1. Read ~ I was musing on this yesterday. Why read when I could be spending the time writing? The answer: Reading helps me with grammar, dialogue, chapter endings, hooks, character arcs, etc etc. I'm not talking about plagiarism but learning from others style. Why did they start the book here? How do they build worlds? Who is the protag? What is the inciting incident? I may not ask these questions as I read but when I finish, I often ponder on what I can take away from reading the particualr story that will strenthen my writing.Over on a friends writerly blog, she posted three things she does to be a better writer. That got me thinking: if I wrote a post about what I do, what would I say?
2. Write ~ Every. Day. I don't care if it's blog posts or editing a chapter or writing 500 words, daily writing trains my brain and fingers. This reminds me of something I learned when I took anatomy in college. We have blood vessels feeding our heart and keeping it humming. For ease of this illustration, let's say you have twenty little vessels in your heart. If you experience a heart attack, fifteen vessels die. Ouch! That leaves five to work and that's not much. For health sake, Doctors suggest exercise to help our hearts. Why? Here is one reason: more blood vessels.
As we exercise, our heart pumps more blood and pumps it faster. So guess what our remarkable body does? "Grows" more vessels in our heart to help with the extra blood flow. Isn't that amazing? But why is it amazing and how does it apply to writing?
When you start exercising on a regular basis, your heart soon develops more blood vessels until you have, say, forty vessels. This time, if you have a heart attack and fifteen blood vessels die, how many are left? Twenty-five! Much better than five. It's worth it to get some physical exercise daily if you can, don't you think?
If we can write every day our writing grows and develops and strengthens. We find we are ready to write/edit as soon as we sit down to our computers or paper. When a crisis comes up and we need to miss a day, hopefully our writing muscles have enough vessels to carry on and keep the creativity humming until we can return again. Miss too many days and it feels like starting over or it takes longer to get started. Writing daily helps strengthen our good habit and skills. I promise you will benefit from it.
3. Learn ~ I began writing five years ago. This great story was rolling around inside my head, waiting to be written and read. After typing it out, I thought my baby was ready to debut. HA! I had not learned much about the writing, except what my English teachers tried to teach me. But there is more to writing then proper nouns, grammar and dangling modifiers. I needed to be educated. I read books, went to writer's conferences and joined a critique group. I will admit I've come a long way, but there is still much to learn. Which is good because learning keeps my brain and creativity fresh.
Never stop learning. I take one day out of the week to go through blog posts that teach me something from my craft. Then I usually take time to read about writing/editing/marketing as well. Many of my published author friends admit they can still learn more.
What do you do to be a better writer?