I’m asked for ideas on how to strengthen writing skills, and if that’s even possible. I do believe it’s possible to become a better writer. Like any other skill, writing requires practice, practice, and more practice. But developing into a better writer also means spending more time as an active reader and providing focused concern in using proper speech.
Let’s start with ideas on ways to get writing practice time built into a daily schedule. The easiest and most fun way is to journal. Journaling doesn’t require a fancy book or binder. Use any tablet or paper already on hand. The secret is not in the book, binder, or the pages you’re writing on, it’s in the consistency of writing every day. Yes, every day. Journaling is used for self-reflection, self-improvement, venting or processing the day’s events, counting blessings, capturing memories, and writing whatever comes to mind.
It amazes people, and I hear this in follow up a lot, “When I feel I have to find something to write about, I pay more attention to what’s happening around me.” Feedback includes discoveries like describing the different sky color and cloud formations from one day to the next, what it feels like when someone says something nice, how good (or bad) a meal actually tastes, how it feels to go to the park to eat lunch instead of eating at the desk, and more.
These sorts of daily events allow opportunities to exercise writing muscles by noting emotions, colors, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and other things that give a scene depth. Observe and write about body language and facial expressions, too. Practice writing dialogue between two people or a group of people.
To start, a journal entry may be 100 words written out in three minutes, and that’s a great start. Most people find writing gets easier and the time invested and topics become easier, too. Therefore, the content becomes more detailed and richer as experience and confidence grow.
If finding a journaling topic causes stress, try a free writing exercise. Set a timer and start with two minutes. The rule is to write, just let thoughts go from brain to paper. No editing, no worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Take a deep cleansing breathe and just write.
Start with a writing prompt such as:
- The best thing that happened today was . . .
- The hardest things about today were . . .
- Today I’m grateful for . . .
- I really like . . .
- I wish that . . .
- I want to learn more about . . .
- Someday I’d like to travel to . . . and why?
There are a variety of other writing prompts on the internet. Free writing is a great way to learn that writing doesn’t cause bloodshed, bruising, or other long-term emotional trauma, but helps move want-to-be writers past the fear of writing.
The next piece of wisdom is read in the genre the author aspires to write. For example, if the desire is to be a romance writer, read romance novels. This is a huge genre category with a variety of heat levels, setting time frames, and more that are unique and specific to the genre. If the end goal is to write an autobiography, read more autobiographies. If a business process book is the expected outcome, read similar books. This is also great market research that most authors don’t do, which results in writing a book that is not unique and is unsellable.
Finally, part of developing better writing skills is paying attention to the spoken word. Be a conscience speaker and listener to vocabulary, sentence structure, tense agreement, and basic English language rules applied in every day conversations. Avoid the habit of speaking with slang, clichés, and colloquialisms.