3 Tips for Serious Writers
When I first began my publishing journey almost 9 years ago, I was overwhelmed by the number of things there were to learn.
Every time I turned around, there seemed to be another new technology or skill I needed to master in order to turn this passion into a profitable business.
However, beneath all of the tactics and trends of the publishing industry, there was one skill above every other which required the most attention.
One skill that promised to have the most important long-term impact if I could master it.
And the skill I advise every single one of my students to prioritize as they begin their author journeys.
What is this magical, all-important item?
The skill of writing well.
If you can write a beautiful sentence, something clear and concise that accomplishes exactly what you want it to achieve for the reader, then you will undoubtedly have a successful career as a writer.
The technology of publishing may change, the tactics of the day will inevitably transition in and out of style, but the desire for great writing will never disappear. To deliver on that desire is ultimately the deepest work and the highest calling of every writer.
So how do you improve this skill?
First, you READ great writing.
Two of my favorite non-fiction writers of the last few years are Malcolm Gladwell and Ryan Holiday. I am mildly obsessed with their ability to tell a gripping story or convey a powerful idea in a way I’ve never heard before.
The more time you spend in the pages of excellent writing, the more your brain will soak up the elements that make it great.
Over time, you’ll learn to develop a taste for:
- How long a sentence should be
- How to pace a chapter
- What information does the reader need
- What makes a book un-put-a-downable
And so much more. Do yourself a favor and make reading great writing a permanent habit.
Second, you must write MORE!
The best advice I ever got on how to become a better writer was also the simplest advice: write more.
Like so many other things in life, writing is a muscle. The more you exercise it, stretch it, and push it to its limits, the faster and stronger it will grow.
This is what I tell nearly every person who wants to become a serious writer:
- Write every day
- If you’re already writing every day, double your word count
- Get your writing in front of as many eyes as possible
The more you write, the sooner you’ll be able to close the “gap” between what you consider great writing and what you’re able to produce.
Third, you must get FEEDBACK to improve.
Unfortunately, this is a step most writers never take. They write their blog posts or books, and as soon as they have typed the last word, they put it out into the world. That is a perfect recipe for failure.
Many do this because they believe the only alternative is to hire an expensive editor. When I was first starting, there’s no way I could have afforded $500-1,500 per project for an editor to review my work.
Thankfully, during my journey, I stumbled upon the tool I still use 3-5 times per day: Grammarly.
Think of Grammarly as your personal, AI-powered editor. Grammarly is a web-based tool that allows you to improve your writing so that you can communicate with clarity and power.
A few of my favorite things about Grammarly include:
- Immediate feedback on items of grammar, conciseness, readability, writing style, and vocabulary
- The visual design of the program which allows me to see exactly what needs to be corrected quickly
- The fact that it’s on the web, so I’m always just a click away from getting the help I need
- It’s affordability (I can edit ALL of my writing for a year at what an editor would charge me for about 20 pages)
Seriously, it is one of my favorite author tools, and I cannot recommend it enough. You can try it for yourself here (Affiliate Link).
I want to commend you for wanting to become an author. Personally, it has been one of the most rewarding (both creatively and financially) challenges I have ever embarked upon.
You can do anything so long as you are willing to put in the time and work to achieve it. Becoming a great writer is no different. Use the three suggestions I gave you and you will see progress in your journey before you know it!