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Friday, May 08, 2009

Five Oft-Repeated, But Invaluable Writing Tips

I'm not making this list with the intention to simply repeat what everyone else has said, but to offer some notes of advice that I know personally to have worked. Perhaps you can take something from my personal experiences with these tips that you wouldn't have been able to get from the myriad of repeated versions of the same thing all across the Interwebs and in books.

Here they are:
  • Read a Lot
    To avoid the vagueness of that statement, I'd like to clarify this to mean that you should read "a lot" based on your own pace. We all can't read twenty novels in a week, so don't feel bad if it takes you a couple weeks for a 300-page book. There's nothing wrong with that. Just don't stop reading.
    Reading can drastically improve your craft. It has for me. And read outside your comfort zone from time to time. I'm lucky in that I am in college, and thus exposed to a lot of writers I probably would not have read before. The result is that my writing has changed for the better; I can actually see the differences in how I write, what I write, and the quality of what I write.
  • Show Your Work to Others
    Getting critiques does actually work. While you don't always get great advice, you do often find mistakes your critical eye failed to discover. My writing has drastically improved as a result of this and I find that I experiment more and more with style as a result.
  • Write Frequently
    This shouldn't be misconstrued as to mean you should have a writing schedule. I find that advice that demands that you write every day only works for people who have that sort of creative brain. But you should write often. Don't fall into the trap of "Well, I don't have time." You do have time, and if you're in the mood to write, then do it. Writing often has not only improved my craft, but also created more of a drive to write, which I, unfortunately, have to sometimes ignore in order to get other more important things done.
  • Write What You Love
    I don't write what the market wants. I write what I find interesting. This really should be the cardinal rule, but unfortunately it's been superseded by that bastard "Show, Don't Tell" one. Trying to write to the market is not only stupid (because the market constantly changes), but really rather pointless. When you force yourself to write a certain thing, it shows. Just write what you like.
  • Experiment
    There's no logical reason why you shouldn't try to push the limits and try new things. Your writing will benefit enormously from pushing yourself to fiddle with style, grammar, and words. Perhaps one of the most profoundly important lessons I learned, as my writing has drastically changed from simply trying new things. You should too. You don't have to write like everyone else!
And there you have it. Any pieces of advice that you took that helped you in your writing? What were they? Let me know in the comments and if you like this post, feel free to tell your friends about it or stumble it (or something).


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