Friday, May 5, 2017

8 Tips To Instantly Improve Your Writing

When it comes to improving our writing there is always more to learn. Be it understanding how to structure a plot, how to write great characters or simply how to get stuff done, there is always more we can do, and a wealth of tips and information out there to help us.
With this in mind here are 8 quick writing fixes!
Don’t write lazily
It’s important to understand the difference between silencing your inner critic and writing without paying any attention at all. Good writing requires effort and concentration, and while our first drafts are never going to be our best work, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t give them our all. Pay attention to how you write and always sit down with the attitude ‘I am going to do my best today.’

When I began my rough draft over a year ago, it had been some time since I had attempted to begin such  lengthy work. But I remember how I had sone it in the past, and gave it my best effort.  Sometimes my ideas came while I was lying down or in bed. I took them down, so I would have them, knowing they would be revised and expanded upon later.

Be observant
Good writers notice things. Make sure that you tune in to the world around you. It’s full of exciting and inspiring things that can really boost our writing. The best work makes clever observations about the world and the people within it and so make sure you watch people, read everything, eavesdrop on conversations, and look up more.

Still haven't made much progress in this area. I went for a walk this past Sunday, wishing I had brought my notebook with me. I now know to try this next time. 

Learn more words
The better command you have of the English language the richer and smarter your writing will be. Use a dictionary and a thesaurus, if you are looking for an interesting or unusual description check out the synonyms of more common words. The dictionary is an amazing resource that not many writers actively use in their day to day writing, but getting into the habit of doing so can improve your command and knowledge of language and help you craft sentences and arrange words in surprising and original ways.

I have often wondered if I have overused some words or phrases and what  I could use instead. What I could say instead of "eventually." a word in noticed I and used so many times?  I now need to start investigating this point more.

Always read your work aloud
If you want your writing to be effortless you need to make sure your reader doesn’t have to make an effort to read it. Reading your work aloud can really help writers to gain a better insight into how their writing flows and will highlight any parts that sound awkward or uncomfortable.

I still haven't tried doing this. For one thing, there is a lot to read from my memoir as the page and words counts have increased since the first printing on my old computer and printer.  And it just keeps getting longer! Also, as I said in this post, I have tended to be nervous about reading anything outloud, and have tended to make it hard for others to hear what I am reading. For someone who tends to be quiet and shy, reading outloud and giving speeches can be a trigger of anxiety. This is something I need to work on.

Avoid clichés
We are all guilty of including cliches in our work from time to time. The important part is to learn when you are doing it, and make sure that you go back and revise these parts of your book to make them more interesting and unique. Readers should be impressed and surprised by how you capture imagery and emotions by using language in a way that isn’t usual. If you describe things in ways that have been done 100 times before it’s easy for readers to quickly become turned off and bored with your writing.

This is something I have not been looking for. In going over what I have written to date, I've noticed I haven't used a lot of phrases along the lines of "Like that old saying goes..." Though I haven't been all that conscious of this idea.

Try writing by hand
Many writers may baulk at the idea of writing by hand, however doing so makes the whole process much slower…which can actually be a good thing. We spend so much time on our computers these days we can almost type without really thinking about what we are writing. Going back to hand written work can help writers pay more attention to the stories they are crafting - just make sure you store the paper in a safe place!

This was how I began taking notes for my memoir. At the time, I still had my old computer (I got my new one last December) and my printer seems to be going haywire. Also, as I said above, I sometimes found myself with writing ideas at night time, before I went to sleep. Writing them on paper is good to do then.  

Always write with the reader in mind
A good story is all about communicating something to the reader. A good communicator is a translator, they will almost remove themselves from the process as they try to explain themselves to others. They will acknowledge that the way they understand and see the world isn’t necessarily how someone else will and in order for them to be understood they must be able to express what’s in their head in a clear and relatable way.

How exactly does this apply to memoir? I don't have an exact answer to that, but from those I've read, it has appeared that the writer has tried to share what they think the reader needs to know about the story. This is what I have been trying to do, and as such, trying to decide how much detail and what I feel is necessary to what I have been trying to convey.  

Don’t be too hard on yourself
Many writers spend their whole writing career criticising themselves, riddled with self-doubt and of the opinion that they are talentless time wasters who should get a ‘real’ job. It’s important to remember that tenacity, perseverance and a strong will are as important in the writing game as raw talent is. Writing is an art, and therefore there is no right or wrong way of doing it, and you can always, always get better - it’s just about not giving up and putting the time and effort in to do so!
I haven't tried writing full-time, as I have just gotten back into the mode. But I have been persistent in trying to finish my story to my content. I have been putting lots of work into doing just that in the last several days.


Elephant's Child said...

As I read this, I thought how many of thses tips have analogies to life generally. Particularly the ones which urge continual improvement, being observant - and not being too hard on ourselves...

Kelly Hashway said...

These are great! I love having my Kindle read my work aloud to me. It really helps the revision process.

Barbara said...

Really helpful tips, thank you. I've just read Kelly's comment (above) what a very good idea that is.