with you. Let’s dive into Writing 102, where we’ll talk about habits.
This post is going to center on the habits, techniques and mindsets required to become a transcendental master of writing. Writing, just like any other habit or skill, takes time, energy, effort, desire and a bit of money to master.Writing, just like any other skill, takes time to master. Click To Tweet
To be truly great at something, you must be excited about working honestly and transparently, bringing your product to a community that can absorb it and hopefully derive personal benefit from it.
1. Study The Pros
Taking notes from those you look up to in writing is one of the simplest but most effective methods you can put into motion. After all, there’s a reason you have favorite writers. They touched you in a personal way.Your favorite writers touch you in a personal way. Click To Tweet
Their ability to compose words and sentences really stands out to you, and their ideas and messages sink deep into your mind.
Study what you really enjoy about them. Is it their brevity? Is it their honesty? Their humor? Their wit and creativity? Their mystique? Their clarity? Wisdom, perhaps? Any and all of these are perfectly valid reasons for loving a writer and their craft. Find what you really appreciate and incorporate it into your own writing (within your own style, of course).
2. Create Your Own Habits
There’s something to be said about writing with your own habits in mind. Yes, outlining often does help, but perhaps developing your own method of outlining is better than another. What works for one writer doesn’t always work perfectly for you.What works for one writer doesn't always work for another. Click To Tweet
This is okay! It’s all about finding the rhythm within which you optimally produce work.
In order to really be effective at finding your own writing habits, you’ll likely first go through a few periods of less effective work. This is only natural – especially with a creative craft like writing. Countless famous writers went through periods where they were frustrated at themselves because things weren’t going according to plan. It’s okay to run into obstacles; the key is to keep moving forward.It's okay to run into obstacles; the key is to keep moving forward. Click To Tweet
3. Learn From The Past
Learning from the past is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal as a writer. It’s been said you only need three elements to be a writer. A) The desire to write, B) Your voice and C) A ton of strange, seemingly disconnected experiences. The latter is arguably the most important. It’s more difficult to compose new scenes and fresh books if you don’t have a solid amount of odd real-life experiences to draw from. After all, fact is always stranger than fiction.
Also, it’s not to say you only need to be thinking back over the past to search for inspiration for stories. You can also learn how to write better today based on how you wrote previously. While it’s best to only take brief trips into the past, your former writing skills are essential to learn from. This is how you see more of what you like, what you don’t like, and how to become a better writer because of all of it.
4. Live In The Present
Becoming a better writer is about living in the present, and describing your scenarios and problems as though you’re right there with the reader.Becoming a better writer is about living in the present. Click To Tweet
There’s no time like today, and tomorrow is only more burdensome if you don’t write today. Writing can feel painful at times, but it’s pushing through those difficulties that forces your gold to melt away its impurities.
5. Look With Bright Eyes To The Future
As any writer who is authentic about their craft must know, looking with bright eyes to the future is a vital component of being a successful writer. You cannot expect your writing journey to become even more enriching through the years if you’re not excited about what’s to come. Every step you take as a writer (literally and figuratively) should be more engaging, powerful and memorable than the last.
Remember to not always be attached to outcome. In fact, when you aren’t attached to the result you’ll get from a specific piece of writing you put out, this is when your genuine writing voice usually surfaces. Writing, in and of itself, should be a simple but fulfilling joy for every writer.Writing, in and of itself, should be a simple but fulfilling joy. Click To Tweet
I don’t say this to make it sound like people who aren’t in that state are somehow lesser. I simply say this because writing is a joy, and I want every writer to appreciate it for the core value it holds. Writing is an opportunity to express oneself, and should be viewed as such.Writing is an opportunity to express yourself! Click To Tweet
6. Learn From Terrible Writers
There is always a chance to learn from writers who rubbed you the wrong way. Whether it was a redundant sentence, a predictable plot, a weak vocabulary or simply poorly-executed effort, we’ve all come across writers who simply let us down in some way. If you’re anything like me, you’ve had plenty of times where you’ve thought, “Gosh, I could have written a better paragraph myself!” I’m sure there are hundreds of readers who aren’t writers who still have this experience!
The key here is not to take to Twitter and start a rampage towards the writer, or even to mope around and act all depressed. No.
The best way to deal with terrible writers is to learn from them and decide how you would have written differently. That’s all. No tirades, no abuse. Only picking up the lesson you were meant to absorb.
Heck, you may even think I’m a terrible writer, which is okay! If you do (or if you don’t!), please leave a comment below.
7. Learn From Incredible Writers
With that last point out of the way, it’s certainly a great idea to learn from writers you adore, or even new writers who really struck a powerful note with you. Celebrate what you love about their work! Share it with friends! Support further endeavors of the author! There are endless opportunities to learn from and share the power of a writer you deeply appreciate.
Often times, it’s the writers who have struck a personal, emotional chord with us who we love. The Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles Of Narnia and A Series Of Unfortunate Events are just a few fiction examples of extremely popular and engaging storylines. Naturally, there are non-fiction writers who succeed deeply as well, such as Dale Carnegie, Charles Duhigg, Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki and Og Mandino.
Take the nuggets you love from these writers and ponder them. Savor them. Enjoy them. Repeat them. Next, find exactly why they resonate with you so much. After that, find creative ways to incorporate these favorite elements into works of your own. The wheel has already been invented, but you can always take it to new places.The wheel has already been invented, but you can always take it to new places. Click To Tweet
8. Write What Must Be Said
Beyond observing the scope of what you love and don’t like, there is an often passed-over element of great writing that deserves critical mention here. Writing what must be said is a difficult, challenging task that many writers are internally aware of, but few ever take action upon.
Becoming a better writer is just as much about honesty as it is humor. It’s just as much about brevity as it is being bodacious. It’s just as much about truth as it is tenacity.
9. Write What Others Are Afraid To Say
Closely in line with writing what must be said is writing what others are afraid to speak on. Writing is as valid a form of communication as anything else, and writing is a type of speaking that often lasts throughout the ages. Thinking back over some of your favorite books of all time (and some of the world’s favorite books), it’s easy to find books that were unique for their time. Chances are, these favorite books were audacious in saying what many others were thinking, but were too cowardly to ever speak on (in any format).
Great writing demands honesty at some level. This honesty doesn’t necessarily manifest how you might always expect it to, however. Dave Barry is one of the most prized and appreciated humor writers of all time, and it’s because he writes with striking honesty within his zany observations. People gobble up his books because they’re outrageously honest and strangely personal.
10. Repeatedly Expose Your Writing To The World
The number one thing newer writers are afraid to do is expose their writing to the world early on. Getting some of your writing out there early forces you to be okay with not caring about what other people think (at least all the time). Bringing your writing to the world helps people decide little by little what they like and don’t like. It also helps you see what you are proud of, and what you could have done better.
Now, it’s not to say you should always cater to what people want, nor that only writing what you want is always a good thing. To me, great writing is a bit of a balance. It’s maintaining creative and personal integrity while serving your audience to maximum capacity. It’s about saying what needs to be said as a leader who people genuinely respect and trust.
Want a free eBook on writing tips, plus my bonus eBook on best writing practices for free? Sign up below for the free eBooks and my best posts on writing!
The How To Become A Better Writer Series: