By Mark H Peterson
1. Read every day.
This is popular advice for beginners, simply because it really helps. You should aim to read everything you come across. It doesn’t matter how obscure or how out of your usual genre it is – read it! Every single piece of writing is an opportunity to learn something. You will be exposing yourself to new methods, new styles and new vocabulary.
The modern age has provided us with a never-ending stream of reading material. It’s important that you never limit yourself to one category, and it would be stupid to do so with so much out there. There are blogs, journals, scripts, poems… Read wide and read plenty.
2. Write every day.
So now you’re reading every day, absorbing new information and gathering ideas. Great! We aren’t done yet though. Obviously, the best way to get better at something is to practise. Writing is a skill, and just like any other, it needs to be trained.
Establish a regime or pattern for yourself and stick to it. If you want to be a good writer then you need to be in the habit of doing it every single day. Even if it’s only 10 minutes per day to begin with, just do it.
3. Stop censoring yourself.
Even the best writers will tell you that the first draft always sucks. You must learn not to be so critical of what you’re writing just yet. Write first, edit later. It’s way too easy to hate your own work or become disheartened early on and give up. DON’T. You’re writing and this is an awesome thing!
Remember, you have nothing to gain from not writing. Transferring an idea from mind to paper is never easy, yet the process of vocalizing your thoughts is invaluable in creating concrete, solid writing.
4. Carry a notebook.
Give yourself as many opportunities to write as possible. I often hear the complaint “I don’t have time to write”. Nonsense! You love doing it right? You will find the time. Think about the percentage of your day spent waiting for something or someone… the kettle to boil, the bus to turn up, the computer to turn on. Well, there’s your time. Get out that notepad and get writing.
This isn’t the only thing going for it and I’m certain you’ll be surprised at how useful a notebook is. I find it invaluable simply for catching those fleeting ideas and phrases that pop into my head at the most inopportune moments throughout the day (and often night). I would hate myself if I didn’t have a notebook on hand to furiously scribble them down before they retreat into some dark corner of my mind.
In essence it’s very easy to summarize this article: Read wide, write plenty. These are the basics to getting better at writing. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Writing can be a very daunting task for the beginner, which is why I’ve created an entire website dedicated to posting the best creative writing exercises and prompts. If you liked this article, I’m sure you’ll love it, so please stop by at: http://creativewritingexercises.org and let me know what you think.
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